Gulliver’s Travels on DVD

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.


  • http://www.cheekypress.com/ Craig Clark

    My little one just finished watching “Hoppity Goes to Town” on DVD and just loved it. I hope they do “Gulliver” justice for the next generation.

  • http://www.youtube.com/kustomkool Kevin Dougherty

    C’mon Jerry, we appreciate your desire to be tactful and politic, but who exactly is this mysterious corporation that has access to the actual ‘Gulliver’ elements? Let’s put the heat on them.

  • http://niffiwan.livejournal.com Niffiwan

    Well, I can think of exactly one case of successful 16×9 “enhancement”, and that is the 2005 DVD of “Flaklypa Grand Prix”, where the original filmmakers actually painstakingly added pictorial information to each side of the frame.

    By far the most common “enhancement” technique, though, is to cut off the top and bottom of the original frame. The implication being that people are idiots and think that WIDESCREEN=BETTER.

    I hope they at least offer both versions.

  • Scaramanga

    Koch’s website lists the following features:

    Video:
    Anamorphic Widescreen – 1.78
    Full Frame – 1.33

    Audio:
    Dolby Digital 5.1- English
    Enhanced Stereo 2.0 – English
    Mono – English

    Additional Release Material:
    Documentary: Fleischer Studios’ THE MAKING OF A CARTOON
    Shorts: GABBY Cartoons (2)

    It leaves me wondering whether it’ll be one of those dual releases like Brother Bear. Let’s hope the info on their site is correct and we do get the option of seeing a restored version of the movie in it’s original format.

    Time will tell I guess. Not familiar with the company, so I have no clue what their track record is concerning things like this.

  • http://captainwrong.blogspot.com/ Rob G.

    Fake widescreen is going to be the modern pan & scan. I just wonder will it take as long for a backlash as it did with P&S (and hell, there are plenty of people who would still buy “full screen” over letterboxed if we were on 4:3 TV sets. Those black bars really bug some people.)

  • http://www.awprunes.blogspot.com/ Larry Levine

    I wish the “Gulliver’s Travels” had starred Popeye as originally intended, the movie’s greatest weakness is it’s bland title character. That said, it’s still a pretty good feature & deserves top notch restoration.

  • http://segaltoons.com Steve Segal

    “two “Gabby” cartoons edited from the film’s outtakes”

    They probably are trying to say the character was taken from the film. I don’t believe Gulliver had much material edited out.

    And I agree with you, they should not change the aspect ratio, or at least give you an option to watch in the original framing.

    (Jerry, I just saw you at your Cartoon Dump show and now you’re posting at midnight, get some sleep)

  • tony mccarson

    I prefer “gulliver’s travels” & “mr bug goes to town” to be bought by warner bros & be restored and remastered on dvd by warner bros, just like what they did to popeye and superman. to the people:make your own campaign on demanding warner bros to purchase all the 20th century fleischer studios films including betty boop from the companies that own these films. to jerry beck: why don’t you be one of the people that tells koch and the other companies to sell the fleischer films to warner bros. “WB’s termite terrace” and “fleischer animation” ARE rivals to “disney animation” anyway!

  • http://thelink.concordia.ca Christopher Olson

    Regarding the box cover: Why is Gulliver’s right hand where his left hand should be?

  • jip

    “That said, it’s still a pretty good feature & deserves top notch restoration.”

    eh?
    Are we talking about the same picture here?
    Just because it’s animated and 80 years old, doesn’t mean it’s pretty good.
    Shrek is a better picture than this. And Shrek isn’t good at all.
    There are other, better pictures that deserve more attention than this.
    This needs to be viewed on google video or a $1 DVD.

  • AaronSch

    I wrote to Koch Vision back in December and received a nice reply in just a few days. However, Dan Gurlitz at Koch Vision stated that it will only be released in the new “enhanced” version and no OAR. The following is their statement regarding the release:

    “The March 2009 KOCH Vision release of Max Fleischer’s Gulliver’s Travels on Blu-ray (and on standard-def DVD) has been restored and re-mastered from the original source 35mm film by North Hampton Partners, the same company that received universal acclaim for their restoration work on the 60th Anniversary Edition DVD ten years ago. These talented individuals have gone back to the same source materials and used the best technology available to present the film in a manner consistent with today’s standards. This ambitious process included the decision to enhance the film, frame-by-frame, for 16×9 – so that it could be fully appreciated and enjoyed on HD televisions. North Hampton Partners firmly believes that their efforts have resulted in the best version of Gulliver’s Travels ever available to the consumer market. KOCH Vision is extremely proud to release these newly restored editions and stands behind them 100%. We kindly ask that you reserve your opinions until you have had the opportunity to personally experience these new editions of Gulliver’s Travels for yourself.”

