As the 'Golden Age' of the Disney studio almost came to a close, 'Dumbo' is the film that is most commonly remembered as being an integral release. It saved the business after the financial losses of Pinocchio and Fantasia before it, but did so astonishingly with such economy and simplicity.
This is the most striking aspect about Dumbo - its sheer emotional power through simple production. The story itself only runs for 64 minutes, yet in many respects, this condensed running time allowed for a more concise film. As for the plot, we see the animals from a travelling Circus receiving their new-born from the 'Delivery Stork', only for the very last delivery to be a baby elephant with unusually large ears. In response to name his mother chose ('Jumbo'), her female companions cruelly rename him 'Dumbo' due to his silly appearance.
Forget the usual heros and villains - for Dumbo, it is a chapter-like story that rides on the emotions. The best scene of the film (and possibly, one of the saddest in movie history) is that of the baby elephant visiting his mother, who had recently been locked in her own trailer as she scared the guests when Dumbo is taunted. Neither of them can see each other through the tiny barred-window, leaving them to stroke each through through the limited space. Its a lesson for any aspiring animator as the frame holds on Dumbo looking up at his mothers trunk, leaving the tears to fall down his eyes. You can't watch it without welling up.
The film contains every attribute you would want in the space of an hour, though. As well as this emotion, the Crows bring some humorous relief to the viewer with their wise-cracking talk and singing, while the 'Pink Elephants' scene dabbles in the surrealism that was in fashion at the time, with the likes of artists such as Salvador Dali.
This may not be a 'Diamond Edition' (for some strange reason), but the restoration says otherwise. It is yet another flawless Lowry-Digital remastering that astonishingly reveals many original colour consistencies on the cels, and really brings out the lush softness of the water coloured backgrounds. Although the film grain has been removed like all the recent Lowry efforts, you could argue that grain wasn't an intended product of the production. Quite simply, the artwork has never been clearer, which is all the more important for Dumbo as there are so many dark/night scenes.
As for additional content, the Blu-Ray contains a modest amount of extras (not a patch on the Diamond/Platinum Editions), but it should be enough for most people. The DVD is also included as with most Disney packages now, and it is all presented in a lovely shimmering slipcase.
In short, Dumbo my not be the most glamorous or technically advanced film the studio produced, but this only balanced the production over to a wonderful plot and use of imagery. The restoration is perfect (both visually and the audio) and at these prices, paying a few quid less for the stand-alone DVD version just doesn't make sense. Top marks Disney!