Dumbo (2011)

Rated G. Walt Disney Studios. Release date: Sept 20, 2011.

Speak out for those who cannot speak,
for the rights of all the destitute.
Speak out, judge righteously,
defend the rights of the poor and needy.
Proverbs 31:8-9

Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11

© Walt Disney Studios

A wonderful outsider story, the film shows how with encouragement and support one can transform what others regard as a handicap into an asset. The film maintains for preschool viewers the old myth of storks delivering babies to their mothers. The one bringing the baby elephant is late, having trouble finding the circus train in Florida where the circus has been staying out the winter. From the beginning the little fellow is made by others to feel that he is an outsider, all the animals laughing at those big ears that often trip him up. This makes his mother’s love all the more poignant, especially when she defends him from abusers and is punished by being locked into a dreary cage. When he comes to her at night she reaches through the bars and cradles him in her trunk as she sings the lullaby that won the 1941 “Best Song” Oscar.

How Timothy Mouse comes to his aid, helping the little fellow discover and value his sail-size ears as a gift makes for delightful viewing. Especially memorable is the Oscar-winning lullaby “Baby Mine,” and virtually all ages will love the wordplay of the crows’ sprightly song “When I See an Elephant Fly.” The colorful circus train is pulled by a delightful steam engine that, as it puffs up a steep hill, calls to mind another story, “The Little Engine That Could.” The animation is simple, but beautiful, from the bright circus poster-like opening credits to the spectacular landscapes that the train passes through to the engaging way in which each character is drawn. Art-minded adults will love the spectacular Pink Elephant sequence. I suspect that the high-minded Walt was still in Fantasia-mode when he approved that sequence.

Everything about this 70th Anniversary Blu-Ray/DVD release is first rate, especially the Extra Features “Taking Flight: The Making Of Dumbo” and “Celebrating Dumb” that deepen the viewer’s understanding of the making of the film and the troubled times—the latter both for our country (the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor bounced the little elephant from Time Magazine’s cover) and the Walt Disney Studio. Disney was saved from financial ruin by the film’s success (the box office failure of the expensive Fantasia had left the studio deeply in debt.

Art lovers will appreciate the way in which Disney’s team incorporated elements of surreal artists such as Salvador Dali and techniques of the German Expressionist filmmakers.

Both this film and the short “Elmer Elephant and the Flying Mouse” are gold mines for those looking for material for lessons for children! With its games, art galleries, and songs, the disks could keep young and old entertained far beyond the 62-minute film itself. The set is expensive, but buyers will find a bargain if they go to Amazon.com (and no doubt other such sites).

Extra Features · Combo Pack includes Blu-ray and DVD A Great Value!

· Blu-ray: Cine-Explore · Blu-ray: Disney View · Blu-ray: “What Do You See?” Game · Blu-ray: “What Do You Know?” Game · Blu-ray: “What Do You Know?” Game · Blu-ray: “Celebrating Dumbo” Featurette · Blu-ray: Animated Short: “The Flying Mouse” · Blu-ray: Animated Short: “Elmer Elephant” · Blu-ray: The Magic Of Dumbo: A Ride Of Passage · Blu-ray: Art Galleries · Blu-ray: Deleted Scene: The Mouse’s Tale · Blu-ray: Deleted Song: “Are You A Man Or A Mouse · Blu-ray: Original Walt Disney Television Introduction · Blu-ray: Audio Commentary · Blu-ray: Sound Design Excerpt from “The Reluctant Dragon” · DVD: Deleted Scene: The Mouse’s Tale · DVD: Deleted Song: “Are You A Man Or A Mouse?” · DVD: Taking Flight: The Making Of Dumbo · DVD: The Magic Of Dumbo: A Ride Of Passage

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