Top positive review
THE SNOWMAN  [30th Anniversary Edition] [Blu-ray]
on 22 October 2014
THE SNOWMAN  [30th Anniversary Edition] [Blu-ray] Enchanting, delightful, timeless! Leaves Memories with You That Will Never Melt Away!
‘THE SNOWMAN’ which was adapted from Raymond Briggs’s classic picture book, is a family favourite. A beautiful story of a boy whose snowman comes to life at midnight, it has captured the imagination of generations and continues to enchant. Nominated for an Oscar in 1982 and awarded the British Academy Award for best children’s entertainment in the same year, no family film collection is complete without James and his wondrous friend.
FILM FACT: Awards and Nominations: 1982 Academy Awards®: Nominated: Best Animated Short Film for John Coates. 1982 BAFTS® TV Awards: Win: Best Children's Programme (Entertainment/Drama) for John Coates. Nominated: Best Graphics for Dianne Jackson and Raymond Briggs.
Cast: David Bowie (Re-Released Version) and Raymond Briggs (voice)
Directors: Dianne Jackson and Jimmy T Murakami (supervising director)
Producers: Iain Harvey and John Coates
Screenplay: Raymond Briggs (book)
Composer: Howard Blake
Music: Peter Auty (treble) and Sinfonia of London
Art Department: Dianne Jackson, Hilary Audus, Jill Brooks and Joanna Harrison
Special Effects: Mario Cassar
Video Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
Audio: English: 2.0 LPMC Stereo Audio
Running Time: 26 minutes
Region: Region B/2
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Universal Pictures UK
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: Christmas wouldn’t be the same without another showing for the heart-melting fantasy about a boy whose snowman creation magically comes to life. The original OSCAR® nominated ‘THE SNOWMAN,’ famed for the scene of the boy and his snowman taking flight to the swelling choral ballad "Walking in the Air" has been screened every Christmas by Channel 4 Television in the UK since 1982.
The tale of ‘THE SNOWMAN’ follows the story of a young boy on one winter's day, as he decides that he wants to build a snowman. After much effort put into building his frosty creation, at the stroke of midnight whilst the young boy is fast asleep, the snowman suddenly springs to life. We then follow the snowman whilst accompanied by the young boy, as they impart on a magical wondering which leads them on a journey all the way to the North Pole to meet Santa Claus.
Dianne Jackson's and Jimmy T. Murakami's masterful direction of ‘THE SNOWMAN’ would struggle if it had tried to be more of a thriving example of an adaptation done right. Within being obviously robbed of its 1983 Oscar for best animated short, ‘THE SNOWMAN’ is still an incredibly underrated Christmas special that could not be more faithfully adapted from its original source that is Raymond Brigg's original 1978 classic story book. ‘THE SNOWMAN’ also features the unquestionable talent of David Bowie and Raymond Briggs, depending on the UK or US release, as the older version of the young boy and as the narrator before the story begins.
The most obvious highlight of ‘THE SNOWMAN’ is easily it's hauntingly beautiful use of sound and animation. From the jaw dropping voice of angelic St Pauls Cathedral choir boy Peter Auty, and featuring an incredible orchestral score by the Sinfonia of London; “Walking in the Air” is a dazzling piece that is almost guaranteed to stay with you throughout the film, and long after the final credits roll. I will not lie to you and say that ‘THE SNOWMAN’ is an entirely happy concoction, however despite it's somewhat melancholy ending, this story still stands out to be a must see Christmas classic, for even those who are usually only loyal to their happy go lucky cinematic fiction.
Although, ‘THE SNOWMAN’ is undoubtedly heart-warming, the film doesn’t sugar-coat the sad ending as the life of ‘THE SNOWMAN’ is shown to be all too short and fleeting. It is testament to this respectful and sensitive adaptation that the embellishments made from the source material work so well. The first half, sticking closely to Raymond Briggs’ story, is full of charming little details as the Snowman is invited into the young boy’s home and experiences the wonders and dangers of everyday objects we all take for granted. The film then takes flight, quite literally, and abandons the confines of the original story to embark on an epic and joyous journey. Both halves perfectly compliment the other and it never feels haphazardly stitched together.
