Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Bedknobs & Broomsticks: Disney Movie Review

Having just read the stories by Mary Norton that were the basis for Disney's Bedknobs and Broomsticks starring Angela Lansbury and David Tomlinson, I decided I just had to sit down and watch the film again. I hadn't watched it since my son was small (many moons ago). I mentioned in my review of the book how much I enjoyed the way the movie brings the World War II themes to the forefront. In fact, they become central to the plot.

Carrie, Charlie, and Paul have been evacuate (along with dozens of other children) because of the blitz in London. All of the other children have been sent home with village families, but the Rawlings have been billeted with Miss Eglantine Price, a reclusive single woman with some rather odd habits and even odder ideas of what makes up a good meal. 

Miss Price is not entirely pleased to be saddled with a trio of children. As she points out to the woman who has assigned homes to the children, "Children and I don't get on." Which seems entirely true--she doesn't know what to do with them and they are not keen on her supper which consists primarily of herbs, plants, and vegetables. Where are the bangers and mash? How about toad in the hole? Bubble and squeak? 

She finally gets them tucked up safely in bed and rushes out to her workroom to open her latest package from the Correspondence College of Witchcraft. It contains her very first broom and she can't wait to try it out. Unfortunately, Miss Price is not too steady as a pilot and the children witness her crash landing. Charlie, street-wise urchin that he is, decides to make the most of the situation. Vowing to keep quiet about her witchcraft if Miss Price promises to make some changes (primarily to the menu!). After a brief stint as a rabbit ("I never could manage toads"), Charlie and Miss Price strike an uneasy bargain with the children promising silence in exchange for a magic item. Result--the magic bed-knob and the traveling bed.

Miss Price finally confides in the children the real reason that she has been studying witchcraft--she is waiting for the final lesson which will contain a spell which she hopes will help her with the war effort. When she receives a disappointing letter from Professor Emelius Brown saying that the College will be closed before the last lesson can be sent, she and the children use the bed to go in search of the Professor. Their travels will take them from the countryside to London and down under the sea and up to the mythical island of Naboombu--all in pursuit of the spell that may save England from invaders.

This is a fun movie--like Disney's Mary Poppins, it is a mixture of live action and animation and provides lots of entertainment. My favorite part is the final moments when Miss Price uses her new spell to send the Nazis running from England's shore. A nice trip back down memory lane...to when I watch Disney movies with my son.

...Speaking of my son--he just wandered through and noticed the VHS case (yes--it's been 'round the house that long) and commented, "Someone's been watching Bedknobs & Broomsticks." I told him that I'd read the book and just had to watch the movie again and he asked if the book was as good.  I knew immediately what he wanted to know (it's his favorite part too) and explained that the war effort was not as prominent in the book.  "You mean she doesn't cast spells on ancient armor?" No. No, she doesn't. He has no interest in the book now.  I told him that the book was good. Just different. But I have to admit...I miss the animated armor in the book myself.


1 comment:

Man of la Book said...

I liked that movie also, from some reason it never got the provenance of other Disney classics.