“Welcome to The Hundred Acre Wood, where voices come together in joyful celebration and, the seasons gently turn like pages in a book. A time of giving, shared with good friends and a silly old bear named Winnie The Pooh.”
“Oh Bother”A.A. Milne was quite an eclectic writer. He wrote murder mysteries that even appeared on Alfred Hitchcock Presents. From that fertile mind would also come a place known as the Hundred Acre Wood. In that select place some of literature’s finest characters had the greatest adventures any boy could imagine. And adventures are certainly no fun on your own. Young Christopher Robin was joined by Piglet, Tigger, Owl, Rabbit, Eeyore, and, of course, Winnie-The-Pooh. Who didn’t fall in love with that silly old bear… Winnie-The-Pooh. OK, so maybe Dahmer or Bundy might have been exceptions. Still, anyone growing up in the last 30-40 years who isn’t a psychopath has had a love affair with Winnie-The-Pooh, all stuffed with fluff.
Often when a company gets the rights to such classic characters they end up doing more harm than good, particularly if they include some quite radical changes to the beloved material. Walt Disney was first introduced to the stories after seeing his own children delighted by their adventures. His quick mind told him that this English story needed to be more formally introduced to American children. It took several years for the versions of these characters to evolve into what we so instantly recognize today. The original characters were quite different from these uniquely Disney inventions. I know the folks at Disney claim they stayed very true to the originals, but that simply isn’t true. Today the characters are recognized all over the world more in their Disney incarnations. More than the drawings, the voices of these characters have become very distinctive with those of us who grew up with them.
“Every season brings a reason to be happy. Every season brings a reason to be glad. When the sun is shining up above you and honeybees are in the hive, oh what a happy reason to be glad that you’re alive. So, every season brings a reason to be giving. Giving thanks for all the good things that appear. When you hear birds all singing be it Winter, Fall, or Spring what a beautiful gift the seasons bring.”
All of the gang is present for this almost Christmas tale. I say almost because it really doesn’t quite ever get there. The story begins with a wind gust that removes pages from Rabbit’s colander. It’s November, but the gang believe it’s now Groundhog Day and almost spring. But the season’s first big snowfall brings home the realities of winter to the now unprepared residents of The Hundred Acre Wood. Much of the rest of the story deals with Rabbit’s adoption of a baby bird and his sadness when the bird finally grows strong enough to fly away.
The film is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. you’ll be pretty amazed at the video presentation here. Even in the age of high definition this standard DVD looks impressive. Colors are bright and alive with all of the major characters displaying spot on the way we remembered them The animation is smooth. Black levels are near perfect, as is contrast.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track offers pretty much dialog and music or effects. It’s fine for what it is. There are a few songs, and they have nice dynamic range, but this isn’t the kind of film that lives too widely in the surrounds. Dialog is excellent, allowing you to hear it all perfectly.
Two shorts from the television Saturday morning cartoon show and two very simple children’s activities.
I’m a huge Pooh fan, and this one is okay but ranks pretty low on my favorites. It seems like it was intended as a Christmas special but doesn’t appear to truly embrace the season. Instead there are far too many diversions, and only in the last minute or so do we ever get the sense of a real holiday show. I guess I’m a bit of a sucker anyway just to spend some time with that “stuffy little cuddly old bear”.