Animé and Toons
101 Dalmatians - Diamond Edition Review
By Hervé St-Louis
February 10, 2015 - 21:28

Studios: Walt Disney Studios
Writer(s): Bill Peet, Dodie Smith
Starring: Rod Taylor, J. Pat O’Malley, Betty Lou Gerson
Directed by: Wolfgang Reitherman, Hamilton S. Luske, Clyde Geronimi
Produced by: Walt Disney
Running Time: Approximately 79 Minutes
Release Date: February 10, 2015
Rating: G (General Audiences)
Distributors: Buena Vista Home Entertainment

In the 101 Dalmatians, Pongo and Perdita, the parents of 15 pups must deliver them from the evil henchmen of Cruela De Vil. Cruela De Vil is a ruthless woman who wants to turn the 99 Dalmatian pups she has into a fur coat. Escaping the home of their human pets, Pongo and Perdita receive help from several animals before reaching the hideout with the captured pups. Will all 101 Dalmatians escape Cruela De Vil?

Disney is releasing the animated 101 Dalmatians for the first time on Blu-Ray and it’s a treat. The film is crisp and there are enough extras to entertain viewers who want to find out about this period in Disney animation. 1961 was a difficult year for Disney. The studio’s last animated film Sleeping Beauty had cost a lot of money because of its stylized backgrounds and expanded colouration techniques. Unconvinced about the testing new reproduction technologies, the Walt Disney allowed his team to experiment with a Xerox copier that would reproduce the coarse lines drawn by animators without being retouched by inkers and colourists. Disney fired much of its female staff as it replaced the inkers with the Xerox machine. Gone were the colour-traced that had characterized Disney animations since Snow White. Instead, the quality and defects of the original lines of the animator appeared.

101 Dalmatians was also a stylistic departure in the themes and scope of stories. It was set in the present and featured contemporary British designs. Disney used rotoscope animation for the cars and had artists dedicated to drawing the spots on the dogs. There is a jazz-like allure to 101 Dalmatians and coarseness that many animation fans deplore and call the end of the Golden Age of Disney animation. What I’m more interested is how Disney replaced so many employees with one technology. 101 Dalmatians cost Disney less money to produce that Sleeping Beauty and also earned the studio more money. The animators enjoyed seeing their work without any correction appear on film. This is similar to how many comic book publishers are abandoning inking by using Photoshop scans or having artists draw their comics digitally.

I had read the book as a kid but I cannot recall ever seeing the film. It was pleasant although I found that the story and the villain did not appear long enough. Too much time was spent on establishing the story and the relationships between the humans and the dogs and less on the adventure.


Rating: 8/10

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