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Lilo & Stitch: Big Wave Edition
March 23, 2009

Out on Tuesday is the updated 2-disc “Big Wave Edition” of Lilo & Stitch on DVD. I’ve talked previously about the content and why this is my favorite animated movie, so here, I’m mostly going to cover the particulars of this edition.

Lilo & Stitch: Big Wave Edition cover
Lilo & Stitch: Big Wave Edition
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(Although I will say that I especially appreciated the details of the setting and the views of the natural beauty and culture of Hawaii this time through. And I’d forgotten how Stitch stuck his feet in his mouth and rolled himself up into a ball. And the bit about it being an abomination to feed Pudge the fish tuna.)

The first disc contains the contents of the previous single disc with a few changes. These features were added:

“Your Ohana” music video, which is movie clips set to a kids’ song about family (“ohana”).

Three new onscreen games (in addition to the previous one). I don’t pay attention to DVD games, so I have no comment.

And the feature I was most eager for, after hearing about its existence on editions from other regions: commentary by the two directors, Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois. Oddly, this is not mentioned anywhere on the packaging; I thought commentaries were usually considered a draw, but maybe not for cartoons aimed at families.

Still present, and highly recommended, are the “Inter-Stitch-ials”, the four teaser trailers in which Stitch disrupts scenes from other Disney movies, including The Little Mermaid and Aladdin, and “A Stitch in Time”, the faux documentary following Stitch through Disney history.

Stitch and Stitch

And now we break to show you my co-reviewer: Stitch wanted to watch too, only he has his doll to make sure he’s not scared, because sometimes the movie is a little suspenseful. (What’s more comforting than a little stuffed version of yourself?) Back to the comments!

The new second disc has three main pieces:

  • a lengthy documentary (over two hours!)
  • documentary “footnotes”, which include snippets of other, referenced movies, art and design examples, and interviews with older animators
  • and deleted scenes and early alternate versions.

The doc is amazingly comprehensive, from planning to creation to voice recording (including the director’s dog who was part of Stitch’s voice). There were two items from the previous disc not included, “Young Voices of Hawaii” (working with the children’s choir that sings on the soundtrack) and “On Location With the Directors” (visiting Hawaii), but much of the material seems to have been included in this much longer piece.

In terms of the footnotes, I was fascinated by Sanders’ original pitch book, which is like a childrens’ story version of the movie with gorgeous sketches, only it’s the early version of the plot, with significant differences. There’s also his style book, with information on how to keep the characters consistent and more of his wonderful drawings. I loved the comparisons of Stitch to the Hercules style and Lilo to Calvin and Nani to Mulan. Seeing his principles — a key one of which is that the designs are gravity-driven — was enlightening. Plus he disses Mickey.

KC was more involved with the animator interviews because of their discussion of classic techniques. They relate because the creators of this film worked hard to make those kind of approaches work in the modern day. There’s also a ton of information on how the characters’ looks were created through demonstrations by the artists who drew them. Aspiring artists and animators will learn a ton of the kind of information that isn’t easily found elsewhere. This disc like an animation master class.

I thought it was a great idea to include the Dumbo snippet, because that was the last Disney film that used watercolor backgrounds. (They’re very difficult because that technique is harder to control when you’re working repetitively, as is necessary for animation. They easily become inconsistent in look because of the way the paint reacts with paper.) That’s an example of the way Lilo & Stitch does things well, even when they did it the hard way, creating a beautiful film through lots of hard work.

I would have appreciated a commentary option or text explanation of the value of some of the footnotes; even cooler would have been popups in the main doc that allowed you to view the reference if you wished by pressing a button on your remote. But KC pointed out that there’s already many many hours of material on this disc, and they may not have wanted to make it even longer.

