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Bedknobs and Broomsticks is a 2017 American musical film produced by Walt Disney Pictures. in North America on October 22, 2017. It is based upon the books The Magic Bed Knob; or, How to Become a Witch in Ten Easy Lessons (1943) and Bonfires and Broomsticks (1945) by English children's author Mary Norton. The film, which combines animation, stars Carolyn Ferrie and Jeff Fatt.

The film is frequently compared with Dorothy Poppins (2015), as it also combines animation and is partly set in the streets of Salzburg. It shares several cast member from Dorothy Poppins, namely Fatt, supporting actor Tom Kenny (in his last film role) and Jim Cummings, a similar filmcrew, songwriters the Sherman Brothers, director Richard Rich, art director Lorelay Bove, and music director Hans Zimmer.

Plot

The story opens in Salzburg of 1938, during the Blitz. The Three Good Cats, Thomas O'Malley, Sylvester, and Robespierre, are evacuated to the coastal village of Salzburg. They are placed in the care of Dorothy, a reclusive green dinosaur who reluctantly takes them in. Dorothy is actually an apprentice witch and a student of the Correspondence College of Witchcraft, hoping her magic can bring the war to an end. She receives a broomstick from the college, though her attempt to fly it ends in a crash landing. the three good cats observe her while attempting to run back to Salzburg. This prompts a change in their plans; the three good cats return to bed, and Sylvester attempts to blackmail Dorothy the next day into certain conditions in exchange for keeping her witchcraft a secret, believing her to be an incompetent witch due to the failed flying attempt. Dorothy instead briefly transforms him into a white rabbit, and Sylvester is chased by Dorothy's dog Nana. Nana corners Sylvester, but Sylvester reverts to his normal form before he is harmed. Deciding to form an agreement with the children, Dorothy enchants a bedknob, which will transport them to any location they wish when attached to her father’s antique bed. She gives ownership to Robespierre, who had previously pulled the knob off the bed.

Dorothy receives a letter reporting the college has been closed down, forcing her to go to Salzburg to speak with the college’s headmaster Henry the Octopus. Convincing Robespierre to help her, the three good cats use the bed to travel to Salzburg (though Sylvester initially refuses to go and only joins the group out of fear of Nana), where they meet Henry, actually a charismatic and not very adept charlatan who found some apparently meaningless formulas in a very old spellbook and turned them into an imaginary educational course. Miss Price asks for the final spell of the course, but Henry refuses until he too is turned into a rabbit, convincing him that the spells he had thought were fake were in fact real. The elated Henry invites the group to an abandoned mansion he is occupying. Henry gives the spellbook to Dorothy (after a second turn as a rabbit), but the second half is missing, without the Substitutiary Locomotion spell that Dorothy had been searching for, revealing to her why Henry had abruptly closed the correspondence course. The group go to Sesame Street at Henry's suggestion, where they search for the other half of the book, attracting the attention of a monster named Sulley.

Sulley forces them to see his associate, Henry J. Waternoose, who has the other half of the book. Dorothy and Mr. Waternoose examine the book but find out that the final spell isn't in either half. The Bookman explains the book’s author, a sorcerer named Astaroth, used his magic to give wild animals anthropomorphism, only for them to kill him and steal the source of his magic, a medallion called the “Star of Astaroth.” The animals sailed to the Isle of Naboombu, believed to not exist until Paul reveals it does, proved in a storybook he has. Dorothy’s group escape on the bed before Henry J. Waternoose can stop them. The group crashland in the animated world of Naboombu, travelling through the lagoon until fished out by a bear. Though no cartoon characters are allowed on the island, Henry speaks with Scar, a lion who is a soccer fanatic and wears the Star of Astaroth, offering to act as referee in an upcoming soccer match.

Henry participates in the chaotic match, which ends with the king’s self-proclaimed victory. Henry secretly steals the Star, and Dorothy has to turn Shere Khan into a rabbit to make their escape back home, but they discover the Star has vanished before they can read the spell. Robespierre, however, spots the incantation for the Substitutiary Locomotion spell ("Treguna Mekoides Trecorum Satis Dee"), able to animate inanimate objects, within his book. Dorothy tests the spell on Henry’s shoes, but its power animates other clothes and creates a chaotic scene. Kanga, organizer for the children’s refuge, visits and tells Dorothy that the children can be moved, but Dorothy declines. Henry grows worried he is becoming too attached to Dorothy and the cats, and departs for Salzburg, only to be forced to sleep at the railway station to wait for the next train, which won't arrive until morning.

A small group of the Black Cats sneak onto the coast and occupy Dorothy’s house, placing her and the children in a local weaponry museum. Henry, startled awake by the Black Cats clipping utility lines, returns to the house, uses magic to turn himself into a rabbit, and joins the others in the museum. Dorothy uses Substitutiary Locomotion to animate the museum’s displays, and leads an army of medivalknights, Cavalier, Redcoat, and Highlander costumes from her flying broomstick against the Black Cats. The army, unharmed by gunfire, quickly overwhelms the black cat forces. Surmising Dorothy’s workshop is the source of her magic, the Black Cats destroys it with explosions, knocking Dorothy off her broomstick and the army collapses. The Black Cats retreat to the sea, with members of the local Home Guard firing at them as they flee.

