The time was that following the death of a good king,
Our story begins in this
It’s been 45 years since The Sword In The Stone was first released. I was amazed at just how little I had remembered from my earlier encounters with the film. To me the most memorable part was the wizard’s duel between Merlin and the sinister Mim. This was not one of Disney’s best collection of songs, but a few stand out. The wizard’s incantation is memorable, as is his setting the dishes to wash themselves. The scene is reminiscent of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice piece from Fantasia. While the music might not have been the greatest, the animation certainly was. There are some remarkably stunning moments in the film. The most notable of these is the rain storm early in the movie that incorporated some live action rain into the animation. The trick was seamless and likely to go unnoticed by most fans of the film. Walt was hands on for this film, and it shows in the attention to detail it exhibits.
There aren’t quite the number of characters in this film that usually populate a Disney outing. The few there are are all rather nicely done. Merlin was voiced flawlessly by Karl Swenson. His clever articulation of the made up Latin words is priceless. While Rickie Sorensen is only fair as Arthur, the best performance is hands down the narration by Sebastian Cabot. As he did with The Many Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh, Cabot provides a narration that is instantly wise and equally warm. You might also recognize the voice of Alan Napier as Sir Pelinore. Yes, that’s Alfred himself from the Adam West Batman series. Together these elements provide an experience that doesn’t seem to exist any longer in children’s animation films.
For some reason The Sword In The Stone is presented in a full frame format. The film was originally released in 1.75:1. It seems strange that an anniversary edition of the film would not be presented in the correct aspect ratio. There is some evidence of restoration, but sadly not enough. There are a lot of dust specks throughout the film. The color is solid, but there are moments when it appears to waver. I know the film is 45 years old, but I have seen Disney pull off some wonderful restoration in the past. For some reason or another, this film does not appear to warrant the royal treatment. Blues particularly play out well. There are also some nice pinks and yellows from time to time, and contrast allows for a fairly sharp presentation. Black levels are only fair. This film deserves a far better restoration that, hopefully, will come in Blu-ray someday.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is unremarkable. Again very little has been done to improve sound quality. The surround mix is really nothing more than a spread out mono translation. There is very little instance of rear speaker activity and no action from the sub woofer. There’s even some high end distortion in rare moments to remind you of just how old this film really is. Dialog’s clear and upfront, as are the songs.
Music And More: This sub menu contains links to a few more extras.
Music Magic – The
Disney Song Selection: Here you can check out the music clips from the film along with an option to allow you to display the song lyrics as you watch the film.
All About Magic: This excerpt from Walt Disney Presents television is hosted by Uncle Walt. He shows us a few magic tricks.
Animated Shorts: Here you get the 7 minute shorts Knight For A Day featuring Goofy and Brave Little Tailor starring Mickey Mouse himself.
Certainly this film is a footnote in the tales of King Arthur and is less about the mythical king and more about magic and wizardry. For a kid that was just fine with us. Heck, we don’t even have him using his real name until the end of the picture. All of the trademark Disney elements are there: the underdog coming out on top, plenty of music, wonderful animation, and plenty of heart. It’s the perfect storm of children’s entertainment. “That’s what I c