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  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
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    Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories
    Warner Vision/Warner Vision . R4 . COLOR . 120 mins . G . PAL


    Originally published in 1902, Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories, are a collection of tales that have kindled the imaginations of young children for over a century. Composed and refined as bedtime stories for Kipling's daughter Josephine, these fables from the early days of the earth’s creation are drawn from the tales that Kipling's Indian nurses told to him when he was a boy; embellished as they are with his eccentric imagination and astute observations of human nature. With the majority of the stories relating an explanation for some curious natural occurrence (how the camel got its hump, why whales eat only krill) and several relating mankind’s predilection for discovery (the first letter, how the alphabet was made), these short tales chronicle how some of the oddities that children observe in the world around them came to be just so.

    There are 12 stories in all, with each lasting an average of nine minutes - certainly within the attention span of even your most active toddler.

    How the Leopard got his Spots
    How the Whale got his Throat
    How the Camel got his Hump
    How the Rhinoceros got his Skin
    The Elephant’s Child
    The Sing-song of Old Man Kangaroo
    The Beginning of the Armadillo
    How the First Letter was Written
    How the Alphabet was Made
    The Crab that Played with the Sea
    The Cat that Walked by Himself
    The Butterfly that Stamped

    That gives nearly two hours of absurdly amusing storytelling fun!

    There’s no doubt that of all Kipling's writings for children, his Just So Stories are aimed at your youngest family members and, with a great deal of their charm stemming from Kipling's delightful, rhythmic language, they are most effective when read aloud. In this respect, with alliteration and rhyme being standard in today’s books for tots, Kipling was way ahead of his time in writing for a young audience. Thankfully this animated retelling of the stories, produced in 1991 for the BBC, sticks closely to Kipling’s original prose (copyright having expired some years ago), and narrates the stories over the top of quite simple animation. That the animation is simple is an important part of the production’s success - adding as it does to the somewhat old-world charm of the material, and not detracting from the language with showy or distracting visuals. The results are a delightful two hours that kids from the womb to seven or eight years of age will certainly enjoy. There’s no question that even after a century, Kipling’s Just So Stories remain a children’s classic, and this production is certainly a great way for your kids to get to know and love them.


    While the producers of Just So Stories have certainly done justice to this much-loved material, the full-frame video transfer can make no such boast. Presented on a single-sided disc, the image suffers from a wide variety of artefacts from each and every step in the mastering process; including the source material, its film-to-video transfer and the MPEG compression. Starting with the source material, the image exhibits a small yet constant number of film artefacts and a good deal of background grain. Moving on, it is the film-to-video process that supplies the transfer with its most annoying trait – the worst and most frequent case of telecine wobble I have ever seen. Finally, the MPEG compression process has added a distracting amount of pixelation to the image’s large areas of like colour. This pixelation combines with the film grain to generate several instances of distracting shimmer!

    All in all a pretty poor showing I think you’ll agree. This is not a transfer that does the material justice; and while your kids will undoubtedly enjoy the stories nonetheless, it is certainly not what we've come to expect from DVD transfers these days; not least from Warner Vision!

    In terms of audio, the disc provides a single soundtrack, a two-channel Dolby Digital mix in English that displays no surround or subwoofer activity when processed by your trusty Prologic decoder. Although disappointing in this respect, the transfer delivers where necessary and the all-important narration is clear and distinct, with Kipling’s prose easily understood at all times. The soundtrack’s only other noteworthy element is the score; being well suited to the material, and of the type that is typical of lower-budget children’s animated productions. It is fun without drawing too much attention to itself.

    The disc comes with no extras, but does provide a nice random play facility that allows you to ...er, play the stories in random order! In the end, and in spite of the disappointing video transfer, it is the material that ultimately wins through and I would definitely recommend this disc to anyone with young children.

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  •   And I quote...
    "Even after a century, Kipling’s Just So Stories remain a children’s classic, and despite a poor transfer, this disc is a great way for your kids to get to know and love them."
    - Gavin Turner
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Toshiba SD-2108
    • TV:
          Panasonic TC-68P90A TAU (80cm)
    • Receiver:
          Yamaha RX-V795
    • Amplifier:
          Yamaha RX-V795
    • Speakers:
          B&W 602
    • Centre Speaker:
          B&W CC6 S2
    • Surrounds:
          JM Lab Cobalt SR20
    • Subwoofer:
          B&W ASW-500
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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