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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - December, 2010

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"Twas the Night Before Christmas" (DVD) - Reviewed by Tyler Stripko

movie-december-2010-twas-the-night-before-christmas

Synopsis

Something has gone terribly wrong in the town of Junctionville.  All of the children’s letters to Santa are being returned.   A strongly worded letter in the Junctionville paper calling Santa Claus “a fraudulent myth” has sent the jolly old elf off the deep end.  In the hopes of gaining back Santa’s trust, a local clockmaker named Joshua Trundle comes up with the idea to build a giant singing clock.  With the help (and hindrance) of the Trundle’s house mice, Mr. Trundle must get the great clock working by midnight on Christmas Eve or risk having a Christmas without Santa.

Specifications

  • Warner Brothers
  • 1970, Color, Rated G, 24 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • 480i
  • English Mono Dolby Digital
  • Starring: George Gobel, Joel Grey, and Tammy Grimes
  • Directed by Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin Jr.
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: None
  • Sex: None
  • Language: None

Commentary

Ker-plunk!  Ker-plooie!  I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen this cartoon but I had no problem watching it again.  This film holds a great deal of important life lessons, which makes it a must see for children and families.   While the plot is only very loosely based on the classic Clement Moore poem of the same name, it holds together well and moves along nicely for the entire 24 minute run time.  The voice acting is great, though as a child I was always a bit scared of the incredibly pointy chins on the residents of Junctionville.  “Twas the Night Before Christmas” is an absolute holiday classic that still manages to entertain after nearly 40 years.

Technical

This is the “remastered” DVD edition of the film, which was “renewed” in 2002 as per the movie jacket.  Having seen this cartoon at least 30 times on poor quality broadcast television, I had high hopes for this DVD.  Even with my Oppo Blu-ray player stretching the native 1.33:1 to widescreen (gasp!), the image held up fairly well.  Colors were reasonably rich and vibrant with a fair degree of contrast to the image.  There were frequent specks of dirt and dust on the print, but it looks like the producers were careful not to over process the image.  Perhaps they were a bit too conservative, as they could have cleaned things up a lot more.  Overall, the image is a tad soft, but that could be the source material.  There is also a lot of flickering to the image, particularly in the white backgrounds, but it looks like this is just the difference between each individual cell.  The flickering was not too distracting but I would have preferred if they had spent the time to color correct/contrast match each cell to make the image a little more fluid.  The Dolby Digital Mono soundtrack can best be described as utilitarian.  It is clear enough and I was able to make out the dialogue clearly but there is no sense of immersion to the soundtrack.  The dynamic range is very limited, but that is most likely an issue with the source material.  The musical numbers come through a bit flat, which is a real shame.  Overall, a decent restoration, but I think that a holiday film of this caliber deserves a little more tender loving care.

Extras

For a “Deluxe Edition,” this disc is pretty empty.  There is only one extra, a featurette that explores Christmas traditions around the world.