Blu-ray Video Quality – ‘THE SNOWMAN’ is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.77:1 and far exceeded my expectations. Considering the age of this film, the transfer is superb. This transfer has been re-mastered and the results are evident for all to see. The animation for this movie is pretty simple, but even so the colours and detail are evidently of the highest quality. The colour palette is bold and lifelike, blacks are solid and the image is in pristine condition. There is no sign of damage or dirt on the print and it is safe to say that the movie has never looked so good. There is a small amount of grain but this is not distracting. Edge enhancements are nowhere to be seen and compression artefacts are also non-existent. Overall, this is an amazing transfer which Universal should give up on trying to improve, as it simply cannot be done! Please Note: Playback Region B/2: This will not play on most Blu-ray players sold in North America, Central America, South America, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Learn more about Blu-ray region specifications.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – Universal Pictures UK have supplied just the one soundtrack with this release of 2.0 LPMC Stereo Audio, but that shouldn't really come as any surprise. The soundtrack in question is a simple Stereo track which does everything it is asked for. The dialogue levels are audible throughout and the enchanting soundtrack is also clearly reproduced. For some reason, Universal Pictures UK has decided not to include subtitles with this release. The menus are animated and feature in the main soundtrack.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Special Feature: Snow Business Documentary: The Story of The Snowman [23:00] This documentary is the ultimate companion to the film featuring a new audio narration by John Coates. It starts off by showing some footage of Raymond Biggs where he talks about how the idea of the film came about. Raymond Biggs is heavily featured throughout and often gives his insight into various topics surrounding the movie. As expected, the animation is featured heavily, and there is also the obligatory interview clip with Aled Jones. My favourite part of this documentary is the section where several mistakes in the story are pointed out. These are not obvious mistakes, but nevertheless they are funny to watch. This is a quality documentary which leaves no stone unturned.
Special Feature: The Animatic and Storyboards: This extra features by Producer John Coats first attempt to create the film from Raymond Briggs’ book. What he did was to get two members of his staff to cut copies of the book into pieces and develop the story from that. The illustrations from the book, together with the new drawings of the developments were then shot under the camera to produce this seven minute ‘animatic’ version of the film. Fans of the animation film will be mesmerised by this extra, and it is a welcome addition to the disc. Next up is the Storyboards, of which there are three in total. These are “Goodnight,” “A Different Nose” and “Morning.” As expected these are three of the most important sections of the animation film. Each storyboard has to be viewed individually.
Special Feature: Introductions from David Bowie and Raymond Briggs: The final extra on this disc is the Alternative Introduction, which was produced to help promote the film animation overseas and in particular in North America. David Bowie and with crazy haircut and all! It was brought in to do the introduction which lasts for just over a minute and a half. Even though this introduction differs only slightly, it would have been nice to have a choice of which one to watch with the main presentation.
Finally, if you are looking for a Christmas animated film which you will return to each year, then look no further than ‘THE SNOWMAN.’ It is easy to see why it was nominated for an OSCAR® and even thirty years on the animation is still a delight. Recreating Raymond Briggs’ scratchy illustrations and pastel colours is no easy feat in animation but the tactile aesthetic is still just as wonderful. There is an ageless quality to the art direction and animation that will make; ‘THE SNOWMAN’ just as fresh and original in another thirty years’ time. The beautiful images are perfectly accompanied by Howard Blake’s sweeping orchestral score whilst the signature song, “Walking in the Air” has become a classic in its own right. ‘THE SNOWMAN’ is a perfect Christmas treat for young and old alike. The highlights of this disc are without doubt the transfer which is stunning, and the elaborate documentary. ‘THE SNOWMAN’ deserves to be part of everyone’s collection so don’t hesitate, buy this today! That is why as soon as I saw this for sale I had to have it in the ultimate Blu-ray format, as it shows off this magical animation film in its full glory and will ever be associated with Christmas and should be an annual event over the festive period, than watch it when it is broadcast on your television. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom