on 2 January 2015
For many, this will not rank amongst Disney's finest, but it has a special place in the hearts of those who grew up with it on the cinema screen, on TV, VHS and DVD and I have been looking forward to getting it in a high resolution format release. It's one of my favourites due to many reasons, but I have always appreciated the animation style from the Disney films of this period, including the Jungle Book and Robin Hood. It's a scratchy, sketchy, energetic style, unlike the rich visuals from early Disney classics or the polished style that had evolved by the 1980s. Not that you'd know it from this blu-ray release, as every frame has been scrubbed clean to within an inch of it's life by the most horrific example of digital noise reduction you are ever likely to see.
Any dirt, film grain or scratches that may have been present in the source would have been much more welcome on my HD screen than this blurry, artificially smudged mess. Any detail that was originally there is now, well, not. There's a comparison video that somebody has posted on youtube which demonstates this very clearly. In one scene, the sword glows with individually animated stars, however on this blu-ray, they appear only as vague blobs.
I was determined to disbelieve the previous reviews on this score and purchased this disc on the high street. Thankfully, I was able to return it. To avoid similar disappointment, all you can do is wait in the hope that Disney realise what a terrible job they have made of this "digitally restored"/destroyed version and see fit to issue a proper release some time soon.
on 3 August 2007
Among Walt Disney's thirteen animated works, none has been put aside and forgotten as much as The Sword in the Stone, which is really a shame, knowing that this is a no less delightful Disney experience, it is different in the fact that it tells a different kind of story, it is less intriguing but it offers lots of cool scenes and some memorable characters.
The story in 1963's The Sword in the Stone revolves around education, education is the main theme and the moral is that you can't be anyone without a good education (Although in the real world we know that that isn't always the case). When England is left to perish without a king, a marvelous miracle occurs, a sword placed deep into a stone with the words that whoever pulls it out will be king of all England. Strong and mighty men give it a try, all failing and with time the sword is forgotten.
The people of England then decide to have a knight tournament, in which the winner will be crowned king of all England. Wise wizard Merlin soon realizes that it takes more than strength or plain brutality to rule a country so he decides to educate a young servant boy by the name of "Wart." With different tricks and the help of his wise owl Archimedes, Merlin manages to teach some of the most important lessons to the young boy. Each of these lessons are taught in fun ways, by turning Wart and himself into different sorts of animals, he teaches about intelligence against strength, gravity and even love while at the same time, showing him about how different animals must struggle to survive.
On the other hand, the son of Wart's master, Kay is the perfect example of no brain and pure strength, Merlin realizes having someone like him as king would bring the land to destruction so he must hurry and bring up Wart before Kay wins the knight tournament and is crowned King. In the end, Wart's hard-working brain defeat's Kay's strength and leads to be one of the greatest kings in the "history" of the United Kingdom.
Fun, colorful scenes, great characters and lively music make this a quite memorable Disney classic. Every scene from beginning to end is filled with fun, including one in which Merlin himself must use the logic of his own lessons to defeat the hilariously evil Madame Mim, once again, by turning into different animals, surely one of the greatest scenes in the film. Animation quality may not be of the sharpest kind, however the animation itself is lively and realistic, characters are very expressive and move about realistically. Backgrounds can get annoyingly "lazy" but are not as bad as in, say, "101 Dalmatians." The movie is a little dated because of its references to the 1960's, but it is still quite fun to watch at any time, any year. Highly recommended, being the last animated feature Walt Disney saw through completion and indeed one of their greatest and most interesting.
on 28 October 2014
THE SWORD IN THE STONE [1963/2013] [50th Anniversary Edition] [Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy] [US Release] It’s HIGUST-FIGITIS for Magical Mirth and Music! The Untold Legend of Young King Arthur and Merlin, the Madcap Magician!
Disney proudly presents the 50th anniversary edition of a spellbinding and beloved animated classic. Conjure up magical family fun with the humour, adventure and Academy Award® nominated music for Best Score: Adaptation or Treatment for George Burns in 1963 for `The Sword in the Stone' 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! Narrated by Sebastian Cabot.
FILM FACT: Awards and Nomination: 1963 Academy Awards®: Nominated: Best Score and Adaptation or Treatment. The film is based on the novel of the same name, first published in 1938 as a single novel. It was later republished in 1958 as the first book of T.H. White's tetralogy “The Once and Future King.”
