DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh (1961)

One of the charming aspects of the skilled Disney animation is the way the original book is tied in and the characters step into it and out of it.

Published on June 22, 2007

The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh (1961)
The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh (1961)

Studio: Walt Disney 53373
Video: 1.33:1 full screen, color
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French & Spanish tracks
Subtitles: English SDH, English, French, Spanish
Extras: “The Story Behind the Masterpiece” – Making-of featurette, Winnie The Pooh Art Gallery, Carly Simon sings “The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers,” The 100-Acre Wood Challenge Game, Storytime: “Pooh’s Shadow,” Bonus Shorts incl. “My Friends Tigger & Pooh,” “A Day For Eeyore” & others
Length: 74 minutes (feature)
Rating: *****

This beloved family classic fully deserves its allocades. It is actually an edited-together collage of three Disney shorts about the fat little teddy bear and his friend Christopher Robin – one of them won an Academy Award. It has to be the perfect first real story for the wee ones. The various characters are unforgettable: Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore, Owl, Rabbit, and the character Disney added to the British original, a mole.  There’s even some bits directed toward the grownups, but not on the scale of today’s Shrek-type family movies: The mole announces his services in digging and construction and says “I’m not in the book.”  Another character later reminds us that the mole is not in the book.

One of the charming aspects of the skilled Disney animation is the way the original book is tied in and the characters step into it and out of it.  Some of the text even is animated with them, such as characters spilling down the page in the flood scene. Thus children are motivated to return to the book where the stories originally came from.  The music is also at a higher level artistically than most of what passes for music in animated features today.  Various characters are represented by different orchestral instruments, much as with Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf.  The characters all have engaging and contrasting personalities with good and bad qualities about them, but all are straightforward and super-honest in a childlike manner.

One of the bonus items is a computer-created Pooh cartoon with a little girl substituted for the Christopher Robin role. It’s terrible – a clear contrast visually, aurally and story wise with the heartwarming original film.  The remastering is excellent, but then nearly all animated features seem to look terrific on DVD. Although the soundtrack is surprisingly 5.1, there is almost no use of the surrounds.

 - John Sunier




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