THE SWORD IN THE STONE: 45TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION
MOVIE: *** (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: ** (out of 5)
Sebastian Cabot as SIR ECTOR
Karl Swenson as MERLIN
Rickie Sorensen as ARTHUR
Junius Matthews as ARCHIMEDES
Directed by: Wolfgang Reitherman
BY KEVIN CARR
The funny thing about growing up is that you often remember things from your childhood as better than they really are. Case in point: Saturday morning cartoons.
Back when there were only four stations, I remember watching the slate of cartoons each weekend. One of my favorites was the Laff-a-Lympics, which brought all the characters of the Hanna-Barbera universe into a sports competition. Years later, I have seen this show on Boomerang and marvel at what a cheap piece of animation it was.
My memories of “The Sword in the Stone” are quite similar. I remember absolutely loving the film as a child. I can’t say I remember what the movie was about, but I was enthralled with it when I was about six or seven. I hadn’t seen it in years before I got the DVD for the 45th Anniversary Edition. Watching it at age 36 is a different experience.
The story follows a young boy named Wart who successfully pulls Excalibur from the famous stone where most knights have failed. Wart is to become the famous King Arthur, but this is him in his younger days as he’s trained by Merlin. I consider it to be the polar opposite to something like “The Lion King” which completely glosses over the hero’s adolescent years.
Part of the charm of “The Sword in the Stone” is the 1960s style of Disney animation that was both rough and beautiful. Using the new Xerox process, there’s a sketchy look to the art, and that gives the film the same warmth we see in “The Jungle Book,” “Robin Hood,” “101 Dalmatians” and the “Winnie the Pooh” shorts.
Sadly, in viewing the film as an adult, I lost a bit of the magic. The story isn’t as well-formed as other animation classics. And the most memorable sequence I remember was the magical dual between Merlin and Madame Mim. It’s still a cool dual, but it’s lost some of its potency against a backdrop of decades of Disney films.
Still, “The Sword in the Stone” is and always shall be a classic. The new 45th anniversary DVD comes with a Merlin’s Magical Academy set-top game, bonus movie shorts, Disney song selection and a spotlight on the endearing Sherman Brothers, who gave us most of the unforgettable Disney songs of that era.