“On the 15th of May, in the jungle of Nool, in the heat of the day, in the cool of the pool. He was splashing enjoying the jungle’s great joys, when Horton, the Elephant, heard a small noise. Then he heard it again, just a very faint yelp, as if some tiny person were calling for help…”
If you’re like me, you remember the Dr. Seuss specials from the 1960’s. At this time of the year, The Grinch comes first to mind. In that wonderful span of cartoon specials was the story of the elephant Horton, who hears voices coming from a speck he carries around on a flower. The story revolves around Horton’s attempts to protect the very tiny town of Whoville which exists on that speck. None of his friends believe him, just as none of the Whoville scientist’s friends believe that he has spoken to a giant elephant in the sky. Before long the story plays out, and we all remember the moral that a person’s a person, no matter how small. That Chuck Jones effort is a dear memory for most of us from that generation.
In recent years a Jim Carrey CGI film has introduced the kindly elephant to a new generation of moviegoers. It might have employed an all star cast and the very latest in computer animation. It is certainly a technological feat that makes the simple 1960’s animation look dated and simple in comparison. What the new film didn’t have was the heart and soul that Dr. Seuss himself endowed the original storybook with. Instead it’s an excuse for some funny antics. This is the version that has been remembered for over 40 years, and it is this version that will continue to be remembered for more than 40 years from now. I suspect the remake will be long forgotten when kids of all ages are still watching this one.
Now Warner has brought the original version to high definition and Blu-ray. This is your chance to enjoy the old cartoon in a whole new way. You’ve never seen it look better. Television wasn’t capable of broadcasting anything this good until very recently. That means you get a chance to rediscover an old classic.
Horton Hears A Who is presented in its original broadcast full frame format but, for the first time in a brightly colored high definition 1080p image courtesy of a VC-1 codec. Colors are very bright and often striking. The print itself is a bit of another story. There are plenty of black specks, and backgrounds at times look a little faded. The detail is about as high as something like this will likely get. It never looked better, and we’ll just have to accept the effects of age and just enjoy what this high definition release brings.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is pretty much DVD standard sound. I don’t suspect anything more than that could have added more to the experience. The dialog and song numbers are clear, and that’s really all we have any reason to expect from this release.
Dr. Seuss Butter Battle Book: (23:43) This short was produced by Ted Turner’s group for his television networks in 1989. It’s about two kingdoms called Yool and Zool. They each butter their bread on different sides. Separated by a wall, they engage in a humorous arms race. It’s derivative of an episode in Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, where two kingdoms went to war over which side of a soft boiled egg must be opened.
Daisy Head Mayzie: (23:45) Another short, this one about a little girl who has a daisy growing out of her head.
In Search Of Dr. Seuss: (1:30:18) This feature length film takes a whimsical look at the life of Dr. Seuss. Matt Frewer plays The Cat In The Hat, who introduces a reporter to the characters and worlds of Dr. Seuss. It also features Patrick Stewart and Christopher Lloyd.
While this is not my favorite Dr. Seuss cartoon or book, it does bring back some wonderful memories. Warner is making a big push to bring quite a few of these classics to high definition. There certainly will be a lot of pleasant memories found in this cycle of releases. The In Search Of Dr. Seuss film is a nice little bonus that offers a whimsical look at the life of the famous writer. Most of us can count a Dr. Seuss book as our first reading experience. Green Eggs And Ham was the first book that I ever read. Like many of you, it has led to a lifetime of learning and entertainment. Now’s your chance to have a sweet copy of the cartoon to last a lifetime. Don’t forget to share it with your own kids, and “Be kind to your small person friends”.