New on Home Video: 3/8/2011


This week’s home video releases include two ambitious animated films from Studio Ghibli, an ambitious Arthurian saga and a modest but essential religious family classic that should be in everyone’s home library, especially at Easter season.

New on DVD, Tales From Earthsea (buy) is the directorial debut of Goro Miyazaki, son of legendary Studio Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki. Tales from Earthsea isn’t remotely the classic that is the elder Miyazaki’s Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (buy), newly available in a two-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo edition, but there are resonances between the two works, and Goro’s film, flawed though it is, shows promise.

Also in a new two-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo edition is The Miracle Maker (buy), a minor masterpiece of stop-motion animation that's one the best films ever made on the life of Jesus, and indispensable Easter viewing at our house. Indispensable, I say. If you haven’t seen it, you don’t know what you’re missing. Trust me. I practically guarantee you’ll be glad you did.

New on Blu-ray, much less essential: John Boorman’s Excalibur (buy), a film that makes a real attempt at being the Arthurian classic that Hollywood never produced — and pretty much makes a mess of it, although it’s a kind of interesting mess. It tries to honor as much of the Arthurian material as possible, but fails to make a coherent whole out of it. Still, if you’re an Arthur buff, you may want to catch it.