Though Max Fleischer’s Gulliver’s Travels in public domain and widely available on several home video formats, the film has never been digitally restored to its full potential. Unfortunetly, the company with access to the original negative and soundtrack elements is not interested in restoring it and making it available on DVD.
However, a company called KOCH Vision is releasing a “digitally restored, re-mastered and enhanced” edition on both Blu-ray and standard DVD versions on March 10th. According to their press release, the DVD will include:
…the complete 77 minute feature film, two “Gabby” cartoons edited from the film’s outtakes and a Fleischer Studios “Making of a Cartoon” documentary.
KOCH Vision attained the original 35mm film and not only restored and re-mastered the film using a state-of-the-art digital process, but also enhanced the picture to a 16×9 aspect ratio. In addition, the DVD allows for three audio options: the restored original soundtrack, enhanced stereo, and 5.1 Dolby digital surround sound. Both bonus cartoons and documentary have also been restored, making the KOCH Vision version of Gulliver’s Travels a must-own for fans of classic animation and children of all ages.
I’ll withhold judgement on whether this release is a good thing or not till I see this dvd myself… but “enhancing” the picture to a wide 16×9 screen ratio, and remixing the track for surround sound, are not my ideas of restoration. To some, this might be a desecration. And the box art, designed to resemble a Disney Platinum Edition, looks like a scam. Someone needs to revive Fleischer’s Gulliver and Mr. Bug, but until the corporation with the ability to do it correctly realizes what they own, this is all we can expect. I applaud KOCH for making an effort. Let’s hope they do justice to this long neglected classic.