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Raymond Briggs is a connoisseur of children’s books, the most successful of them being The Snowman which was first published in 1978 and was eventually made into a TV film. The show premiered on Channel 4 on Christmas Eve 1982, and has aired every year since. The festive season is full of traditions and watching the Snowman is one of them. Apart from having a charming storyline, the movie is also renowned for its theme song, 'Walking In The Air'. Last year saw the film's 20th Anniversary, and this is a review of the special edition DVD.

Snowman - Special Edition, The
Movie
The premise behind the Snowman is pretty simple, but that’s what makes it so enchanting. A young boy named James wakes up one morning to find that everything outside is covered in snow. Thrilled at this discovery, he hurriedly gets dressed and runs downstairs, heading straight out to the garden, where he starts to build a snowman. As the day draws to a close, James puts the finishing touches to his work of art and goes to bed as usual. At midnight he wakes up and goes to make sure his snowman is still there. When he goes outside he can hardly believe what he sees, as the snowman seems to be alive! James and the friendly snowman embark on a magical journey together, which James will never forget.

Lasting only for just over twenty minutes, The Snowman is a perfect blend of adventure and friendship. There is something magical about Raymond Briggs' best-selling book, and this is a perfect movie adaptation that captures the atmosphere from the book in every way possible. From the opening sequence right through to the heartfelt ending, this is a timeless Christmas movie which definitely hasn't aged over the years. The Snowman is innocent fun and captures the true meaning of Christmas. It deserves to be part of your Christmas viewing every year. Christmas wouldn't be the same without The Snowman!      

Video
The Snowman is presented in Widescreen 1.85:1 and far exceeded my expectations.  Considering the age of this film, the transfer is superb. This transfer has been remastered and the results are evident for all to see. The animation for this movie is pretty simple, but even so the colours and detail are evidently of the highest quality. The colour palette is bold and lifelike, blacks are solid and the image is in pristine condition. There is no sign of damage or dirt on the print and it is safe to say that the movie has never looked so good. There is a small amount of grain but this is not distracting. Edge enhancements are nowhere to be seen and compression artifacts are also non-existent.  Overall, this is an amazing transfer which Universal should give up on trying to improve, as it simply cannot be done!

Snowman - Special Edition, The
Audio
Universal have supplied just the one soundtrack with this release, but that shouldn't really come as any surprise. The soundtrack in question is a simple English Stereo track which does everything asked of it. The dialogue levels are audible throughout and the enchanting soundtrack is also clearly reproduced. For some reason, Universal have decided not to include subtitles with this release. The menus are animated and feature the main soundtrack.

Extra
This DVD is tagged as a special edition, so before receiving this review copy I was hoping for some meaty extras! The first extra on the disc, and without doubt the most substantial, is entitled Snow Business Documentary – The Story of The Snowman. This documentary lasts for twenty three minutes and is the ultimate companion to the movie. It starts off by showing some footage of Raymond Biggs where he talks about how the idea of the film came about. Raymond Biggs is heavily featured throughout and often gives his insight into various topics surrounding the movie. As expected, the animation is featured heavily, and there is also the obligatory interview clip with Aled Jones. My favourite part of this documentary is the section where several mistakes in the story are pointed out. These are not obvious mistakes, but nevertheless they are funny to watch. This is a quality documentary which leaves no stone unturned.

The next extra on this disc is called Animatic. This extra features John Coats’ (producer) first attempt to create the film from Raymond Briggs’ book. What he did was to get two members of his staff to cut copies of the book into pieces and develop the story from that. The illustrations from the book, together with the new drawings of the developments were then shot under the camera to produce this seven minute ‘animatic’ version of the film. Fans of the movie will be mesmerised by this extra, and it is a welcome addition to the disc. Next up the Storyboards, of which there are three in total. These are Goodnight, A Different Nose and Morning. As expected these are three of the most important sections of the movie. Each storyboard has to be viewed individually. Targeted at slightly older viewers is an Audio Commentary by Mel Smith, who for the purposes of the commentary plays Father Christmas. While this is not a technical commentary it is still interesting to listen to, and offers an alternative opinion on the proceedings. Kids will love this commentary and I am sure there will be a few excited adults as well!

The final extra on this disc is the Alternative Introduction, which was produced to help promote the movie abroad, and in particular the US. David Bowie (crazy haircut and all!) was brought in to do the introduction which lasts for just over a minute and a half. Even though this introduction differs only slightly to the UK intro, it would have been nice to have a choice of which one to watch with the main presentation.

Snowman - Special Edition, The
Overall
If you are looking for a Christmas movie which you will return to each year, then look no further than The Snowman. It is easy to see why it was nominated for an Oscar. The last few decades have seen children and adults alike enchanted by its simple, yet truly magical storyline. The Snowman has become an integral part of families’ Christmas traditions throughout the world, and the best thing about it is that it hasn’t aged!  Universal have tagged this release as a special edition, and while it doesn’t quite fit into that category in my opinion, this is still a worthy release. The highlights of this disc are without doubt the transfer which is stunning, and the elaborate documentary. The Snowman deserves to be part of everyone’s collection so don’t hesitate, buy this today!

Note : This DVD is encoded for regions 2 and 4.


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