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The Sword in the Stone: 50th Anniversary Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 31, 2013 by  



theswordinthestone

“The Sword in the Stone” is a fun, adventurous and a lighthearted family film from Disney about believing in magic and hope. “The Sword in the Stone: 50th Anniversary Edition” on Blu-ray is the definitive version of the film to own on video!

Images courtesy of © 2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Sword in the Stone: 50th Anniversary Edition

FILM RELEASE: 1963

DURATION: 79 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French DTS-HD HR 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, Subtitles: English SDH

COMPANY: Walt Disney Home Entertainment

RATED: G (General Audiences)

Release Date: August 6, 2013

Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman

Story by Bill Peet

Book by T.H. White

Produced by Walt Disney

Music by George Bruns

Edited by Donald Halliday

Art Direction by Ken Anderson

Featuring the voices of:

Sebastian Cabot as Sir Ector/Narrator

Kari Swenson as Merlin

Rickie Sorensen as Wart

Junius Matthews as Archimedes

Ginny Tyler as Little Girl Squirrel

Martha Wentworth as Madam Mim/Old Lady Swuirrel

Norman Alden as Sir Kay

Alan Napier as Sir Pellinore

Richard Reitherman as Wart

Robert Reitherman as Wart

Disney proudly presents the 50th anniversary edition of a spellbinding and beloved animated classic. Conjure up magical family fun with the humor, adventure, and Academy Award-nominated music (best score – adaptation or treatment, 1963) of The Sword In The Stone – on DVD and now on Blu-ray combo pack for the first time ever! Take an amazing journey with a young orphan named “Wart” and the extraordinary wizard Merlin. According to legend, only someone with the purest character and inner strength can pull the enchanted sword from the stone and claim the throne of England. Armed with newfound confidence and the power of friendship, Wart discovers his destiny and learns the best magic is the kind you find inside yourself!

In 1963, the 18th Walt Disney Animated Classics film “The Sword in the Stone” was released in theaters.

Based on the novel of the same name by T.H. White, “The Sword in the Stone” was the sixth highest grossing film of 1953 and was nominated for an Academy Award for “Best Score – Adaptation or Treatment”.

While the film may not be well-known to today’s audiences, back in 1963, the film entertained families and received very good ratings worldwide, especially in the UK.

With a re-release in theaters in 1972 and 1983, for its 50th Anniversary, “The Sword in the Stone” will be released on Blu-ray featuring new digital restoration.

“The Sword in the Stone” begins with the introduction that in 6th Century England, the king, Uther Pendragon had died and there was no heir to the throne.  And without a king, “the land would be torn by war”.

A “Sword in the Stone” mysteriously appears in London proclaiming that those who can pull out the sword from the stone will be the next king of England.  But no one has been successful and England entered the Dark Ages.

We are the introduced to Merlin the legendary wizard and Archimedes (Merlin’s smart but also fussy owl who can talk) and Merlin talks about waiting for a 12-year-old scrawny boy to arrive at the his home.  He is not sure who the boy is but he knows that fate will direct him to Merlin’s home and Merlin’s responsibility is to guide him to his place in the world.

We are then introduced to Arthur (a.k.a. “Wart”), a 12-year-old orphan who is training to be a squire.  He accompanies his older foster brother Kay on a hunting trip but prevents his brother from killing the deer.

As Arthur goes to retrieve the arrow, he falls and lands inside Merlin’s home and immediately, Merlin becomes Arthur’s tutor.  When Merlin escorts Arthur back home, he meets Sir Ector, Arthur’s foster father who tends to punish Arthur quite often.

Merlin tries to talk to Sir Ector that he wants to tutor Arthur, but Ector does not believe in magic.  So, in order to make him believe, Merlin creates a blizzard but instead of getting permission, Ector will not allow Merlin to train Arthur.

Meanwhile, Sir Pellinore comes with news for Merlin that the annual jousting tournament will be held on New Year’s Day in London and the winner will be the new king of England.  As Sir Ector trains Kay for the tournament, Merlin ends up training Arthur.  But not on weapons or fighting but to learn from animals.  Merlin transforms Arthur into a fish to learn about physics, a squirrel to learn about gravity and to a sparrow in order to learn how to fly.  But when Arthur is attacked by a hawk and flies down the witch Madam Mim’s chimney (she and Merlin are enemies), she uses her magic in order to find a way to kill Arthur.

But with all this trouble happening, will Merlin be able to train Arthur before the tournament?

