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The Many Adventures of Winnie the
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 8/27/2013
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/9/2013
It would be an understatement to say that Walt Disney's movies and characters are ubiquitous, as they are some of the most recognizable properties in the world. But, do you ever stop and wonder how some of them originated, or where you first saw them? For most, this proposal is simple, but what about Winnie the Pooh. The Disney version of Pooh feels as if it’s been around forever and aside from gracing many nurseries and baby products, the character is very recognizable. But, what is Pooh’s origin? Doesn’t it seem as if the Pooh movies are products of the mid-part of the 20th century? (Differentiating, of course, from the more recent entries into the Pooh canon.) I put some thought into this as I watched The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh brings A.A. Milne’s stories of a toy bear and his owner to the screen. The film features the familiar Winnie the Pooh (voiced by Sterling Holloway) and his best friend, Christopher Robin (voiced by Bruce Reitherman, Jon Walmsley, and Timothy Turner). Pooh also spends his time with his other friends -- Piglet (voiced by John Fiedler), Kanga (voiced by Barbara Luddy), Roo (voiced by Clint Howard and Dori Whitaker), Owl (voiced by Hal Smith), Rabbit (voiced by Junius Matthews), and Eeyore (voiced by Ralph Wright). They all live in the Hundred Acre Wood, and while Pooh is a benevolent creature, he often lets his love for life’s simple pleasures get him into trouble.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh was released in theaters in 1977, but the film actually contains three shorts which were made much earlier -- Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (1966), Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day (1968), and Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too (1974). In fact, the entire film is simply an episodic series of Pooh stories which have been edited together into feature-film length. Thus, instead of doing a standard plot synopsis, I will merely describe each section of the movie.
“Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree” -- Pooh realizes that he is hungry and that his cupboard is bare. Therefore, he devises a plan to retrieve honey from a very tall tree, but he soon learns that bears shouldn’t be in the air.
“Pooh Pays a Visit to Rabbit” -- Pooh goes to rabbit’s underground warren and stays for lunch. Unfortunately, he eats too much and gets stuck in the rabbit hole while attempting to leave. Therefore, his friends must try to devise a way to get him out.
“Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day” -- A particularly windy day sees the breeze so strong that Pooh is able to fly Piglet like a kite. They then visit Owl, whose house is knocked over the by the wind. That night, the wind blows Tigger (voiced by Paul Winchell) into Pooh’s life. (This brings about the weird “Heffalumps and Woozles” song.)
“The Rain, Rain, Rain Came Down, Down, Down” -- A terrible rainstorm hits the Hundred Acre Wood and causes flooding. Pooh and Piglet are swept away by the waters and Pooh inadvertently becomes a hero and Piglet shows great generosity.
“Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too” -- Rabbit decides that he’s tired of Tigger pouncing on everyone, so he brings Pooh and Piglet in on a plan to get rid of Tigger once and for all.
“The First Snowfall” -- Tigger and Roo play in the snow together, but Tigger realizes that he’s not as brave as he thought.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh isn’t the most technically impressive Disney animated film, nor is it the most complex, but it’s certainly a charming movie. Of course, the film’s greatest asset are the characters themselves. It’s hard to resist this group of familiar faces, and everyone has their favorite Winnie the Pooh character. The characters each have their own unique personalities, without ever feeling like each one is trying to fill a stereotype. There’s a refreshing innocence to the proceedings here, which is nicely captured by the childlike signs which adorn the houses. The stories each tackle very simple ideas and show how friendship and teamwork can win the day. The only questionable aspect of the entire piece arrives when Rabbit schemes to get rid of Tigger.
I can see where some may dislike the film’s structure, but this actually makes it perfect for younger children (which is the target audience), as they are only having to take in small chunks of story and the movie can be stopped and re-started for those with particularly short attention spans. I think that when most of us think of Winnie the Pooh, we picture the short stories here, particularly Pooh trapped in the hole. However, I think the fact that The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh holds all of these stories is lost on many people (I know that I’d forgotten about it), so it’s nice to see a re-release of the movie.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh certainly loves hunny on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.66:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 20 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no distracting grain and no defects from the source material. However, the HD transfer reveals issues with the animation, most notably in the first half of the movie, where we can see lines which weren’t erased completely and some stuttering of the motions. The colors look remarkably good (you gotta’ love Technicolor) and the image is never overly dark or bright. The transfer shows a nice amount of detail. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.1 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This is a 5.1 adaptation of an original mono track and the limitations of that process are evident. The music sounds fine, but the dialogue often sounds canned and flat. Some of the sound effects have been beefed up, but we don’t get much in the way of strong surround or subwoofer effects.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Blu-ray Disc contains several extras. "Pooh Play-Along" is a set-top game. "Mini Adventures of Winnie the Pooh" (12 minutes) is a series of five animated shorts -- "If I Wasn't So Small", "Piglet's Drawings", "The Expedition", "Geniuses", and "The Honey Song" -- all of which were taken from Piglet's BIG Movie. "A Day for Eeyore" (25 minutes) is an oddly-sized (too short to be a movie, too long to be cartoon short) story which looks as if it could have fit into the movie (save for the fact that some of the voices sound weird. It's letterboxed at 1.33:1. "The Story Behind the Masterpiece" (25 minutes) is a making-of featurette which focuses on The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. It starts with an overview of the books by A.A. Milne and then explores how Walt Disney himself obtained the character rights and put the adaptation into motion. We then hear from several players who were involved in the making of the film. The final extra is a MUSIC VIDEO for "The Winnie the Pooh Theme Song" performed by Carly Simon.
Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2013.