Continuing the tradition of some excellent hi-def transfers, Lady and the Tramp have skipped onto Blu-ray with some impeccable manners. Just how good is this port of the 1955 classic? It is arguably the best so far, which is amazing considering that the anamorphic process used to 'stretch' the image actually reduced image detail upon presentation. This film was the first animated feature to be photographed in CinemaScope, and the results are breathtaking. With this new restoration, the idyllic environments that Lady and her pals reside in are just beautiful, almost as if someone has just placed the paintings on your TV. All the usual Lowry treatments are here - absolutely no specs, dirt, blemishes of any kind or gate weave. As usual, some production artefacts are removed (such as cel reflections, dust and movement), but when the presentation is this good, you understand what the producers really wanted. Colours are spot on, and you'll notice details that you've never seen before.
When it comes to the film itself, I've found that the visual dimension actually overwhelms the plot; much in the same way that this occurred with 'Sleeping Beauty'. I enjoy Lady and the Tramp very much so, but feel that its animation, acting and artwork will always be the highlights of the film. Because the wide aspect ratio of the photography alters how the characters engage with each other, their surroundings and the audience themselves, the film to me doesn't have the same level of character development or humour as other Disney classics, because the camera can rarely focus on just one character or situation and study them/it. Therefore, I believe that Lady and the Tramp can be enjoyed more from the perspective of looking up at our own world.
The soundtrack is also spot on, and just as good as the 'Sleeping Beauty' transfer from a couple of years ago. I was particularly amazed by the vocal track - it sounds as though it was recorded yesterday!
No DVD is included this time - it seems Disney have, for now at least, dropped the Double Play branding from the Diamond line of product. This could be down to a number of things; customers getting confused as to what 'double play' even means, the ridiculous nature of pricing both the Blu-ray case and DVD case products differently - even though they both contain the same discs, or just to cut down on costs. I'm better on the latter, since Disney have already eliminated the second Blu-ray that used to accompany early Diamond Editions with a bag full of bonus features.
In this instance however, the features are 'OK' (mostly made up of short DVD excerpts) but could have been a lot better, again like the past handful of Diamond Editions (which I might add, cost more). Considering Disney made so much effort to get the early editions right, why are they suddenly slacking? As I said in many of my other reviews, it comes down to them treating all the films differently. It's no coincidence afterall that 'Beauty and the Beast' got hours of bonus features, and 'Fantasia' got a 3-minute documentary advertising a museum.
I think the term these days is "face-palm".
So just as I imagined, Lady and the Tramp has a flawless transfer and will make a damn fine addition to any families film collection. Let's hope Peter Pan and The Rescuers aren't too far behind!