The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh Blu-ray/DVD/Digital
Directed by John Lounsbery and Wolfgang Reitherman
Starring Sterling Holloway, Paul Winchell, John Fiedler, Junius Matthews, Ralph Wright, Hal Smith, Barbara Luddy and Sebastian Cabot
Walt Disney Home Entertainment
Release Date: August 27, 2013
Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and friends stroll through the Hundred Acre Wood to a high-definition world, as The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh debuts on Blu-ray for nostalgic viewers and eager young ones, too.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh features a compilation of three featurettes strewn together by live-action scenes set in a live-action version of Christopher Robin’s bedroom.
Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree, first released in 1966, follows Pooh’s never-ending quest for his favorite food that he seeks to put down into his “tumbly.” The search for something sweet leads him down a most dangerous path up a honey tree. The infectious, quaint humor found in Pooh’s obsession with the sticky substance still resonates all these decades later. Funny is funny, and though Honey Tree need not rely on over-the-top gags or sharp pop culture references, it is as delightful as anything ever created in a Disney animated film.
The Sword in the Stone 3-Disc Blu-ray/DVD/Digital l DVD/Digital
Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman
Starring Karl Swenson, Martha Wentworth, Junius Matthews, Sebastian Cabot, Rickie Sorenson, Richard Reitherman, Robert Reitherman
Walt Disney Home Entertainment
Release Date: August 6, 2013
Wart, the protagonist of The Sword in the Stone, pulls out a shining treasure for his kingdom, but unfortunately Disney isn’t extracting anything extraordinary from the vault in releasing this 1963 feature on Blu-ray.
Bring in the storybook opening with a narrative song. England lay in the midst of the Dark Ages, as no individual has been able to pull the title sword from the stone. Who will reverse the curse? Merlin, the blue-caped wizard with a Santa Claus-like beard, has someone in mind. Cue pre-teen Wart, otherwise known as Arthur, a moppet who literally falls into Merlin’s cottage as he searches for an arrow in the forest. The ancient force soon enlists Wart in magical tutoring sessions that encompass much of the movie.
Robin Hood finally shoots its way onto Blu-ray, but sadly the titular character does not steal the screen in the best way. It’s no Disney classic, at least for those of us who did not grow up with Maid Marian and friends, but the 1973 movie deserves a viewing if you go into it with reasonable expectations.
Fair warning. I did not have any sentimental feelings in watching Robin Hood, namely because I did not watch this film repeatedly during childhood. Thus I found it harder to connect with the oddball assortment of characters and collection of ideas that somehow never seem cohesive. The personalities are cute. The forceful underdog story moves even the most cynical. The humor recalls the tongue-in-cheek intelligence found in many of Disney’s finest. Yet Robin Hood appears to try too hard in representing something remarkable when at its core the film is straightforward minimalism.