Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Sword in the Stone (45th Anniversary Special Edition)

Written by Senora Bicho

I admit it; I am a bit biased when it comes to the classic Disney animated films. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the newer films too, and especially everything from Pixar, but the older films feel like coming home and offer an innocent charm. The Sword in the Stone is no exception. I have not watched this movie in a long time but always remembered it fondly. The new 45th anniversary edition lived up to those fond memories.

The Sword in the Stone is the story of Arthur, the boy who would be king. The story is set in historic England at a time of great unrest. The King has died with no heir and no one can agree on a successor, which places a dark cloud over the country. One day a miracle occurs and a sword miraculously appears in a stone. The engraving states that whoever can pull the sword out of the anvil will be king. Many try unsuccessfully and so the sword was soon long forgotten.

Cut to Merlin the Magician who is anxiously awaiting a houseguest. His grouchy companion owl, Archimedies, accompanies him. Arthur, an 11-year-old boy, who lives with his foster father and brother, soon joins them. He is basically their slave and has ambitions to be a squire. Merlin explains that he is to be his mentor and will teach him how to use his brain instead of focusing on brawn. Merlin and Arthur go on several adventures as Arthur learns many valuable life lessons. The best scene of the film is when Arthur competes in a wizards’ duel with Mad Madam Mim and proves the benefits of higher learning and brainpower.

The story is simple but offers a good message. The characters are entertaining and engaging and are set within a solid and interesting story. Archimedies has always been my favorite and still steals the show. There are very few songs but those included are fun. The animation looks terrific. The picture is crisp with bright colors. The sound is also nice clear.

There are not too many extras offered in the new edition. First is the only new item offered, “Merlin’s Magical Academy Game” that includes many different activates as players try to earn shields. All of the rest of the bonus features were on previous editions.

“Bonus Movie Shorts” includes Goofy in “A Knight for a Day” and Mickey Mouse in “The Brave Little Tailor.” “Disney Song Selection” allows viewers to jump right to their favorite song and also puts the words on the screen for sing-a-longs.

“Music Magic: The Sherman Brothers” highlights the incredible musical talent behind the movie. The Sherman Brothers were involved with many Disney movies and they appear in the extras on many of the classic Disney films. The brothers are included in the featurette and share about their experiences.

“Backstage Disney” includes a featurette called “All About Magic” and has Walt Disney talking viewers on a journey through a magic property room. It also includes a scrapbook of the artwork from the film along with film facts.

I can’t speak to the difference in picture and sound quality in this edition as compared to the last edition since this is the first time I have watched it on DVD but it isn’t mind-blowing to look at or listen to as compared to other films that have been re-mastered recently. I didn’t think it was that different from my old VHS copy really. If you already own “The Sword in the Stone” on DVD I don’t see any reason to add this one to your collection. Compared to animated films that come out these days, children may be bored by this but as a kid at heart I still enjoy this one even just to pop it in on occasion to watch a few of my favorite scenes.