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The Sword in the Stone
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.75:1 Widescreen
  • English Dolby Surround
  • English DTS-HD 5.1 Surround
  • French DTS-HD 5.1 Surround
  • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Russian Dolby Surround
  • Portuguese Dolby Surround
  • English subtitles
  • French subtitles
  • Spanish subtitles
  • Russian subtitles
  • Portuguese subtitles
  • 2 Discs
FEATURES
  • New Alternative Opening: Where Wart Meets Merlin
  • Music and Magic: The Sherman Brothers
  • Sing-along with The Movie
  • All About Magic (excerpt)
  • Short: A Knight for a Day
  • Short: Brave Little Tailor
  • Digital Copy

The Sword in the Stone

Dual-Format Edition
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Wolfgang Reitherman
1963 | 79 Minutes

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $36.99 | Series: Disney
Buena Vista Home Entertainment

Release Date: August 6, 2013
Review Date: July 28, 2013

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amazon.com  amazon.ca

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SYNOPSIS

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!


PICTURE

Disneyís The Sword in the Stone makes its Blu-ray debut with a 1080p/24hz high-definition transfer, presenting the film in its original aspect ratio of 1.75:1 on a dual-layer disc.

I havenít seen the film since VHS, missing the DVD release, so I canít speak as to how this compares to the original DVD edition. Looking at it, though, I do somewhat suspect that weíre simply getting the high-def version of that transfer.

As it stands the presentation is nice but thatís about it. Disney has yet again scrubbed away all film grain to create as clean an image as possible. As Iíve stated before I donít object to this for their animated features as long as it doesnít irrevocably harm the image. Here there is an ever-so-slight softness to the image, where the drawn lines do not look cleanly defined, blurring on the edges, with some of the ďlong shotsĒ lacking a few details one would expect to be there (a face can become blurry for example.) But backgrounds still look to have their details, and you can also make out the rough drawing lines that seemed to be the stylistic choice of Disney films during this period. There isnít a flaw to speak of in the print so Disney has given the source elements an extensive restoration (and wiped a lot away digitally I'm sure,) and the colours in the film are about as bright as expected (the film has a darker look) and perfectly saturated.

Itís fine, and I canít really say anything truly bad about it, but on the other end thereís no reason for me to really sing its praises. Itís a generally good transfer of a 50-year old animated feature but the reality is the image could look sharper.

7/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

Disney includes a remastered DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround track, as well as a Dolby Digital 2.0 surround track. I stuck with the 5.1 track.

Sound quality is lively and robust with fantastic fidelity and range. But when you get down to it itís really a mono track at heart, stereo at best. The surrounds get very little to do, handling some music and a few sound effects. I recall most of the audio sticking simply to the fronts and never doing anything truly creative.

Quality wise itís great, but doesnít really do much in terms of its mix.

7/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Iím used to Disney loading their releases with supplements but this one is pretty bare, and the fact this is a dual-layer disc is unnecessary Iím sure.

The first supplement is new to this release, an alternate opening where Wart meets Merlin. I actually wish there was more info on this because this alternate opening suggests an entirely different picture. The original storyline seems to have made the witch Madam Mim (who only appears briefly during the climax of the film) had more of an integral part. As it turns out ďWartĒ is clearly defined as the missing heir to the phone and Mim and a Black Knight decide to search for him. The alternate opening has Mimís raven chasing Wart around through the woods, where he is saved by Merlin. This then leads to a different sequence in his house. The opening is recreated from what I assume are original storyboards, animated and provided with voice over. As Iíve learned most of Disneyís films go through drastic changes during development of the story and Iím a little disappointed there wasnít more on this here as it sounds the story originally took a fairly different path.

The remaining features appear to come from the DVD since they look to be all upscales of standard-definition content. The first item is Music Magic: The Sherman Brothers, which features interviews with Robert and Richard Sherman. This unfortunately dry feature, where the brothers kind of talk over one another, has the two talk about their work on the filmís music, specifically the nonsense words that appear in the songs in some cases (apparently because they wanted to give the music a ďBritish sounding magic.Ē) They then go over songs that didnít appear in the film. The feature runs 8-minutes.

We then get content from the archives excerpts from a 1963 Disney television episode of All About Magic, which features Disney himself visiting the ďMagic Property RoomĒ where Disney then shows some magical items (basically just cheap parlour tricks.) Itís a bit of a surreal segment, especially a bizarre moment where he shows a decapitated princess that comes to life. It can be a bit painful but a fascinating document none-the-less. It runs over 7-minutes.

We then get two short cartoons, first a 7-minute Goofy cartoon called Knight For a Day (which is one of those Goofy ďeducationalĒ shorts covering sports,) followed by the 9-minute Mickey Mouse cartoon The Brave Little Tailor (where Mickey is mistakenly identified as a Giant killer and ends up facing off with one.) Though they have not been restored at all I like it when Disney digs up the classic cartoon shorts and hope they keep doing this with their releases.

We then get an option to sing along with the movie, which is nothing but subtitles playing during the musical segments, followed by Info on the disc. Thereís also a code for the digital copy of the film.

And thatís it. Shockingly thereís very little, though most of it proves to be interesting.

4/10

CLOSING

The supplements are almost non-existent (at least we get a couple of classic shorts) and the transfer is adequate if nothing else. It comes with a recommendation for fans of the film, but really only if they can get it on sale.




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