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In 1941, Walt Disney’s “Dumbo” appeared on the scene, and has been cherished ever since. Only 64 minutes long, this film tells the story of the ugly duckling, but uses elephants in place of ducks.

Dumbo: 60th Anniversary Edition
The story opens when storks deliver newborns to circus animals, in particular, Jumbo Jr., who is delivered to Mrs. Jumbo. From the on set, Jumbo Jr. is nicknamed “Dumbo” by the other elephants because of his large, oversized ears.  In a defensive action for her child, Mrs. Jumbo is locked away, leaving “Dumbo” to fend for himself in the circus environment.

Enter Timothy Q. Mouse, a rodent who snacks on peanuts and believes that Dumbo is on deck to achieve great things. Timothy’s proposal to Dumbo, which involves his jumbo ears, may actually be Dumbo’s greatest strength, thus proving the naysayers wrong.

“Dumbo”, in my opinion, is one of Disney’s greatest treasures. The story is timeless, the animation superb and most importantly, the message conveyed is exactly what the children (and adults) need to hear more often. With a short run-time, children should have no problem being able to sit through this film without losing their attention.

One of the unique aspects of this film is that through much of the first 20 to 30 minutes, there is very little talking. The emotions of the circus animals are portrayed through facial expressions and musical score, a technique, which in today’s animation, is not seen very often. For this reason along, I find “Dumbo” to be a blast to the past of a slower time when ideas didn’t need to be conveyed by dialogue.

This was my first viewing in nearly 10 years, and it was as enjoyable to watch as it was the first time I saw it.

Dumbo: 60th Anniversary Edition
“Dumbo” is presented in its full-frame transfer at 1.33:1 aspect ratio. This transfer isn’t nearly as impressive as the recent release of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” however, it still holds its place. The colors are solid and bright. I did notice an occasionally scratch or blemish; however it wasn’t distracting to me. I’d love to make the argument, that these fallacies in the transfer are due to the age of the film, and actually, that is entirely possible. To compare “Dumbo” to Snow White however, is probably unfair, as Snow White has received a few restorations in the recent years. Overall, I am happy with the transfer and can’t complain too much.

This new 60th Anniversary Edition has also been remixed with a new Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. And to say that it is simply outstanding is an understatement. To hear “Dumbo” in all its splendor in 5.1 is an experience in itself. I have never experienced this film in a theater, hearing this disc in 5.1, has given me what I believe to be the closest I will ever get to hear it in a theater.  Dialogue and background sounds were crisp and clear.

Thankfully, “Dumbo” has been presented with a number of extra features that will make any fan of the film happy. Included here are a commentary with John Canemaker, animation historian; a 15 minute featurette, “Celebrating  “Dumbo”; still galleries featuring original concept art and character sketches; a six minute featurette, “Sound Design;” animated shorts: The Flying Mouse” and “Elmer Elephant”; an excerpt from an introduction from Walt Disney when the film first shown on television; a music video for “Baby Mine” performed by Michael Crawford; sing along songs for “Look Out for Mr. Stork” and “Casey Jr.”; a children’s read along “Dumbo’s Big Discovery;” trailers for the film from 1941 and 1947; a preview for “Dumbo II” (coming spring 2002); and finally, DVD-ROM features. In addition, a paper model of the Casey Jr. train is included inside the keep case.

Dumbo: 60th Anniversary Edition
“Dumbo” is a fantastic film for children and adults. With a message that is timeless, and a length that is sure to keep kids attention span, no collection should be without this film. The extra features combine a mixture of items that adults will enjoy and items directed toward children, making this film a great “family film night” selection.