    I really want this title on Blu-ray but I am going to wait for some reviews.

  • Steve Siegert

    I was curious and so I checked out their website. They don’t offer much in classic animation. This Gulliver release will be their third animation release overall. Their other two projects appear be licensed from Hearst Entertainment, as they have made a Krazy Kat collection, as well as a Popeye collection. The Popeye set they released 5 years ago was in celebration of Popeye’s 75th anniversary, but of course all they could release were the KFS TV cartoons from the 1960′s. So, they certainly are not a public domain video label.

    Aside from what they have to offer, I have done a quick search through Google to see what I can find. Obviously their Popeye collection has received fairly poor reviews since most people, including myself prefer the Fleischer classics. Some of their other non-animation products on Amazon.com have received poor customer reviews as well.

    While it would be nice to have a restored version of this film, I think that it is a mistake to present this film in widescreen. I will hold onto the Digiview release of Gulliver until it is determined whether this version would be a smart purchase.

  • Ryan

    Blech, that box cover is horrendous. I’d probably buy it, it’s one of those really, it’s a maybe. Suppose I’ll see what others think first. Then I can relive such memorable lines as “There’s nobody here but Us… Chickens!”.

    Jip, I admire your cynicism. It’s true that just because something’s animated old, it doesn’t make it good. I still prefer this over Shrek though.

  • Paul N

    Already got a copy on DVD, and I doubt the “restoration” made the story any better…

  • MGH

    Popeye played Gulliver on the 19/2/37 episode of the Popeye Radio Show.

  • Saturnome

    No way I buy something that isn’t OAR. That’s how I was raised, to respect how something was made, not to correct it for my own superficial expectations. I wouldn’t want someone to butch my stuff.

    I hope a OAR is included if it’s a release of quality.

  • http://www.cartoonresearch.com Jerry Beck

    Kevin Dougherty – I wasn’t trying to hide the name of company that could restore Gulliver’s Travels. I figured our readers knew it already. Viacom holds the nitrate master elements for Gulliver at the UCLA Film & Television Archives in Hollywood. It is part of their Republic Entertainment holdings. The Republic properties are licensed to Lionsgate Entertainment for Home Video. Lionsgate could initiate the restoration for home video sale. They have the financial incentive to do it. However, the people running that company have little interest in the bulk of the library they control. (They also have the Betty Boop cartoons, George Pal Puppetoons, and dozens of other classic animation series).

  • Jenny Lerew

    I’m fairly knowledgable and I didn’t know who owns the original Gulliver materials. It did seem you pointedly avoided naming “the company”. Is Viacom that touchy?

    The best thing about this film IMHO is Leonard Maltin’s description of it in “Of Mice and Magic”-both fair and complimentary where it’s deserved, and laugh-out-loud hilarious where it’s also deserved(I believe there’s something in there about Gabby being possibly the most grating/obnoxious character in feature animation history).
    Otherwise I [unwillingly] remember this film for its hyper-realistic Gulliver giving me the creeps as a 5 years old(or a 15 year old, or a 30 year old), and the earworm “Hap-hap-happy Day”.

  • Diana Green

    Agreed with Larry. Gulliver would be a much better film if that big guy wasn’t in it!
    Wasn’t there a VHS restoration for the 60th anniversary, later out on cheap DVD?
    I agree, there’s a need for a proper Gulliver/ Hoppity box a la disney Treasures.
    whose feet at Lionsgate do we hold to which fire?

  • Diana Green

    I just went to the link and looked at the cover art.
    Be afraid. Be very afraid.

  • http://www.jessica-plummer.com Jessica Plummer

    Ugh….WHO do these guys get now-a-days to do cover box art??? I see 18 year-olds on deviantArt who would blow these renderings far out of the deepest water…and probably (sadly) on a cheaper fly too. Even official Disney box art makes me cringe.

    And that’s more like a hybrid/overtly rotated right hand on Gulliver…or a left hand with a right hand thumb. =\

  • fishmorgjp

    Eh, that DVD cover isn’t all that bad—at least they don’t try to make it look like like CGI. That hand does looks weird. I dunno, though, I never could stand Gabby even when I was a kid. I always though he was really annoying!

