Y’all. One of my all-time favorite movies growing up was Bedknobs and Broomsticks with Angela Lansbury (#legend), and David Tomlinson (Mr. Banks from Mary Poppins). Magic beds, children winning over gruff adults, an animated remote island of human-like animals, and Nazis…I mean, it has all the elements of childhood fantasy that one could ever need. And right now, a good old-fashioned fantasy film is what I need, so thank you Disney+.
I sat down with my kids last Thursday night and introduced to them to this gem of 1970’s Disney, and was immediately transported to my grandparents’ living room, where I spent most of my childhood summer days watching this movie. Their home was the safest space in my life. It was there I learned how to paint, crochet, sew…the tasks my grandmother called “the lost arts,” with soap operas or Reba McEntire in the background. My grandfather showed me and my brother how to safely use a bandsaw for woodworking in between us jumping on the trampoline or setting up buckets and sticks and strings to try and catch squirrels or birds. When lunch rolled around, we would sit down and make mini sandwiches with crackers and cheese and pickles and cold caffeine free sodas. My happiest childhood memories are from those summers. Isn’t it amazing what a movie can inspire in our memories and hearts?
By the time siblings Paul, Carrie, and Charlie (Roy Snart, Cindy O’Callaghan, and Ian Weighill) arrive at Ms. Price’s home in rural England, she has been corresponding with Professor Emelius Brown for instructions on using magic. Her lack of organization and memory skills often mean spells going wrong, but she clearly has a gift. When the last letter comes with the closure of the college without the final spell, Ms. Price and the children travel to the city to discover the truth. But they don’t take a train or a car. No, they use Charlie’s bedknob with a traveling spell that Ms. Price has placed upon it. When he “taps it three times and turns a quarter-turn to the left,” the bed will take them wherever they want to go.
In London, they discover Mr. Brown is a bit of a fraud, had copied the spells from an old book, and didn’t have the final spell for substitutionary locomotion that Ms. Price hoped to use to help in the war with Germany. He’s amazed by her ability to actually use the spells, and she is determined to find the final spell. Their journey takes them to the mythical Island of Naboombu, where animals talk and walk and live like humans. This animated, magical world holds the key to that final spell, and the results will change the fate of our five travelers and maybe even the war itself.
There are so many more things that I love about this movie, but what always makes me giddy is the search for something beyond ourselves that could make a difference. Of course there are things we can all do and parts we can all play, but I’m also looking for the signs that there is something out there…something powerful and miraculous…that can pick up where I leave off. And while it’s true that children are so good at believing in something that adults just can’t grasp, I love how this movie is led by a grown-up believing in that same magic. Oh, to be such an adult!
In spite of a world that seems out of control, with fear and sickness and darkness seemingly in every corner, for me, movies like these transport me from into a world of laughter and color and magic. It may not be enough to completely block out the noise (nor should it in many cases), but for a couple of hours I am a kid again, spending summer days with those who’ve passed on, and I can look to the horizon with hope in my heart that the impossible is possible.