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  • Writer's pictureCollin Souter

Week # 46: "James and the Giant Peach"

(Originally published on 11/14/22)


James and the Giant Peach

Run time: 79 min.

Release Date: April 12, 1996

Where/when I first saw it: On video.

How I watched it today: On Disney+, Saturday morning

It would appear that Disney had three plates spinning at once on their animation department: Traditional, Pixar and stop-motion, thanks to Henry Selick’s follow-up to “Tim Burton’s A Nightmare Before Christmas.” This would come to a halt once this film had been released. Despite using safe source material, songs by Randy Newman and a mix of live-action and animation (harkening back to the days of Disney's experimentation with the form), this would be the last of the stop motion animation films for the studio in this decade. What a pity.

Selick’s “James and the Giant Peach” deserved better. It showcases yet another impeccably crafted piece of animation from the team that did “Nightmare” and succeeds in bringing another original vision to the screen in a colorful, tangible form. Roald Dahl’s stories have had rocky results as cinematic adaptations, but this has always been one of the better ones. The songs by Randy Newman have a more lyrical polish to them than Elfman’s prose, even if these might not ring in your ears once it’s over. They still work as a whole. If the film is guilty of anything, it’s that it may not seem like it has enough substance to fill its already light running time of 79 minutes. Still, it’s never a chore to sit through.

Regarding the look of the film... I watched it on Disney+ after not having seen the film since 1996. I don’t remember it being this dark and with this murky of a color palette. I’m going to give Selick and his team the benefit of the doubt and chalk this up to sheer negligence on Disney’s part in keeping this title up to date with every new restoration. It’s in desperate need of brighter colors and a sharper image than what the streaming service provided. “James and the Giant Peach” has a lot to offer as far as visual flair. It’s too bad that we may never get to see it the way it was intended.

(if anyone can comment on the blu-ray transfer as being the same, worse or superior, I’d appreciate it)


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