  • Bing Kombo

    It was probably a mistake for the Fleischers to enter into the feature arena but, for all it’s flaws, “Gulliver’s Travels” is a fascinating, sometimes beautiful experiment. The incidental music for the picture is exceptional. I can even get through ‘Faithful/Forever’ from time to time. I think, like a lot of Fleischer pictures, the quality of the print reveals or obscures how finely crafted these things were. As to the irritating voice of Gabby I think Maltin was being a little hard on the character. Frankly I find Tweety’s voice far more difficult to bear but that’s just my opinion.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    Often things that Jerry tells us of the ‘inside stuff’ makes me cry inside.

    Still, it’s nice this film isn’t overlooked entirely if those companies feel we need another umpteenth release on the latest digital breakthrough medium.

  • http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/marmaladearmy Doug

    Well, a couple years ago I grabbed one of those horrid dollar bin versions at, yup, WalMart. And though I’d love to see a restored version i don’t think I’d pay for it. I found it pretty tough to watch(though I admit some of that may be due to the abomination of this WallyWorld special).

  • http://www.cartooncrazys.com Peter Rosenberg

    The film is not letterboxed 16×9 , it’s in full screen on a modern lcd tv and nothing was removed or cut out to fit this format. We did not stetch it either, we added back was removed previouly for the tv verssion and incldued the dafe area’s and then created and added new imeage area to the sides where no characters appeared and everything is in proper proportion. We did the previous best version every raved about when we released our Winstar version. It is the simply best version every done by the guys who did the previous best version ever done and we consdier this a new 21st century version that millions or new viewers and all the old ones can enjoy for years to come. We hope to make new fans for Fleischer Studios. It was discussed with Richard Fleischer, Max’s son and our good friend as a film project right before his passing and he encouraged us to do it this way and gave us his blessing. This will preserve and present this great film and was done with repect for Max Fleicsher with the same care and attention to detail that he would have done if he had done it himself. The previews were simply fantastic.

  • http://www.cartooncrazys.com Peter Rosenberg

    Clearly the critics and so called experts should withhold judgement until the film is released and they see it and how fantastic it is and how well it was done, It would be better if the critics here studied the new technology and knew what was possible and trusted us that we would not butcher or alter the original film which is our all time favorite.

  • http://www.inthebalcony.com Laughing Gravy

    Hmmmm. Don’t get so friggin’ defensive. The WinStar version was the ONLY WinStar DVD I ever recommended; beautiful sound and picture, so long as you didn’t use that awful “surround sound” remix, which is absolutely unlistenable. There are a LOT of things you can do with “new technology” Mr. Rosenberg that you SHOULDN’T do with classic films, and making an Academy ration film a widescreen film is one of them. That said, I will withhold judgment until I’ve seen it. I happen to be a big fan of this film.

  • http://www.cartoonresearch.com Jerry Beck

    Peter Rosenberg – Cartoon Brew will be happy to accept any review copies you happen to send our way. In fact, we’d be happy to give a few promotional copies away to our readers in one of our regular trivia contests.

  • JJ

    “by North Hampton Partners, the same company that received universal acclaim for their restoration work on the 60th Anniversary Edition DVD ten years ago. ”

    And THAT release was awful. REALLY bad.

    sigh….here’s hoping it’ll bet some respect some day, even if it’s not the greatest film ever. And it must be one of very few examples of a film being PUSHED into widescreen rather than cropped FROM widescreen on video. (although Disney did issued Snow White, Fantasia, and Pinocchio “widescreen” in the early ’80′s–and that was awful enough).

  • http://www.cartooncrazys.com Peter Rosenberg

    Well we appreciate that you enjoyed the Winstar release and we would be happy to send you a copy for review and to en joy as soon as it’s released and we included a clean beautiful original soundtrack. The original was in 35mm and cut to fit tv screens in the 60′s but we restored all the lost images and safe area’s and it really looks terrific. We took over 12 months to do it and make sure it was right and as i said Tom discussed doing a wide screen version on film with Richard and he thought since the Fleischers were innovators in their own time Max would be delighted by our innovations and he trusted only us to do it right. The New Version on Blue Ray and DVD is dedicated to Richard Fleischer right on the box. I will make sure you get a copy.
    My partner Tom Reich says to send a special hello to Jerry Beck.

  • http://www.frankpanucci.com FP

    Re:
    –we added back was removed previouly for the tv verssion and incldued the dafe area’s–

    Well, heck, why didn’t ya say so.

