Monday, May 23, 2011


I finally got around to watching the animated film, THE SWORD IN THE STONE, yesterday. At 79 minutes, it didn't take an enormous committment of time.

I don't know how Disney film critics and historians view this film, but I'd guess they would see it as a fairly minor addition to the catalog. It was a good, but not great, movie, and was fun to watch. The songs seemed a bit forced and not really all that memorable. The animation was pretty basic but well done.

I believe it's based loosely on T.H. White's The Once And Future King, though they just say "based on the story by T.H. White" in the credits. In this one, Arthur, known as Wart, is a page trying to be a squire in the household of Sir Ector, and he is acting as Ector's son Kay's squire-in-training. Merlin meets up with him, and takes on the task of educating the young boy in something other than polishing boots and caring for armor and weapons. To do this he transforms young Wart into a fish, a bird and a squirrel. I'm not sure what lessons the boy learns from these things in the movie, but presumably it's something about using his head to solve problems.

As anyone who knows the Arthurian legends will recall, Arthur is the one who can remove the sword from the stone, which identifies him as king of England. In this (and, I believe, in T.H. White's) version, Arthur goes with Sir Kay as his squire to a jousting contest set to determine the king of England, and forgets Kay's sword. So he decides to go grab the one from the church courtyard that is set in stone. And of course, he removes it without being aware of the significance, and brings it to Kay.

And then the movie ends pretty abruptly, because once they realize Arthur is the true king of England, the film cuts to him sitting on the throne, an oversized crown on his head, and Merlin reappearing from his trip to Bermuda (in the 20th century) to advise him. The abruptness of the ending seemed very unlike Disney.

I felt like I could see some things that were used in Beauty and the Beast and Tangled foreshadowed in this film. Also perhaps some animation and ideas from other, older Disney films (Fantasia, perhaps?) seem to have been used here as well.

I enjoyed this movie, but wouldn't put it up with the greats of Disney animation.


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