Bedknobs and Broomsticks
You will believe a brass bed can fly.
Special effects have come a long way since Bedknobs & Broomsticks won an Academy Award for Best Effects, Special Visual Effects in 1971. Now the film is releasing on DVD again, this time as the restored and remastered Bedknobs & Broomsticks: Enchanted Musical Edition. (The first DVD release in 2001 was titled the 30th Anniversary Edition.)
The film features the musical talents of a young Angela Lansbury who plays an aspiring witch. She is completing her training through a correspondence course offered by Dr. Emelius Browne (David Tomlinson). But the spinster has her studies interrupted when she is asked to house three siblings who have been evacuated from London in order to avoid the air raids of World War II.
On their first night with the reluctant hostess, Carrie (Cindy O’Callaghan), Charlie (Ian Weighill) and Paul (Roy Snart) catch sight of Miss Eglantine Price trying out her new broom. Threatening to reveal her secret to the locals, they force her to give them a special spell in exchange for their silence. The incantation she shares turns an ordinary bed knob into a magical device that allows their four-poster bed to fly anywhere in the world.
When Dr. Browne cancels the correspondence course before Miss Price receives her last lesson, she and the children use the magical bed to fly off to the big city and hunt down the professor. However, it doesn’t take long for them to discover Dr. Browne is more of a conman than an academic in the realm of magic.
Compared to today’s fast-paced kids’ films, Bedknobs & Broomsticks: Enchanted Musical Edition seems to lumber along at times as Miss Price practices her trade by turning disobedient children and unkind adults into fuzzy white rabbits. But midway through the movie, the characters take a trip to the animated island of Naboombu in search of the missing words to a charm. On the isle, where animals rule, Dr. Browne is roped into umpiring a ruthless football match between the inhabitants. The film’s action ramps up further when a group of Nazi park their submarine off the coast of the small English village where Miss Price lives. They commandeer the single woman’s home and set up their headquarters after locking Eglantine and the children in a dusty old museum. Using her newest incantation, the substitutiary locomotion spell, the apprentice witch attempts to bring the old relics in the museum to life and drive the Germans back to their U-Boat.
While the sorcery is used for positive reasons in this film, some parents may still want to consider the depictions of witchcraft and war before showing this classic to their younger children. Yet for audiences who understand the fanciful nature of this whimsical adventure, Bedknobs & Broomsticks: Enchanted Musical Edition conjures up plenty of magical fun for a new generation of viewers.