Voice Cast: Sebastian Cabot (Narrator), Karl Swenson, Rickie Sorensen, Junius Matthews, Ginny Tyler, Martha Wentworth, Norman Alden, Alan Napier, Richard Reitherman, Robert Reitherman, Barbara Jo Allen (uncredited), Mel Blanc (uncredited), Fred Darian (uncredited), James MacDonald (uncredited), Tudor Owen (uncredited) and Thurl Ravenscroft (uncredited)
Director: Wolfgang Reitherman
Producer: Walt Disney
Screenplay: Bill Peet and T.H. White (based on the book)
Composers: George Bruns (score), Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman (songs)
Video Resolution: 1080p [Technicolor]
Aspect Ratio: 1.75:1
Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French: 5.1 DTS-HD HR, Spanish: 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese: 2.0 Dolby Digital, Russian: 2.0 Dolby Digital and English: 2.0 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Russian
Running Time: 79 minutes
Region: Blu-ray: All Regions and DVD: NTSC
Number of discs: 2
Studio: Walt Disney Home Entertainment
Andrew's Blu-ray Review: With the release of Walt Disney's `The Sword in the Stone' in 1963, the studio initiated an unfortunate series of uninspired animated titles which, with the occasional exception, seemed to stamp its once unmatched animated features with a new label of mediocrity. It wasn't until `The Little Mermaid' in 1989 that the Disney name reclaimed its glorious title as the hallmark in animation, but by then, there was a quarter of a century of damaged reputation to undo. On its own, `The Sword in the Stone' isn't a terrible animated feature so much as it's a forgettable one. With no memorable characters or take-away songs from the music score, the film slightly lacks the magic and surprise, but still a nice looking animation, especially now in the stunning Blu-ray format, something none of its animated classics from the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s were ever guilty of.
The sorcerer Merlin [Karl Swenson] knows that the young, fumbling page Wart [Rickie Sorensen] will one day rule England as King Arthur, but in order to get him ready, he subjects the lad to a series of experiences turning him into various animals in order to teach him valuable life lessons. With Merlin's wise owl Archimedes [Junius Matthews] as an assistant, Wart makes some progress in his lessons though his foster father Sir Ector [Sebastian Cabot] and foster brother Kay [Norman Alden] are none too happy to be losing their assistant as Kay prepares for a jousting tournament in London which will determine the new king since no one has yet been successful at pulling the enchanted sword from the stone which legend says will signify the rightful King of England.
Merlin's rather antic household magic is played strictly for laughs. The three experiences where Wart is changed into a fish and a bird, both of which are used to teach him lessons about brain over brawn and contain a fair share of action and excitement, and a squirrel, where he learns the powerful lure of sensual attraction, are animated well but without the real depth of background and vibrant colour that distinguished earlier masterpieces. The showdown between Merlin and the evil Mad Madame Mim [Martha Wentworth] perhaps contains the closest thing `The Sword in the Stone' possesses to Disney's earlier brilliance in imagination and execution, but even its brain-over-brawn theme is repetitive after the previous animal-transformation sequences. And the Sherman Brothers' score, their first for a Disney animated feature, contains no memorable tunes. "That's What Makes the World Go Round," the ditty used to teach the fish sequence lesson, is the most tuneful of the lot, and "Higitus Figitus" shows them coining their own words long before they arrived at Mary Poppins' famous magic word. "Mad Madame Mim" gives the evil witch her own expository melody while the title song, the most period appropriate of their efforts, might have been outfitted with additional sets of lyrics to comment on the story throughout the film and add a touch of dignity to the often lowbrow proceedings, especially the jokes about Bermuda shorts, films, and television.
As Disney did with ‘PETER PAN,' an American actor, in this case Rickie Sorensen, has been cast to voice one of the most famous English characters extant, and it seems a dubious choice. He acts the role of the inexperienced, gangly lad Wart/Arthur just fine, but his vocal presence seems anachronistic in a Dark Ages-set story. Karl Swenson plays his absent-minded professor-like Merlin with the proper befuddlement, and Junius Matthews as the starchily efficient owl Archimedes makes a perfect polar opposite companion. Martha Wentworth has loads of fun as the cackling witch Mim while Sebastian Cabot and Norman Alden are just right as the thoughtless foster father and brother who treat Wart with uncommon indignity.
