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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Fantasy > Literature > Legend > The Sword in the Stone – 45th Anniversary Edition (Disney DVD)

The Sword in the Stone – 45th Anniversary Edition (Disney DVD)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C     Film: A-



I’ll take S-words for 500 Alex!  Senseless?  Second-rate?  OH, I know!  Special Editions!  The fact of the matter is that Disney continues to pump out countless special editions that do not harbor the quality that we as fans expect from such a powerful media and entertainment mogul.  The Sword in the Stone – 45th Anniversary Edition is no different than any of the other uninspiring special editions that have been released from the company in recent times and sadly is not very much of an upgrade from the past Gold Collection release either.  The 45th Anniversary release seems to be just another unneeded double-dip that fans will surely find bland and unnecessary.


The Sword in the Stone is a Disney retelling of the Arthurian Legend that was popular with the general public, but was never looked at as a Disney masterpiece by the critics of the day.  The 1963 light hearted and magic filled animated comedy centers on the unlikely hero named Wart, who would one day be the king known as Arthur.  The Sword in the Stone follows Arthur from his childhood when he was taught by the wacky and bumbling wizard Merlin through the point of him becoming king.  At the center of England there sits a sword in a stone, for which any who person who is able to pull the sword from stone would be the rightful ruler of all the lands of England.  Unfortunately, no one could pull the bloody sword out and the lands remained darkened in a time of chaos without order.  Merlin knew from the very beginning that Arthur was special boy and dedicated his time to training the boy in areas of magic, transformation, and science.  Even after being bossed around by his stepfather and brother Wart (AKA – Arthur) remains humble and for the most part subservient.  But on the day that a new king of England is to be named, a magical and life changing event occurs for Wart…something that will change his life and all those around him…forever.  It is the stuff that legends are made of.


To make a long legend short, this reviewer loves The Sword in the Stone.  The film is a Disney classic with all the archetypal elements that make the tale a classic.  There are great songs, wonderfully inspiring animation, an overflowing amount of comedy; it has everything any fan of Disney could want.  The Disney magic truly shines through on this film.


The technical features on this 45th Anniversary release are far from magical and could potentially turn even the biggest Disney fan’s heart to stone.  Disappointingly both the picture and sound quality have not changed since the Gold Collection release in 2001, leaving this reviewer legendarily miffed.  The picture is once again presented in a 1.33 X 1 full screen that is far from the way it should appear in its original 1.75 X 1 aspect ratio.  The colors are not horrible but are off, appearing dull much of the time and lean a little too heavily on the gray scale; all in all being far from the films intended 3 strip Technicolor presentation and lacking a truly needed crispness.  The sound is once again presented as a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround that fails to use all of the speakers and lacks a certain degree of clarity and preciseness.


The extras, as on many Disney special editions, are intended for a younger audience and for the most part are just a rehash of the Gold Collection extras.  This reviewer found the extras such as the Merlin’s Magic Academy Game (only new feature), Disney Song Selection, Film Facts, Trailers, and the Scrapbook (some production art) to all be quite drab and boring.  The few unrestored shorts (Knight for a Day starring Goofy and Brave Little Tailor starring Mickey Mouse) were nice as old Disney shorts are, an excerpt from a 1957 Walt Disney show that has him playing around with magic props entitled All About Magic (which was previously viewable in full in the Gold Collection), and finally a lackluster look at the men behind The Sword in the Stone’s music with a featurette about the Sherman Brothers.  The extras are SOMEWHAT better than other special editions, but still in no way impressed this reviewer.


Learn how legends are made and watch this film…but you don’t have to necessarily buy this new release.



-   Michael P. Dougherty II


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