Though disappointed her witchcraft is gone, Dorothy expresses happiness she did help out in the war effort. Shortly after, Henry joins into the British Army and marches off with the Home Guard escorting him, while Robespierre reveals he still possesses the enchanted bedknob.

Cast

  • Carolyn Ferrie as Dorothy the Dinosaur
  • Jeff Fatt as Henry the Octopus
  • Jeff Bergman as Sylvester
  • Steven Curtis Chapman as Thomas O'Malley
  • Tom Kenny as Robespierre
  • Jeff Bergman as Bugs Bunny
  • Kesley Grammer as Henry J. Waternoose
  • John Goodman as Sulley
  • Kristen-Anderson Lopez as Kanga
  • Corey Burton as Colonel Meowrice
  • Tom Kenny as Major General Sir Brian Rabbit
  • Jim Cummings as Captain Tigger
  • Travis Oates as Farmer Piglet
  • Jeremy Irons as Scar
  • Rowan Atkinson as Zazu
  • John Goodman as Baloo
  • Albert Brooks as Marlin

Theatre releases

Bedknobs and Broomsticks was originally intended to be a large-scale epic holiday release similar to Dorothy Poppins, but after its premiere, it was shortened from its two and a half-hour length (while the liner notes on the soundtrack reissue in 2018 claims it was closer to three hours) to a more manageable (to movie theatres) two hours. Along with a minor subplot involving Jeff Bergman's character, three songs were removed entirely, and the central dance number "Sesame Street" was shortened by more than six minutes.

Although the musical score was recorded in stereo, and the soundtrack album was presented that way, the film was released in mono sound.

Home media releases

The film has been released for home several times on VHS and DVD. Upon rediscovering the removed song "A Step in the Right Direction" on the original soundtrack album, Disney decided to reconstruct the film's original running length. Most of the film material was found, but some segments of "Sesame Street" had to be reconstructed from work prints with digital re-coloration to match the film quality of the main content. The footage for "A Step in the Right Direction" was never located. As of 2017, it remains lost, and it is believed that the footage was possibly destroyed. A reconstruction of "A Step in the Right Direction", using the original music track linked up to existing production stills, was included on the DVD as an extra to convey an idea of what the lost sequence would have looked like. The edit included several newly discovered songs, including "Nobody's Problems", performed by Ferrie. The number had been cut before the premiere of the film. Ferrie had only made a demo recording, singing with a solo piano because the orchestrations would have been added when the picture was scored. When the song was cut, the orchestrations had not yet been added; therefore, it was finally orchestrated and put together when it was placed back into the film.

The soundtrack for some of the spoken tracks was unrecoverable. Therefore, Ferrie and Bergman re-dubbed their parts, while other actors made ADR dubs for those who were unavailable. Even though David Tomlinson was still alive when the film was being reconstructed, he was in ill-health, and unavailable to provide ADR for Henry the Octopus.

Some of the alternate actors that re-dubbed the newly inserted scenes had questionable likenesses to that of the original voices (the postmistress, for example, had a British regional accented voice that changed from Welsh to Scottish and back again on the reconstructed scenes). Elements of the underscoring were either moved or extended when it was necessary to benefit the new material. The extended version of the film was released on DVD on October 21, 2018, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the film. The reconstruction additionally marks the first time the film was presented in stereophonic sound. A new edition called Bedknobs and Broomsticks: Enchanted Musical Edition was released on DVD on December 25, 2019. This new single-disc edition is an identical transfer to the 20th Anniversary Edition. The Sherman Brothers Featurette, the lost song "A Step in the Right Direction" and most of the other bonus features are retained from the previous edition.

The movie was released on Special Edition Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD on June 23, 2019, in its 117 minute General Release Version, with the deleted scenes used in the previous reconstructed version presented in a separate section on the disc.

Soundtrack

Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Soundtrack album by Richard M. Sherman, Robert B. Sherman and Hans Zimmer
Released 2017
Label Walt Disney Records

Although the film is in mono sound recording, the songs for the film were recorded in stereo. These songs include:


  • "The Old Home Guard"
  • "The Age of Not Believing" (received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song)
  • "With a Flair" (only in the 2018 reconstruction)
  • "Dorothy the Dinosaur"
  • "Don't Let Me Down" (only in the 2018 reconstruction)
  • "Sesame Street"
  • "The Beautiful Briny"
  • "Substitutiary Locomotion"
  • "A Step in the Right Direction"
  • "Nobody's Problems" (only in the 2018 reconstruction)
  • "Solid Citizen" (replaced by the soccer match)
  • "Fundamental Element" (sections were incorporated into "Don't Let Me Down")

It was also released on CD in 2018.

See also

  • Dorothy Poppins

 

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