Tuesday, May 12, 2009

When You Wish Upon A Soulless Corporation

I know everybody's been keeping track on their cell walls with chalk marks, but it's been at least a year and a half since I've added any DVDs to my collection. Reasons for this:

1) I lacked the ability to buy DVDs until about four years ago. I was really excited when I gained this ability. But after about two years of possessing this ability, I realized that I could, in truth, buy DVDs ad infinitum, and eventually it just got boring.

2) Most of the DVDs I really wanted to buy I managed to buy (that double-disc special edition of Plan 9 From Outer Space suddenly seemed like it could wait).

3) I realized that any money I spent on DVDs would be money that I might potentially need again someday, particularly in an unanticipated stretch of unemployment.

So there you have it. However, the recent release of a certain DVD has brought me out of retirement, and I purchased it and two others last weekend. The DVD that I speak of is the 70th anniversary double-disc special edition of Disney's 1940 animated feature Pinocchio. Why Pinocchio? Well let's just say this: donkeys, whales, and the hottest blue fairy in the history of family friendly entertainment (she'd make this little boy's wooden nose grow too, if you know what I mean). My original plan was to purchase all of Disney's first five animated features (Snow White, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo, and Bambi), and add them to my collection. But, stickler for detail that I am, I decided to purchase them in order. Snow White was out of print, but I found a reasonably priced used copy, so I snagged it with little hesitation. Pinocchio, however, was a bitch.

Disney released Pinocchio as a single, bare-bones disc in 1999 and then, in time-honored Disney fashion, pulled it from the market. Back when I was more obsessive about "completing" my DVD collection, I was rather irked by this. Used copies at Amoeba went for $75. I wanted it, but I didn't want it that badly. I also found out on the Internet Movie Database that Disney would be releasing a double-disc edition...in March 2008. My God, how could I ever wait that long? Nevertheless, I decided I would do just that. As March 2008 approached, however, I heard nothing about a Pinocchio re-release. I checked IMDB and learned that Disney was now planning on re-releasing Pinocchio in March 2009. I thought I would be more irritated by this than I really was, but mostly I just figured, "Well, I've already waited two years, so what's one more year?" Indeed, it was nothing.

Masters of unctuous self-promotion they may be, I have to admit that Disney puts out the best special edition DVDs out of anyone in the business (Criterion included). Because they are self-obsessed copyright whores, they've managed to preserve all of their little bits of deleted scenes, promotional materials, pencil sketches, etc. etc. in their archives. Look at what we've got here:

* All-New Audio Commentary With Leonard Maltin, Eric Goldberg And J.B. Kaufman.
* No Strings Attached: The Making of Pinocchio
* Never-Before-Seen Deleted Scenes And Alternate Ending
* The Sweat Box: Walt Disney's Artistic Review Process
* Geppettos Then And Now
* Live Action Reference Footage
* Pinocchio Art Galleries
* Pinocchio's Puzzles (Hosted by Jiminy Cricket)
* Pinocchio Knows Trivia Challenge
* Pleasure Island Carnival Games
* Pinocchio's Matter of Facts
* "When You Wish Upon a Star" (all-new music video starring Meaghan Jette Martin [Camp Rock] performing an all-new version of "When You Wish Upon A Star")

Honestly. They've done everything short of cryogenically unfreezing old Walt himself.

Having been inspired to break my DVD moratorium by Burbank's finest, I purchased two others, on a sort of unintentional Dustin Hoffman theme. In the wake of Frost/Nixon, I felt the need to finally add All The President's Men to the shelf. Check these out:

* Commentary by Robert Redford
* Telling the Truth About Lies: The Making of All the President's Men
* Out of the Shadows: The Man Who Was Deep Throat
* Woodward and Bernstein: Lighting the Fire
* Vintage featurette Pressure and the Press: The Making of All the President's Men
* Vintage Jason Robards interview excerpt from Dinah!, hosted by Dinah Shore

Sadly, Deep Throat itself is not included. Finally, I purchased Kramer Vs. Kramer, a slice-of-life drama that does not boast a particularly high critical reputation (mostly because it beat out Apocalypse Now and All That Jazz, among others, for the 1979 Best Picture Oscar) but is nevertheless a movie that I find very intelligent and entertaining. The only notable special feature is a making-of documentary (which I have already seen). But they can't all be "Limited Time Only/First Time On Blu-Ray" pieces of gooey hype now, can they?


Herr Zrbo said...

You didn't get Pinocchio on Blu-Ray?? You're missing out on the MIND BLOWING awesomesauce that only HIGH DEFINITION can provide. It comes complete in 1080P for that FULL HD experience. Tsk, tsk LE, how could you not have fallen for their marketing?

I have a copy of Pinocchio on VHS from the mid-80s. Hey, so why does Disney always release these movies for a limited time? I swear I'm always hearing ads "Last time available this decade before it goes back in the vault!" Why don't they just release their shit like other companies and rake in the dough?

Little Earl said...

Maybe they figure they can make more money if they do this little marketing striptease and make people think they absolutely have to buy it now or else. I'm not a marketing expert. Maybe they've done studies that show it works.

I believe my copy of Pinocchio is compatible with both Blu-Ray and standard DVD formats. But I don't own a Blu-Ray player, or even know anybody who owns one.

ninquelote said...

As much as Disney rules with an iron fist, I have to admit I do like a lot of their animated films, especially the ones from my child hood. And having my own child means I won't be embarrassed perusing the Disney section of my local Target.

We have Pinocchio and Dumbo, I don't think they are special additions though. We do have the two disc Platinum Edition of The Little Mermaid, which is one of my five favorite Disney animated features (along with Aladdin, Rescuers Down Under, Fantasia, and the Sword in the Stone).

As for the Blu-Ray thing, it's a great system, but way too expensive right now. I don't know if it's worth the money. My computer screen is the same size as our TV, and I could buy a Blu-Ray burner for less that a player. I'd be able to watch the HD discs and burn HD videos also. Don't you just love technology?

Little Earl said...

Picking favorites is tough. Let's just say The Aristocats probably wouldn't make the cut. I'm surprised to hear you mention The Rescuers Down Under. Does that one really count? That's sort of like counting Bambi II. I have not seen the original Rescuers (from the late 70s I believe) since I was a kid but I remember it being very good and very creepy. That actually might have been the scariest Disney movie ever. I am tempted to rent it again as an adult.

After The Lion King they really haven't been the same. And most of you know how I feel about Pixar.

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