My Neighbor Totoro DVDs
Here's a quick look at the previous DVDs for My Neighbor Totoro. The one on the left is the old Fox pan-and-scan, and the one on the right is the 2006 Disney release. Both are now out of print, and we're awaiting the reissue of the movie in time for Christmas.
To be honest, I'm not sure why Disney is shutting down and reissuing their Totoro DVD. There was certainly nothing wrong with it; the subtitles were accurate (the Japanese R2 used "dub-titles"), the American dub was excellent, the packaging was very nice, and the picture was superb. They even remembered to put the title of the movie on the main menu - a very bizarre omission on their other American Ghibli DVDs.
I would be thrilled if the new Totoro DVD features the Japanese movie poster for its cover, the way Ghibli's DVDs are now released in Japan. I don't know what new changes would be needed for this "special edition" that aren't already available. Let's hope this isn't just a cynical cash-in on Disney's part. A John Lasseter commentary track would be nice. Heck, a Daniel Thomas commentary track would be even better.
I know there are a lot of people who still prefer the old dub from the Fox release, so there's a certain collector's value to be had with that older version. But I just couldn't stand the cover design, with its airbrushed colors and fake, plastic smiles. This old cover (on the VHS) kept me away from Totoro for many years; it was only after Roger Ebert wrote about the film for his Great Movies series that I changed my mind and decided to watch for myself. Isn't that crazy?
The matter of pan-and-scan is pretty obvious, and there's no need to rehash that old hangup. That's a crank habit that deserved to be buried, and I sincerely hope we never have to deal with the "full screen" fiasco again.