VIDEO:

“The Sword in the Stone: 50th Anniversary Edition” is presented in 1080p High Definition for the very first time. For a film that is 50-years old, two things you will notice about the picture quality is how much cleaner this copy of the film is.  It’s important to note that there was quite a bit of DNR utilized to clean this film up and this is where those who who are against DNR will have a problem with this film’s loss of grain as opposed to those who feel the film looks better without it.

No white specks, dust or any problems can be seen with this new digital restoration.  Colors are much more vibrant, backgrounds tend to show much better clarity and I didn’t notice any banding issues.   The animation has a sketched style in which the line art is well-done, no jagged edges.  Art backgrounds look like watercolors and have a distinct art style compared to other Disney animated films.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Sword in the Stone: 50th Anniversary Edition” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English Dolby Digital 2.0, French DTS-HD HR 5.1 and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1.  While “The Sword in the Stone” is presented with a lossless soundtrack, dialogue and music is crystal clear but it’s primarily a front channel driven film.  There is surround sound usage but primarily to compliment the musical soundtrack.  But I didn’t notice any hiss or crackling considering the film is 50-years-old.

For the most part, this is the best soundtrack available for “The Sword in the Stone” on video at this time and fans of the film should be quite pleased with the overall lossless audio soundtrack.

Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Sword in the Stone: 50th Anniversary Edition” comes with the following special features:

  • Alternate Opening: Where Wart Meets Merlin – (4:02) A short featurette’s about one of the alternate opening of when Wart meets Merlin.
  • Games & Activities – Merlin’s Magical Academy – An interactive remote game in which a player can earn merits.
  • Music Magic: The Sherman Brothers – (6:00) An old featurette featuring the Sherman brothers discussing the writing for the music of “The Sword in the Stone”.
  • Disney Song Selection – Featuring the music portions of the film with optional lyrics: “The Legend of the Sword in the Stone”, “Higitus Figitus”, “That’s What Makes the World Go Round”, “A Most Befuddling Thing”.
  • Backstage Disney – All About Magic (Exerpt) – (7:20) A classic black and white special hosted by Walt Disney who talks about magic.
  • The Sword in the Stone Scrapbook – Look at various images and concept art from the film using your remote (or via keyboard).
  • Film Facts – Text based facts about “The Sword in the Stone”.
  • A Knight for a Day – (7:05) A classic Goofy animated short featuring Goofy as a knight and taking part in a tournament.
  • The Brave Little Tailor – (9:01) A classic animated short featuring Mickey Mouse, who is a tailor enlisted to fight against the big giant.

EXTRAS:

“The Sword in the Stone: 50th Anniversary Edition” comes with a slipcover.  Also, include is a DVD and digital copy version of the film.

It has been a very long time since I watched the “Sword in the Stone”.  The last time I remember watching it was when I was a child and my mother would take us to the local Fox Theater which was having a summer Disney screening.

But having watched this film in 2013, it’s a film that many people can get into as the character of Arthur is an underdog.  Because he is not seen as a warrior, hunter and more or less a squire by his family, not much is expected of this young 12-year-old.

But for Merlin, he has seen the future and that he will be responsible for directing this child and preparing him for the chance to pull out the sword from its stone and become the next King of England.

Of course, this is a Disney film and a family film, so what Disney animated film would it be without the animals.  In the case of “The Sword in the Stone”, the story of Merlin the wizard, the young Arthur and the talking owl Archimedes take part in a variety of adventures as Arthur undergoes training.

From being turned into a fish and learning about physics, Arthur is attack by a pike.  Turned into a squirrel to learn about gravity, he is attacked by a wolf.  And as Arthur is turned into a sparrow in order to learn how to fly, he is attacked by a hawk.  And it opens up to a confrontation between Merlin and his nemesis, the witch Madam Mim.

The film is not about war or battling but how a young naive boy (who is often in trouble by his foster family) but a story of one believing in oneself, believing in magic and for the most part, watching this timid boy go through adventures through his transformations alongside Merlin.  Possibly one of the most interesting segments of the film is when both Merlin and Arthur are turned into squirrels and both are targeted by female squirrels who have chosen them as mates.  While the female squirrels divert their love towards the male squirrels they have fallen for, it’s an interesting scene to watch and see Arthur having to break the little girl squirrel’s heart.

Overall, “The Sword in the Stone” may not be the most memorable or most popular Disney animated film but it was an animated film that gave Disney its take on the legend of King Arthur.

The characters are memorable, the story is uplifting and the for the most part, fans of the film or those who grew up with the film and are wanting to introduce it to a new generation of Disney fans, will find “The Sword in the Stone” to be fun, adventurous and a lighthearted family film about believing in magic and hope.

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