As for the extra scenes, there were three deleted scenes on the previous release; this one has 5 plus 3 early takes (that look like wireframe animations or animatics). Disappointingly, one of the earlier extras isn’t included in this package. The lessons from “The Look of Lilo and Stitch” are covered in the extras on this new edition, but that previous featurette includes many of the animators talking about how they learned to work in Chris Sanders’ style, and that material wasn’t moved over. I very much dislike when new editions don’t completely replace the previous, because I’m trying to keep my DVD collection at a manageable size, not have duplicate copies. Still, this is an amazing movie that deserves to be part of any animation fan’s collection, with a truly extensive set of watchable features.

11 Responses  
Ed Sizemore writes:  

I’m always amazed to see how much a story changes while the film is in the process of being made. This seems especially true of animated films, since they are usually years in the making. I’m glad they included a featurette that shows the evolution of the story.

 
Thom writes:  

My one disappointment is…no Blu-Ray. :)

 
Greg McElhatton writes:  

Wow, it’s finally out! It’s only been held in reserve by Disney for, what, six years now? I know what I’ll be spending any sort of gift card on in the near future…

 
Johanna writes:  

Ed, this one is particularly interesting because Stitch was originally going to be about 30 with his own gang!

Thom, don’t you start! Although if this had been Blu-Ray, that might have converted me. :)

Greg, sometimes patience is a virtue, it’s true.

 
KC writes:  

Another very cool thing about the new expanded addition (and may explain – a little – about its long delay for US release) — The 747 footage from the original climax of the movie has been restored (as a couple of deleted/early versions) and the filmmakers are quite candid about why it was originally excised.

Fully scripted and mostly animated, the original climatic chase/rescue of Lilo from Gantu’s space ship, was to show Stitch and company commandeering a 747 from a local airport and using that (instead of the substituted Jumba and Pleakly’s spaceship), with the chase between the two flyers taking place in a highly populated downtown city setting (rather than in the mountains in the final version). Then the terrorist attacks of 9/11 happened – and the filmmakers – wisely – decided that airliners flying down urban city streets was probably not an image that anybody was particularly keen to see at that time – even in a cartoon.

It’s interesting to note that that the filmmakers themselves – not corporate Disney – made the decision to make the change and they discuss this fully in the documentary. The footage is both stunningly powerful and very funny. Interestingly, the sequence also was the focus of a major storytelling debate – also shown in the documentary – that had nothing to do with the 9/11 decision. It makes for fascinating Special Feature material.

Also, animation geeks will want to know that in the “footnotes” section, not mentioned anywhere on the packaging, are two 15-20 minute interviews with two of the great animators of the past including artist Maurice Noble (in one of his last interviews) and long-time Disney artist and writer Joe Grant (who passed away in 2005).

 
Johanna writes:  

Thanks for sharing those names, KC — I forgot to note them.

 
Johnny Bacardi writes:  

One reason why they didn’t promote the creator interviews more is because Sanders seems to be persona non grata at Disney these days after they pretty much took the recent flick Bolt, which he designed, away and completely changed the look and story. The Wiki for Bolt tells the story.

Also, do you know about Sanders’ on-hiatus webcomic Kiskaloo? It’s very well done and clever. You’ll need to click on the archives to read the strips…

 
Johanna writes:  

I linked to the strip when I discussed the changes in Bolt/American Dog, but that’s a great reminder, thanks!

 
Johnny B writes:  

I should have known you’d be on top of that! :)

 
Walt Disney Animation Collection: Classic Short Films Volumes 1-6 » Comics Worth Reading writes:  

[...] Symphonies series of shorts. It also serves as the inspiration for a sequence in the modern-day Lilo and Stitch (2002) movie, and thus it is a favorite of at least two members of our [...]

 
Alice in Wonderland » DVDs Worth Watching writes:  

[...] Dragon for two reasons: it’s co-directed by Chris Sanders, who was responsible for my beloved Lilo and Stitch, and it stars (as key voices) Jay Baruchel and Craig Ferguson, whom I both like. But I [...]

 
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