Arthur doesn't even become King until the end of the film when he eventually pulls the sword out of the stone, and then the movie just kind of ends. It's an all-around strangely-structured film that's structured around these whimsical set pieces of Arthur becoming a fish, then a squirrel and then a bird. He runs into trouble here and there, mostly from Mad Madam Mim, and a broken-hearted lady squirrel, which guts me every time I see the film, but it's just some light-hearted fun in the grand scheme of things. That's not entirely a bad thing though. I still enjoy the film, even though I can see its flaws a little more clearly now than I did when I was a child, but I still think it's a worthy animated film, and one that today's children should enjoy just as much as we did.
Blu-ray Video Quality – The film is being presented in a 1.75:1 transfer at 1080p resolution. Sharpness is not always consistent throughout; occasionally in long shots the sharpness becomes momentarily soft and there also seems to be some motions blur which may or may not be related to Disney's digital tampering which is part of their customary treatment of their animated features on Blu-ray. Colour is nicely under control and is rich enough without any fear of blooming, though some orange/salmon backgrounds come close. There is a slight bit of banding to be seen, but it's never overpowering, and the line structures of the animation show no evidence of aliasing but do display a lack of fine detail due to the digital manipulations of the transfer.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio sound mix is quite definitely front centric with very little going on in the rear channels. Dialogue has been expertly recorded and resides in the centre channel. The music and sound effects never obfuscate the dialogue but are mixed skilfully to complement the animation. There is very little bass in this sound mix.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Special Feature: Never-Before-Seen Alternate Opening [1080p] [4:00] From Disney's vault comes a never-before-seen alternate opening in black-and-white storyboard form. It's a different take on how Wart meets Merlin.
Special Feature: Music Magic: The Sherman Brothers  [480i] [8:00] The famed brothers Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman composer duo talk briefly about their careers and the memorable music they produced for Disney.
Special Feature: All About Magic [Excerpt] [480i] [7:00] A fun little piece from a Walt Disney hosted television show called 'All About Magic.'
Special Feature: Disney Sing-Along With The Movie [1980p] A sing-a-long feature created for the show's music.
Special Feature: Classic Animated Shorts [480i] [16:00] There are two great Disney shorts included here. One is a Goofy short called 'A Knight for a Day.' This is a 1946 Disney short film starring Goofy. Directed by Jack Hannah, this 7-minute animated comedy short was written Bill Peet. The other animation short is for one of my favourite Disney shorts of all time, Mickey's 'Brave Little Tailor.' This is a 1938 American animated short film produced by Walt Disney Productions and released by RKO Radio Pictures. The cartoon is an adaptation of the fairy tale "The Valiant Little Tailor" with Mickey Mouse in the title role. The film was directed by Bill Roberts and features original music by Albert Hay Malotte. The voice cast includes Walt Disney as Mickey, Marcellite Garner as Minnie, and Eddie Holden as the king. `Brave Little Tailor' was nominated for the Academy Award® for Best Animated Short Film at the 11th Academy Awards in 1939, but lost to Disney's own `Ferdinand the Bull.' In 1994 the film was chosen as the 26th greatest cartoon of all time by members of the animation field. The list was compiled in the book The 50 Greatest Cartoons.
Finally, `The Sword in the Stone' is a perfectly pleasant but sadly unremarkable animated effort from the Walt Disney Studios. The Blu-ray offers a picture which will please some but definitely annoy purists of Disney animation and with sound that's quite above average. The disc also ports over the unremarkable extras from the previous DVD release, but this is definitely at best a second tier Disney animation effort. But despite this, I am still glad I have added it to my Walt Disney Blu-ray Collection as you still get a magical adventure and with several repeat viewing, you get see other aspect of all what happens in the animation film and I will never be so negative about `The Sword In The Stone' as I love it and will give me endless hours of viewing pleasure. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom
on 31 October 2013
I really do think this is one of Walt Disney forgotten pieces of Art. The Sword in the Stone is an all time classic. It's defiantly the best interpretation of King Arthur and the Round tables that I've ever seen, in fact looking back, I'm not sure I even realized that's what it was about, because I got so caught up in the magic of Merlin and Wart. I have probably seen this film thousands of times, so many times, I actually had to go and buy another DVD, because it had just been played so many times. My brother who shows no interest in Disney at all, even asked to borrow it one night, as he remembered it from his childhood. The characters are fantastic and really funny, each one so different yet really entertaining all the same. Brilliant animation. I'm so happy to have this in my collection, I'll defiantly be passing this one down to my children one day. It's a must see, lovely to watch at Christmas too.