DISNEY VAULT RECALLS THREE CLASSICS & RELEASES ONE
The Disney Vault is the repository of the company’s classics where the films
take 7-year sleeps before being re-released. Disney historian Lella Smith came
to Australia to explain the needs for the Vault and what the Animation Research
Library does. Andrew L. Urban reports.
From July 30, 2008, three re-mastered Disney DVD Classics, Cinderella (1950),
Alice in Wonderland (1951), and Lady and the Tramp (1955), are being placed back
into the Disney Vault. This means that no new copies are being produced, so once
stocks are sold, these titles will no longer be available to buy – for seven
years. Just as Sleeping Beauty (1958) will be re-released from the Disney Vault
- on DVD and Blu-ray formats - on October 15, 2008, after a seven year rest.
Walt Disney was the original custodian of the Disney Vault, and began the Vault
practice by re-releasing Disney classics theatrically every seven years. The
1937 classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was discovered by another
generation of fans when it was re-released in 1944 to a new audience, and grew
in popularity with each and every release from the Vault. Walt’s time-honoured
tradition continues today, as animated titles which once entered the Vault in
VHS format now emerge in re-mastered and technically superior DVD and Blu-ray
This is typical of the philosophy behind the Vault; the films don’t just sit
gathering dust on a shelf, but are examined, assessed, repaired and when
relevant new technology is available – reissued in the best possible form, with
new bonus materials.
That’s where the Walt Disney Animation Research Library (ARL) comes in. Lella
Smith, Creative Director of ARL, visited Australia to spread the word about the
work of the ARL and the Vault.
"often our materials will inspire new books"
“We provide lots of material to the home entertainment division,” says Lella,
“and often our materials will inspire new books and the like.” Lella guides the
staff in research, exhibits, and archiving of the library’s collections. The
repository for more than 60 million pieces of Disney animation art, the
collection spans 80 years of Disney animation history and includes artwork used
to create the original Disney shorts, featurettes, and full-length animated
feature films. Over the last two years, exhibitions from the ARL have travelled
to Japan, Denmark, France, Canada, Italy, and the U.S.
Lella started with the Walt Disney Company in 1992 at WDI and joined Walt Disney
Feature Animation in January of 1995. After nearly twenty years as a registrar
of art and museum collections, Lella, came to Disney well versed in the
documentation, presentation, and preservation of priceless objects. Prior to
joining Disney, Lella served as chief registrar at the Natural History Museum of
Los Angeles County, where she organised incoming and travelling exhibitions.
“I was very happy at the Natural History Museum,” says Lella, “and I thought I’d
probably retire there. But I got a call one day from Disney asking if I’d like
to go and talk about this job … I really didn’t know if I’d like it and I really
didn’t know a lot about Disney art. But I’m very happy here.” Lella’s husband
retired last year but not so Lella. “I love it too much … so does my grandson,”
she adds laughing.
The best part of the job? “I love taking Disney art to the museum world. People
think its’ all just pop art, but most of these early artists were classically
trained, and the talent is amazing. So I love seeing huge queues outside the
museum where we have an exhibition – it brings tears to my eyes that people
appreciate it. It’s very rewarding. And these items are not just beautiful –
SLEEPING BEAUTY – BLUE-RAY BEAUTY
The first Disney classic ever to be released to High Definition Blu-ray,
Sleeping Beauty 50th Anniversary Platinum Edition boasts “spectacular” music,
says Smith. “They went back to the original sound masters they found in Berlin –
I don’t know why in Berlin,” she adds laughing, “but it’s phenomenal and so
beautiful to look at.”
A family favourite, Sleeping Beauty tells the tale of Princess Aurora, betrothed
at birth to Prince Phillip, and cursed to die by the prick of a spinning wheel
spindle before her 16th birthday by the evil Maleficent. Determined to prevent
this catastrophe, Aurora is hidden in the forest where she blossoms into a young
woman unaware of her real name and birthright. On her 16th birthday, she meets
and falls in love with a peasant boy who is unknowingly her betrothed.
Once her birthright is revealed, Princess Aurora is overcome with sadness at
losing her true love to marry a prince who she believes she has never met. On
the brink of discovering that the two are one and the same, Aurora is stricken
by Maleficent’s terrible curse. All seems lost but for one glimmer of hope –
only true love’s kiss can wake this sleeping beauty from an eternal slumber.
In addition to enhanced sound and vision, Sleeping Beauty 50th Anniversary
Platinum Edition on Disney DVD and Blu-ray is adorned with bonus features which
include an alternative opening; deleted songs; picture perfect, the making of
Sleeping Beauty; art gallery; Sleeping Beauty castle walk-through attraction;
and Briar Rose’s waltz game.
The first Disney 3-Disc Blu-ray collection comprises: • 2-disc Blu-ray with the
full length feature film, all the DVD bonus features plus Dungeon Escape;
Maleficent’s Challenge, and • A standard DVD containing the full-length feature
film. (2 Disc DVD rrp $39.95, 3 Disc Blu-ray rrp $49.95)
Published August 7, 2008
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Alice in Wonderland
Lady and the Tramp