  • Matthew K Sharp

    “The film is not letterboxed 16×9 , it’s in full screen on a modern lcd tv and nothing was removed or cut out to fit this format. We did not stetch it either, we added back was removed previouly for the tv verssion and incldued the dafe area’s and then created and added new imeage area to the sides where no characters appeared and everything is in proper proportion.”

    So let me check I’ve got this: you’ve taken a 4×3 film, popped it in the centre of the 16×9 frame, and then drawn new bits of background art to fill in the gaps at the sides? Interesting. Weird, but interesting. Years ago I heard someone proposing something similiar to convert episodes of I Love Lucy to widescreen. I didn’t know anyone had ever actually used the idea.

  • Kenneth Henderson

    Koch has been around for a longtime as an importer of classical recordings from many good independent Europea labels of the time like Harmonia Mundi from the then West Germany. Koch Vision came along and they had a lot of shortterm titles in sets of two titles etc and TV shows like Annie Oakley, The twofers were cheap and I got some. They seemed to have disapeared now from the catalogues. Koch Lorber was a combining with Fox Lorber who was tied with WinStar(I have this release) and may have been a company owned by Warners at the time like New Line is. Fox Lorber specialized in European film classics of modern times and had the best recommended ver of French The Umbrellas of Cherbourg which I got. There was a disc with all 8 Gaby titles on it so it is surprsiing, perhaps, that these are not on the new titles.

    I have memories of seeing Gulliver as part of the Paramount package sold to a network here around the time these were available to Australian TV. It was a Sunday night and it was screened(in b&w, of course, but often the stations were sent old color copies of films in these b&w times) at 7.30pm instead of 8.30pm so kids could see it before going to bed for school the next day. 8.30pm was often the latest kids were put to bed in those days but TV(I feel) started to change all this. I liked the film and the music and enjoy the recordings made by various dance bands of the main tunes, particularly, those of British dance Bands of the 30s & 40s. I also like Mr Bugs or Hoppity as it is on some prints I have seen. I have never seen a DVD of this title that ends properly. The end credits always seem to be chopped off. A bit like Asian pirate DVDs I have seen, they never complete the credits. Funny that.

    I would be buying the release and probably in Blu Ray as I have a Blu Ray computer player from LG. The DVD version should be packaged with the Blu ray like Disney is doing. I would pay up to $5 more for this. Adding the original edition/ratio and soundtrack is a must for any classic movie restored for modern audiences. It covers all tastes and desires of collectors, and rightly so.

    On Viacom as Paramount’s owner, I abhor their policy of tampering with TV shows they own with new soundtracks, scenes cut or altered like Happy Days & Desilu’s The Untouchable series. I believe Paramount was doing this before Viacom ownership. The first one I struck was the laserdisc of Come Back, Little Sheba that had the music removed and replaced with other melodies. Beware also that some DVDs from other majors have been altered from previous VHS & laserdisc. Things like trailers and overtures that were on the previous formats. Warners chopped a sequence from Wonder Bar out of their DVD of the Busby Berkeley compilation disc but it is on the laserdisc version. Warner’s policy with similar content on old Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies should have overridden any deletion from the Busby DVD.

    Any corrections to my comments would be appreciated & welcomed

  • http://www.cartooncrazys.com Peter Rosenberg

    it wasn’t a 4×3 movie on the film print, it was 35 mm. and the 4×3 version seen on tv was panned and scanned and had image removed for the tv safe area’s. We obtained one of the only 35mm film masters available still and we are planning on doing all 17 Max Fleischer’s Superman episodes later this year as well as using Max Fleischer’s original notes to re assemble them into the full length movie he had originally wanted to do and had planned on doing at a later date when he did the cartoons for Paramount.

    We know everyone will be thrilled when they see how great Gullivers Travels came out and it’s a shame Jack Black is butchering this great classic into another piss poor film version. At least Ted Danson can rest now.

    Yes were North Hampton Partners the one and only who did the Winstar versions and Koch is a great compnay and spared no expense to ensure this Blue Ray version is the best every done. We worked with Technicolor, Media Echelon and Airwaves Sound design and even included a clean original sound track and a 5.1 dolby digital surround trck too.

  • http://www.cartooncrazys.com Peter Rosenberg

    We also added back about 5 minutes of scenes that were previously edited out for tv.

  • Keith Paynter

    “This film has been modfied to fit your screen. The chopped off foreheads and shins are normal.”

