Bedknobs and Broomsticks appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.66:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. This was a flawed but acceptable presentation.
Sharpness varied. Much of the film showed pretty good delineation, but more than a few shots came across as a bit soft. Those weren’t extreme examples, though, and the majority of the flick looked positive. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering appeared, and edge enhancement was minor.
Source flaws were a somewhat different issue, partially due to all of the film’s effects work. Bedknobs required a lot of compositing, so expect heavy grain. However, I couldn’t solely blame the effects, as even non-effects shots often suffered from heavier than usual levels of grain. That made this a murky presentation at times. I also noticed mild to moderate instances of specks and marks. Again, these tended to mostly affect effects shots, but they popped up sporadically in non-effects elements as well.
Due to the graininess of the image, colors tended to be erratic. At times, they demonstrated good vivacity, but all that grain usually meant that they were somewhat muddled. Blacks were reasonably dark and deep, while shadows came across as acceptable at best. Once more, the grain created concerns, as low-light shots tended to seem a bit flat and messy. Overall, the image was satisfactory, especially given all of the presentation’s potential pitfalls, but it wasn’t a great-looking film.
I felt a little happier with the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Bedknobs. The soundfield presented a modest environment, but it seemed fine for a film of this vintage. Mainly it was music that benefited from the multi-channel treatment, and the songs and score indeed offered decent stereo separation. The music also was slightly bolstered by the surround speakers. Otherwise, I heard some modest side and rear channel spread to the effects - most of which occurred during the soccer sequence - but most of these elements stayed anchored in the center.
Audio quality seemed typical for the period but presented no serious problems. Actually, dialogue displayed the biggest concerns, mostly due to the restored material. A number of speech stems apparently became lost, so these lines were dubbed for the film’s 25th anniversary. Some of the original participants - like Angela Lansbury and Roddy McDowall - did their own parts, but different actors performed others. Most notable among these was the substitution for David Tomlinson. All of the dubbed lines were easily noticeable, but Tomlinson’s were the worst, for the replacement actor sounded very little like him. I understand the need for newly recorded speech to restore the movie to its original length, but I think they could have better cast the parts.
Otherwise, speech appeared a bit thin and flat, but dialogue was consistently clear and intelligible, even in the face of the various accents. Effects were also somewhat dull and they generally lacked dynamic range; I heard a little rumble during the soccer game, but that was an exception. Nonetheless, the effects came across as acceptably clean and accurate for the era. Music seemed a bit brighter and more engaging, though the songs and score also failed to transmit much depth. In the end, the quality of the audio was average for its period, but the musical soundfield brought up my grade to a “B-”.
How did the picture and audio of this 2009 “Enchanted Musical Edition” of Bedknobs compare to those of the original DVD? Unfortunately, I don’t own the old disc and I couldn’t find a copy to rent, so I was unable to directly contrast the two releases.
If you look at my review for the prior disc, you’ll find higher grades and more praise. Don’t take that to mean the 2000 DVD is superior to the 2009 release. In fact, I’d bet that both offer virtually identical visuals and audio but changes in my home theater set-up and my viewing standards have changed over that span. It’s a disappointment that the quality of the 2009 DVD doesn’t seem to improve on its predecessor, though.
This “Enchanted Musical Edition” of Bedknobs and Broomsticks mixes old and new extras. First up is Music Magic: The Sherman Brothers, a featurette that apparently ran on the Disney Channel. This 11-minute and 27-second program mainly chats with the Shermans as they discuss their music for the film, with a primary focus on songs cut from the original release. In addition, we learn more about the production from Angela Lansbury, and the piece also offers a nice mix of production art and behind the scenes footage. It’s a solid little piece that included some good information about the movie.
One fun snippet appears in the guise of a David Tomlinson Recording Session. This 70-second clip shows Tomlinson as he croons a few bars of “Portobello Road” with the guidance of arranger/conductor Irwin Kostal. It’s a neat look at this element, though unfortunately the original audio doesn’t survive. Instead, the finished track is played over the piece, so we can’t hear the short discussion between Kostal and Richard Sherman at the end. Still, it’s a cool addition to the disc.
”A Step In the Right Direction” Reconstruction attempts to rebuild a deleted scene from the film. The audio for the song “Step” still exists, but only still photos of the production remain. As such, this three minute and 45 second piece plays the tune on top of these snapshots. The song did little for me, but I was happy to see the inclusion of this effort.
For something new, we shift to The Wizards of Special Effects. Hosted by Disney Channel actor Jennifer Stone, the eight-minute and seven-second show features comments from Disney historian Les Perkins, visual effects historian Greg Kimble, and visual effects supervisor John Allison. They tell us a little about the effects of Bedknobs and compare them to more modern techniques. We get a smidgen of good info here, but the program usually feels more like a promo for Stone’s series.
We get four theatrical trailers for Bedknobs, the first three of which seem to have accompanied the movie’s initial release in 1971. While the fourth doesn’t mention a reissue, I have the feeling it does come from a later re-release, especially since it plays off of the famous “you’ll believe a man can fly” tagline of 1978’s Superman.
Dylan and Cole Sprouse: Blu-Ray Is Suite! runs four minutes, 45 seconds. Here the Disney channel stars and their TV mom Kim Rhodes do their best to sell us on Blu-Ray. Yes, it’s just an ad – and a really tacky one at that.
A few ads open the DVD. We get clips for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Princess and the Frog, and SantaBuddies. These also appear in the Sneak Peeks area along with promos for Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure, Blu-ray, Like Stars on Earth, Up, D23 and Disney Movie Rewards.
Does the 2009 DVD lose anything from the prior disc? Yup. It drops two vintage cartoons, “Film Facts” text production notes, and some still galleries. Also, it appears the this disc includes a shorter version of “Music Magic”. It’s too bad the 2009 DVD drops so many components from its predecessor, especially since it only adds one new featurette.
Despite my less-than-enthusiastic general opinion of Disney’s live-action films, I found Bedknobs and Broomsticks to provide an entertaining experience. The movie featured a muddled but fun narrative plus some positive performances to create an enjoyable movie. The DVD offers acceptable picture and audio plus a smattering of often minor extras.
This is an entertaining flick but the DVD disappoints, especially for fans who already own the original release. The 2009 version doesn’t appear to provide improved picture and audio, and it changes supplements in a negative way; we get one minor new featurette but lose other components. If you don’t already own Bedknobs on DVD, grab this one, but it’s not worth a double dip.