Blu-Ray Review: Lady and the Tramp

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Synopsis: A classic love story unfolds in the best Disney tradition as a lovely young pedigreed cocker spaniel named Lady, who lives a pampered life, finds herself falling romantically for Tramp, an amorous street-smart pooch without prospects. Although they have fun together on several dates, including a sentimental spaghetti dinner by moonlight at Tony’s restaurant, their relationship is strained not only by Lady’s loyalty to her human family and their newborn baby, but by Tramp’s devil-may-care attitude that eventuallygets Lady in trouble and tossed into the dog pound. However, good-hearted Tramp redeems himself by saving the baby from potential harm and thus wins Lady’s love and the affection of her human family.

You wouldn’t think that a love story from the point of view of two dogs could be as beautiful as it is in Lady and the Tramp.  At best, you would expect a cute but gimmicky story without any real substance.  At least, that’s what you’d expect if it came from anyone but Disney.  And yet, Disney took this basic idea and created something miraculous.

Everyone knows the story.  Lady is a cocker spaniel from a proper family.  Newly minted with her very own dog license, she finds herself on the streets after a misunderstanding involving her family’s new baby.  There, she meets up with Tramp, an independent mutt who shows her the ways of the world and the ways of love.

It really is a simple story, but within the framework of the plot lies something real.  The characters may be dogs, but the emotions are earned.  In this film, the love story is never forced on the audience, but comes naturally, as it should.  Through a combination of charmingly romantic music, wonderfully realized characters (both comic and serious), and stunningly gorgeous animation, Disney crafted another timeless masterpiece.

Having just been released in the two-disc Diamond Edition, this is the perfect time to re-experience the film.  This is the first Disney animated feature released in CinemaScope, and it is absolutely stunning.  It really allows you to marvel at the detail the animators put into the film.  Being a dog owner, I am very familiar with all the little movements that dogs do, and the animators captured this perfectly.  Every stretch, wag of a tail and lick of a hand was perfectly rendered.  And yet, even with this animal detail, these dogs still felt like realistic characters.

The extras on this Diamond Edition provide a great look at the film from the perspective of those who made it.  Featuring something called “Disney Second Screen, you can sync the film up with your IPad or laptop, and watch the movie while simultaneously getting extra content pertaining to that particular moment.  When watching with this feature, you can animate along with the film, and listen to recreations of story meetings taken from the actual transcripts.  It’s fascinating to hear that insight play with the film, giving that extra perspective to what you’re watching.

The Blu-Ray itself also includes a fascinating look at the apartment over the firehouse at Disneyland.  As most people reading this probably know, Walt frequently stayed in this apartment, overlooking the park below.  Including some terrific candid shots of Walt enjoying Disneyland before the park opened, this is a fascinating feature for any Disney historian.

Disneyland was being built while he was working on Lady and the Tramp, and it’s fascinating to think that Walt would start his days working on the film, and then go to Disneyland to oversee construction of the park.  As part of Disney Second Screen, you can even take a virtual tour of the apartment. Other features include three deleted scenes, a deleted song, and several bonus features carried over the previously released DVD.

Those features from the DVD are terrific as well.  There are clips from the Disneyland TV show, making of features, a look at the storyboards, the music, and on and on.  This is a truly remarkable film, and this release does it justice in evey way.  Whether you want to pour through the history of the production, or just marvel at the beautiful story, Disney has outdone themselves once again.