  • AaronSch

    Geezus, this is scary. It’s like trimming the Mona Lisa to fit a new frame. I just wish Warner Bros. was releasing both Fleischer’s Superman and Gulliver’s Travels on Blu-ray disc and DVD. That would pretty much put an end to the public domain abominations.

  • Oliver

    So the Fleischers were technical innovators and therefore would have welcomed modern public domain video companies reframing, scoring and editing their personal film… That’s logic for you.

    Hey that old dead guy would’ve surely agreed with us, had he been around to make movies… fifty years later!

    duh.

    Completely idiotic.

  • Matthew K Sharp

    Peter Rosenberg> it wasn’t a 4×3 movie on the film print, it was 35 mm. and the 4×3 version seen on tv was panned and scanned and had image removed for the tv safe area’s.

    That’s just nonsense, isn’t it? For starters, the image on the 35mm film would be 1.37:1, which is as close to 4:3 as makes no difference; it certainly doesn’t give you enough extra image to play around with to expand it to 16:9. The original telecine tranfers of Gulliver may have been zoomed in slightly as was the trend at the time, so you might gain a little bit of extra picture by doing a new telecine and pulling right back to get the entire picture area. But there’s no way you could define a bit of telecine zoom as “pan and scan”. And it really doesn’t have anything to do with the TV safe area – overscan, perhaps, but not the safe area.

    I’m going to have to buy this DVD now, if only to find out what you’ve actually done to it.

  • steveg

    The Blu-Ray version was reviewed on DVD Beaver — http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film2/DVDReviews44/gullivers_travels_blu-ray.htm

    They sadly couldn’t recommend it and suggested the Hal Roach DVD. Others have recommended the Winstar DVD or wait for a Hallmark Entertainment reissue of the Hal Roach version.

  • http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=052C631F61EE2838 Iain

    The “Gulliver” mockery-of-a-disc (I checked out the screencaps too) is actually coming out next week here in Canada. Guess that gives us curling-loving folk more time to hear the warnings.

    I got Pinocchio today, pretty good set, I also got the twelfth season of South Park and the infamous George Lucas production Howard the Duck.

  • d mack

    very strange… Got this email after posting a review at amazon…

    “Hi, you don’t know me and I choose to remain anonymous (or as anonymous as one can be these days), but I thought you’d be interested in this email I got from someone who worked on the new Koch Gulliver’s Travels Blue-ray/DVD. She has an adult website on which I was briefly a member, because I had met her on a dating site (which was actually a way to lure guys to her website) – I still receive emails as an ex-member. I could not believe the nerve of her asking me to be a shill for this botched release. THIS is where most of the positive reviews are coming from:

    —————————————-

    “Dear Cindysinx.com members and friends. I had a wonderful birthday this weekend and i wanted to thank all of you who send me cards or gifts. I also wanted to ask you for some help.

    As some of you know i work days in film and tv production and last November and December I worked on a project called “Gullivers Travels” for Koch E1 which was a restored version of the classic Fleischer Film done straight to Blue Ray and DVD. A former employee is trying to ruin our star rating on Amazon.com with false comments and lies and we need to get all my friends, members and people on my mailing list to go there and write some good positive reviews so we can get our star rating up to 5 stars. They don’t have to be long just very positive and please rate this product 5 stars. I can get a big bonus if we make 5 stars and this would really help me in this poor economy. Plus if we get the rating up to 4 or 5 stars Koch will go ahead with a new movie project from us and we’re scheduled to do Max Fleischer’s Superman next. I need all my friends and members to please go to the links i pasted below on Amazon.com and please write some good positive reviews for me. I have attached some examples below to help you write them

    I’m going to have a special contest with special prizes for the member or former member who writes the best review. I am going to read all the reviews and select the person or persons who write the best review and they will receive either a free 6 month membership to my site and any 4 of my DVD’s absolutely free. For the members who write the second and third best reviews i will give them a free month and a free DVD. Also if someone writes something really terrific i will also offer to do a free one hour private one on one cam session at your convenience and do whatever you want for you and be totally nude and all yours for an hour, it’s your choice.

    I hope that i can count on all my friends to help me with this, it’s very important to me and you will have my thanks and gratitude and really be helping me. I’m grateful for your assistance and i know i can count on you all. Thank you!

    Yours truly,
    Cindysinx”
    ___________

    The 5 star reviews over there are a joke. They all say, “I just watched this DVD on Blue Ray…”