Posted: 08/13/2009

 

Pete’s Dragon: High-Flying Edition

(1977)

by Jef Burnham



Available on DVD August 18, 2009 from Walt Disney Video.


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If Pete’s Dragon wasn’t a part of your childhood, you missed out. Though it was not the first film to mix live action and animation (the earliest example is Gertie the Dinosaur from 1914, which is also considered by some to be the first cartoon), the adventures of Pete and his animated dragon Elliot has been a staple of childhood for generations— if not a somewhat overlooked staple, being sadly brushed aside by many of the more popular Disney films. But with its re-release from the Disney vaults with an impressive load of special features, Pete’s Dragon is not only set to entertain a whole new generation of kids, but teach them a bit of animation history as well.

First of all, I have never seen the film looking this pristine, or sounding as great. The transfer, as we have come to expect from Disney, is great, showing all due respect for these films, which have become a large part of so many people’s lives.

The amount of special features alone is quite impressive, boasting some 15 entries in the special features menu. The centerpiece of the features is “Brazzle Dazzle Effects,” a wonderful and informative 25-minute documentary charting the history of Disney’s technological advancements in combining live action with animation, starting in the early 1920s with Disney’s first star, Virginia Davis, a little girl who would enter an animated world and interact with the creatures therein. “Brazzle Dazzle Effects” is narrated by Sean Marshall, who played Pete.

The DVD also includes a vintage, 4-song demo used to promote the films release with pop versions of selected songs. There are storyboards for a deleted scene in which Doc Terminus and Hoagy are hunting Elliot and the original concept storyboards and recording of “Boo Bop BopBop Bop (I Love You Too)”. There is yet another deleted song, art galleries, trailers, an interactive DVD game, the short “Lighthouse Keeping” featuring Donald Duck, an excerpt from Disney Family Album about Elliot’s creator, animator Ken Anderson, and an excerpt from “The Plausible Impossible” (Oct. 31, 1956) on the art of animation, hosted by Disney himself.

In short, if you grew up watching Pete’s Dragon or have children of your own, purchasing the “High-Flying Edition” of Pete’s Dragon wouldn’t be a bad idea at all.

Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.



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