Not so coincidentally arriving in stores at the same time as its sequel, Return to Never Land, arrives in theatres is a new special DVD edition of Disney’s classic 1953 animated version of Peter Pan, which the studio had released as a “limited issue” barebones disc a couple of years ago. While not exactly the fully-loaded platter that this timeless picture deserves, the new disc is a worthy digital keepsake of the film.
The transfer doesn’t appear any different from the one on the previously released disc, and that is just fine. It’s a clean transfer, glowing with vibrant colors that are as magical as anything Tinker Bell does; the remastered 5.1 stereo sound makes it that much more enticing to sing along with such Disney standards as “You Can Fly” and “Following the Leader.”
One is actually encouraged to do so with the latter song in one of the disc’s special features, a karaoke-style song clip taken from a volume of the Mouse’s Sing Along Songs video franchise; the muddy color and sound of this clip highlights just how much work went into restoring the film. A read-along “DVD storybook” and the “Pirate Treasure Hunt” game are the other two supplements geared toward the youngsters.
Adult animation fans are catered to by the remaining supplements. Two short (about 15 minutes each) making-of featurettes are included: one is a recently produced retrospective featurette called “You Can Fly! The Making of Peter Pan”; the other, “The Peter Pan Story,” is more fascinating as it was produced at the time of the film’s original release. While each of these featurettes are informative in their own ways, the real treat for Disney buffs is the audio commentary. Hosted by Roy Disney, this non-screen-specific interview clip job features input from animators Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, Marc Davis, and Ward Kimball; film historians Leonard Maltin, John Canemaker, and Keff Kurtti; Tinker Bell model Margaret Kerry; Wendy model and voice actress Kathryn Beaumont; and Walt Disney himself, who, in his brief sound bite, interestingly admits to not emotionally connecting with the film. Juicy insights like those are plentiful in the track, even if some of the snippets overlap with or are recycled from the “You Can Fly!” featurette.
Specifications: 1.33:1 full frame; English 5.1 Surround; French and Spanish mono; English closed captioning; DVD-ROM features.