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The Sword In The Stone
45h Anniversary Edition

review by Zach B.



MPAA Rating: 

Running Time: 79 Minutes

Starring the voices of: Sebastian Cabot, Karl Swenson, Rickie Sorensen, Junius Matthews, Ginny Tyler, Martha Wentwroth, Norman Alden, Alan Napier, Richard Reitherman, Robert Reitherman

Story by: Bill Peet
Based on the book by: T.H. White

Directed by: Wolfgang Reitherman


Studio: Disney

Retail Price: $29.99

Features: Music Magic: The Sherman Brothers, Song Selection, Merlin's Magical Academy, "All About Magic" Excerpt, Scrapbook, Film Facts, Bonus Shorts

Specs: 1.33:1 Full Screen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English DTS 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selection (16 Scenes)

Released: June 17th, 2008



"The Sword In The Stone" is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 full screen, and the transfer is pretty good (especially given its age). The animation, thankfully, looks remarkably rich still - with bold colors and very fine detail. The print used is also very clean with not much in the way of dirt and specks (some do pop up here and there, though), and grain is kept to a minimum. Edge halos are apparent and is noise, but my biggest gripe with the transfer is the shimmering: there is a fair amount of it, and it can be pretty distracting. The transfer is also a little on the soft side, but that may have to do with the age. Despite its flaws, "The Sword In The Stone" still makes a pretty strong showing in this new DVD edition. 

Who knows why, but Disney has failed to include the original mono track of the movie. Instead, we get an English Dolby Digital 5.1 mix... which sounds like the mono track stretched out across the channels, with a few enhanced effects. It's not terrible, but certainly the purists would have liked the mono option. The dialogue is clear and firm in the center channel, while the musical score and songs are spread through the speakers - sometimes more thinly than others, but it ultimately doesn't make too much of an impression. Sound effects also come in clearly, but I couldn't help but feel that some surrounds were spruced up with modern technologies, and thus sounding a little artificial. Dynamic range and subwoofer use are pretty limited, but fidelity is pretty high. It's an adequate 5.1 mix in all.

Also included are Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in French and Spanish, English closed captions, and subtitles in English, French and Spanish.

Disney has packed in a few supplements for the 45th anniversary edition of the movie. In Music & More, other than the Song Selection feature, there's Music Magic: The Sherman Brothers. This eight minute piece takes a look at the legendary Disney songwriting duo. Interviewed are the actual brothers, who discuss their writing process: interestingly enough, the song is approached more through story and characters before any melodies or lyrics are written. The brothers perform some verses of songs from the movie, and discuss what inspired certain lyrics. The two also talk how this was their first Disney feature, and what they learned. Highlighting it all are clips from the movie, storyboards and photographs. Well done.

For younger viewers of this DVD is the game Merlin's Magical Academy. It's a typical set-top trivia game, but should be engaging enough for the movie's core audience.

In the Backstage Disney section, there are some nifty supplements. First up there is an excerpt from the classic Walt Disney Presents TV show, as Uncle Walt presents a segment entitled "All About Magic." Walt shows us some magic tricks, plus shows us a few magic props. Definitely a nice complement to the movie. Also in the section is a Scrapbook with concept art, and a few pages of Film Facts that are quite informative.

And rounding it all out are two Bonus Shorts, which also complement the movie: "A Knight For A Day" and "The Brave Little Tailor." Enjoy!

"The Sword In The Stone" is an animated classic, and for that alone the DVD is worth picking up. The supplements are decent enough for the family, and the transfer is pretty good when you take the movie's age into account. While it's unfortunate Disney did not include the original mono track, the 5.1 mix is serviceable. Recommended.