Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Aristocats Blu-ray Release

The Aristocats tells the story of three kittens and their mother who lived in the lap of luxury with their human Madame Bonfamille.  One day, while working on her will, her butler Edgar overhears that he is to receive all of her money upon her death, but only once the cats have also moved on.  He decides to remove the cats from the equation by abandoning them in the countryside, and much of the movie deals with their journey back home to Madame.  If you’d like a more in depth look at the movie itself, we suggest you check out Episode 58 of the Disney Film Project Podcast where we reviewed the Aristocats.  

Now Disney, working hard to increase their Blu-ray library, has released the Aristocats - already available in stores.  The Blu-ray follows what I’m beginning to think of as the “Disney Blu-ray Formula”.  And I really think they nailed this formula with their catch phrase of “Magic in High Definition”.  Each disc always starts with three tie-ins: an advertisement for Disney Studio All Access, an advertisement for one of their more prominent upcoming Blu-ray releases - in this case Cinderella: Diamond Edition due out on October 2, 2012, and finally an upcoming movie release preview, which here is Finding Nemo 3D.  

The Main Menu of this Blu-ray does an excellent job of presenting different examples of the gorgeous artwork found in this movie.  Each time you jump there, a different scene is represented - of the times I went there I didn’t see it repeat.  There is the usual round of Disney movie related previews to be found.  You can also choose from one of four languages: English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese - and the are all also available as subtitles as well.

This Blu-ray shines in it’s Bonus Features, many of which include appearances by the Sherman Brothers.  In the first one titled “The Lost Open”, Richard Sherman tells us about a deleted character named Elvira, and a deleted song that she and Edgar were supposed to sing a duet for called “How Much You Mean to Me (Court Me Slowly)”. It also includes a scene where the cats are introduced to us as they attend a Cat Museum that is apparently inside the Louvre. We get see the opening played out using storyboards and old recordings, including singing by the Sherman Brothers.

Next we get a music video called “Oui Oui Marie” which is a remix of things that all the cats in the movie say, but mostly Marie.  It’s not something I particularly care for.  This is made up for by the inclusion of the deleted song “She Never Felt Alone” which is a song about how much Madame really does love the cats.  Richard Sherman discusses the song, and it’s lead in called “Porquoise?” - which on the storyboards we see is referred to as “Purrquoise”.  This is also played for us using storyboards.  

We are then presented with an excerpt from an interview with the Sherman Brothers title “The Sherman Brothers: The Aristocrats Of Disney Songs”.  In it they discuss how they worked with artists to create the songs for the movies in a sort of symbiotic relationship of design.  They also discuss how they were able to get Maurice Chevalier to do the opening song for the movie and also some discussion about “Scales And Arpeggios”.

There is then an excerpt from the episode of Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color called “The Great Cat Family” that is all about how the domesticated cat has evolved and interacted with man for thousands of years.  And we have to Thank the Phoenicians for it.  In keeping with the whole “cat theme”, the final bonus feature is the 1946 short “Bath Day” staring Figaro.  It starts with Minnie Mouse giving Figaro a bath and through a series of events leads to Figaro once again needing a bath.

As said above, the big win for this Blu-ray is the Bonus Features. Especially enjoyable is the way that the missing or deleted scenes are brought to life for us with music, dialogue, and storyboards.  It brings back for us what would otherwise be lost.  This is a solid Blu-ray release that any fan of the Aristocats will want to have in their collection.

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