Rating : ****
From all the way back in 1971 a film that went on to make me sing through my childhood and believe in magic. Starring Angela Lansbury as Apprentice witch Miss Eglantine Price, David Tomlinson as Mr Emelius Browne, a con artist who sent Miss Price her magic spells and Ian Weighill (Charles), Cindy O’Callaghan (Carrie) and Roy Snart (Paul) three refugees that come to live with Miss Price.
As a child it brought magic to life sharing the same magical air as the earlier Mary Poppins film.
Our first film review for our new Retro Thursday’s is the bewitching Bedknobs and Broomsticks.
Like most Disney films personally I feel like the movie has aged well. You can watch it and nothing looks outdated or terrible and the songs still hit at the heartstrings. It was old when I was a kid and I loved it when I first saw it and brought it on DVD to watch whenever I felt blue when I was a adult and its a film that I truly think should sit on most people’s DVD shelves at home no matter your age.
Set in World War Two we follow the apprentice Witch Miss Price as she goes on a adventure with the three refugee children Charles, Carrie and Paul to find Mr Browne and the most important spell that of Substituitary Locomotion, a spell she wants to master to help with the war effort.
The story moves from a small village in Dorset to the streets of Portobello Road then to the animated world of Naboombu with King Leonidas the lion and his rather violent game of football. The story is accented with a whole load of upbeat songs from The Old Home Guard and The Age of Not Believing to Portobello Road and The Beauitful Briny.
Like Mary Poppins it does a great job of bringing a small cast into a animated story and regardless of whether or not it looks as good as what they might be able to achieve now with CGI and the such it doesn’t look terrible. In fact it looks extremely well done and doesn’t jar even in a world full of unbelievable things being made to look believable.
The characters are all great fun and larger then life without ever being over the top and unbelievable. It has a wonderful cast and is probably one of the only things in my life that I can remember seeing a young Bruce Forsyth in.
So what do I like about the movie?
Simply the same reasons I like most Disney movies of this period. It puts a lot of things into one. It makes you want to believe in magic, the song The Age of Not Believing makes you remember a time when you COULD believe just about anything. As a kid it made you never want to give up being able to believe and as a adult it reminds you to stop thinking logically every now and again and just let yourself enjoy life. Then it has the very serious reminder of the war with the Home Guard, reminding you that it wasn’t just the English that fought the war and that at the time many MANY different people came together to fight a common enemy. It showed the life of refugee’s who had to be removed from their homes because it was unsafe and how they coped with having to move. It reminded you of good old fashioned attitudes like getting on with it and everyone doing their bit. No one was moaning and complaining about the life they had been delt they were trying to make the best of what they had been given. There was a love story with Miss Price and Mr Browne without ever being more then two people just falling in love. There was a story of how you could make a family out of anything as long as you opened your heart to it. There is so much jammed into one film that you could go on talking about different themes and plot points till you are blue in the face but they don’t actually bore you to death with them in the film, the film is a family adventure film that purely explores these topics whilst entertaining the whole family.
But the most amazing thing of all is just the songs.
I love Disney even to today but a lot of the time the songs just don’t feel the same. Even the sadder songs in the film are uplifting and fun. Yes everyone sang along to Let it Go but it was just a pop song inserted into the movie these are real get stuck in your head songs that you will be humming for days after you’ve seen it. They are songs that will really last with you for the whole of your life (I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve suddenly just starting either humming or singing bobbing along on the bottom of the beautiful briny sea for no reason whatsoever, not something I’ve done to a song in any of the recent Disney films.)
For the purpose of the blog obviously I had to watch the film once more and honestly it was just as good as any film I’ve seen in the cinema in the last few years, it was fun and intelligent never looking down on its audience and always trying to make you feel positive and happy.
You’ll never be able to watch the film and feel down. It is extremely uplifting and positive and shows the best side of humanity in a dark part of our history.
It might feel overdone now but to be honest we’ve ended up in a period of time where all films and TV shows love to show the darkness of the world. Even when we’re celebrating the best of our history it always has to be “dark” and “gritty” whatever that means. Back then it was all positive and happy.
A film that really stands the test of time.