Disney released last week their Diamond Edition of "101 Dalmatians" on Blu-ray. The film was released originally in 1961 and offered a series of notable first for the world of Walt Disney Animation. Firstly, this was the first to use a Xerox process for transferring the original animation drawings to cells. Second, there were black outlined 3D models created and filmed in live action, then converted to animation cells for coloring. Thirdly, this film was almost entirely storyboarded by one man: Bill Peet.
There were other notable firsts on this film, but these seem to be the biggest.
On the off chance you haven't seen this this film, "101 Dalmatians" follows Pongo and Perdita, a pair of dalmatians who are looking to rescue their kidnapped children from the clutches of the evil Cruella DeVille, who wants to take all of the puppies and turn them into a coat.
This film was always remarkable to me for how it seemed to be almost scratched out. The lines weren't clean and you could see the animation, and I had no idea until I watched the behind the scenes on this Blu-ray release that the reason for it was the Xerox process. This was the first time the animators were able to take their original drawings and translate them directly to the screen instead of having them hand inked by painters in the ink and paint department.
This created a unique look for the film and gave us some of the most beautiful animation the Walt Disney company ever produced. There is so much good business in this
For me, this film is endlessly charming and watchable, the first of a new era of films from Disney that don't comport to the classic princess and fantasy tropes that had made Disney's fortune to that point. It's a beautiful work of art that also acts as an incredibly compelling piece of entertainment.
The Blu-ray offers a number of bonus features, but the best come in the form of behind the scenes documentaries. There is nothing in the world more satisfying to me than seeing interviews with the likes of Brad Bird and Pete Doctor adding context and history to the film so that I can enjoy it on an elevated level that I hadn't appreciated before.
The picture and sound quality on the Blu-ray is second to none and is the perfect format for moving through the film, frame by frame, to watch the gorgeous frames of animation. Anyone considering a career in animation would be a fool not to pick up Disney's Blu-rays, especially for a film as artistically masterful as this.