In World War II torn England, Miss Eglantine Price (Angela Lansbury) has her own way of helping with the war effort. She is secretly studying to be a witch at Professor Emelius Browne’s Correspondence College of Witchcraft. When she is forced by law to take in three siblings into her home, they discover her secret and blackmail her. In order to keep them quiet, Miss Price casts a spell on a brass bedknob from the guest bedroom, enabling it to become a vehicle to take them wherever they please.
Miss Price and the three children, Charlie, Carrie, and Paul, first set out to London to find Professor Browne after he abruptly closes his college. Miss Price was looking forward to the final spell in her program – the substitutiary locomotion spell that will make inanimate objects move on their own. Miss Price finds Professor Browne (David Tomlinson, the father in Mary Poppins) and learns that he was merely a con man taking spells out of an old book written by a real wizard named Asteroth. The children, Miss Price, and Mr. Browne set off on adventures to find the book, find the spell, and save England from the invading German army.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks, like so many other Disney films, seamlessly marries animation with live action. The animated world that the real life characters visit still seems magical; even after all the advancement in technology since the film was first released in 1971. And like so many other Disney films, Bedknobs and Broomsticks features original songs. Some of the best parts of the film are the musical sequences, such as the animated underwater “Beautiful Briny Sea”, the multicultural dance scene during “Portobello Road” and the “Substitutiary Locomotion” song.
The fun and whimsy of three children magically traveling on a bed with a witch in training and her would-be suitor is balanced by the undertones of World War II. The Home Guard, elderly veterans of World War I, is Miss Price’s only protection from the threatening Nazi invaders, and she is desperate to find a better way to protect her home. She spends the entire film searching for the spell that she thinks will help, and we have such a good time along the way that we forget why she’s so intent on finding it. It’s during the film’s spirited, humorous (and a little scary) climax, when we see her dreams realized and we understand why she was so passionate about her cause.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks, like Mary Poppins and Pete’s Dragon, is one of those family films that is still as meaningful and impressive as it was when it was first released. Since the 30th Anniversary Edition DVD has been discontinued, this Enchanted Musical Edition is the only available DVD release of the film. Unfortunately, though, Disney decided to release this edition with some archival footage that has never been seen before. This footage is integrated into the film, but at a very sub-standard quality. The voice dubbing is off, and the color is of very poor quality. This extra footage would have been better off as either a Deleted Scenes extra, or as a video option for viewing the film.
That small slight aside, Bedknobs and Broomsticks is just as magical as it’s ever been. This DVD will ensure a new generation of children trying out the substitutiary locomotion spell on their clothes, hopefully not falling into the age of not believing.
This DVD is presented in a 1.66:1 aspect ratio. The video, as stated before, is shotty in places, but the rest of the video quality is just average. The sound is remastered and sounds better than I ever remember. With the exception of the added footage, of course.
The Wizards of Special Effects – Hosted by Jennifer Stone from Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Place – This featurette teaches us about the sodium screen process, then compares it to the modern-day green screen. I learned something new! This was a very cool featurette. 8:08
Music Magic: The Sherman Brothers – This fascinating featurette is hosted by the Sherman brothers themselves, and they talk about each song individually. Did you know that “The Beautiful Briny Sea” was originally written for Mary Poppins? Did you know that the song “The Age of Not-Believing” was written after Walt’s death, and was about raising the spirits of the Disney employees after he passed? This is a must-watch featurette. 11:38
“A Step In The Right Direction” – Reconstruction – This is a song that was not in the original film, and the original video footage was somehow lost over the years. This takes the original audio and combines it with still photos taken during filming to create what the song would have looked like. 3:48
David Tomlinson Portabello Road Recording Session – This is just that, it shows the late actor recording his vocals for the song. I would have loved to see an old interview with him. 1:10
Dylan & Cole Sprouse – Blu-Ray is Suite! – This Blu-ray commercial has been featured on several recent Disney DVD releases.
Sneak Peeks – Like Stars On Earth, Up, Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure, Disney Blu-Ray, Disney Movie Rewards
Trailers – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Diamond Edition, The
Princess and the Frog, Santa Buddies
If the kids have been watching nothing but recent Disney releases, Bedknobs and Broomsticks is an easy way to begin introducing them to classic Disney. The film is not going to look the way you remembered it, and I still feel like the extra footage should have been included as an option. It’s fasinating to see it, but it’s so poorly restored that it takes away from the viewing experience. The lower rating for the extras is mainly for this. But otherwise, this new DVD release is a must own for any Disney fan, young or old.
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment presents Bedknobs and Broomsticks: Enchanted Musical Edition. Directed by: Robert Stevenson. Starring: Angela Lansbury, David Tomlinson. Written by: Ralph White, Ted Berman. Running time: 139 minutes. Rating: G. Released on DVD: September 8, 2009. Available at Amazon.com
Tags: Mary Poppins