Cover Art and Menus: 8/10
I love the cover for the Sword in the Stone. This cover is a bit of a change from the 2001 Gold Collection cover, as it adds more to the shot of Wart removing the sword from the stone, with Merlin, Sir Ector and Kay, and just overall more of a background. It is a nice, classic Disney type cover.
The menu is pretty good as well. There is a shot of the sword in the stone, as the camera closes in on the hilt. Again, as with almost all recent Disney releases, there is a Fast Play option that allows viewers with kids to keep some semblance of sanity, as you can skip the previews if your kids simply cannot wait another minute for the show to begin.
The 45th year anniversary edition of the Sword in the Stone is chock full of extras. The only problem is that the 2001 Gold Collection release of the movie also was chock full of extras. While not 100% identical in terms of extra content, it is interesting to note that Disney may be running out of goodies for these older releases. I would have expected a much more intensive list of extras for this release, but that is not the case.
Included on the disk are two animated shorts entitled “Knight for a Day” and “Brave Little Tailor,” featuring Goofy and Mickey respectively. These shorts are animated bits that have the same timeframe as the movie itself.
There is also a bit entitled “Music Magic: the Sherman Brothers.” This is a documentary that follows the two brothers as they created the music for the movie. They discuss a song that was written for the movie that did not make it into the final version of the film, and they also discuss the other Disney classics that they worked on.
There is also a short bit from the 1957 Disney television show that has Walt Disney himself taking a tour of the props room at Disney. The piece is entitled “All About Magic,” and it is presented in black and white.
There is also a new “Merlin’s Magical Academy Game” that is an interactive game that is geared towards kids. It is part trivia and part clicking items on the screen.
Rounding out the extras are some sing-a-longs from some of the songs in the film, a scrapbook with shots from the film and artwork drawn for the movie, and some previews.
Overall, a great mix of extras. It is just interesting to note that there is not a big difference between this release and the 2001 Gold Collection release.
The Sword and the Stone was always one of my favorite Disney films. What is not to like about the classic story of King Arthur and Merlin? Wizards and magic and swords and fighting – oh my! The classic tale of Wart, the scrawny misfit who ends up being the true chosen one is an underdog tale if there ever was one, and I can remember loving the Sword and the Stone from way back in my youth. I was excited to relive that magic, as the last time I had seen the movie, I was much younger, and it was before the current Pixar animation revolution. I was looking forward to seeing the old classic (originally made in 1963 for those of you who are having trouble doing the math), and how well it would hold up in our high definition, super animated age. All in all, I thought the Sword in the Stone held up reasonably well.
Wart, as he is not so affectionately called by Sir Ector, and his son Kay, is training to become Kay’s squire. Wart is short on brawn, and both Sir Ector and Kay seem to have more muscle than brains, and so they seem to despise the young boy. Wart’s training is harsh, and Wart is forced to do tasks that are nothing short of mean spirited. Lets just say there is not a lot of compassion shown for the boy.
Wart ends up befriending the absent minded wizard Merlin, who is accompanied by the crotchety old owl Archimedes, who is also not too fond of the young Wart. Thus begins the adventures of Wart as Merlin tries to train him for his destiny, which he believes ends up with Wart becoming the King of England. Merlin ends up having Wart view the world from three different perspectives, as he changes the boy in to a fish, a squirrel, and a bird.
The story continues as Merlin prepares the boy for his future, and eventually we are shown Wart realize his potential, as he is revealed to be the chosen one, as he removes the sword from the stone, to take his place as the rightful heir to the thrown.
A classic tale, and told in a way that is both funny and smart. While the Sword in the Stone was not the masterpiece that I remembered as a child, it is a great movie, and it is fun to watch. The pacing of the film dragged a bit in the middle, but overall it was enjoyable, and a nice flashback to when life was less complex.
Video & Audio: 8/10
The video on the DVD was very clean and colorful. The transfer is very similar to the 2001 release of the Sword in the Stone, with no apparent upgrade mentioned. Most of the Disney classics come across very well on DVD, and the Sword in the Stone is no exception.
The audio was presented in 5.1 surround sound, and was again very good. There is a nice mix between the dialogue and the music, which is loud and crisp for this movie. Again, obviously updated, but the 2001 release also included the 5.1 surround sound also.
For any Disney fan, the Sword in the Stone is a must have on DVD. The movie is great, and the presentation is superb. That being said, if you already have the 2001 Gold Collection release, the 45th year does not add enough new extras or features to warrant buying the movie again. Perhaps they are going to add some new groundbreaking features in the 50th year release.
Overall Score 7/10