With the help of a smooth talking tomcat, a family of Parisian felines set to inherit a fortune from their owner try to make it back home after a jealous butler kidnaps them and leaves them in the country.
Arthur (aka Wart) is a young boy who aspires to be a knight's squire. On a hunting trip he falls in on Merlin, a powerful but amnesiac wizard who has plans for Wart beyond mere squiredom. He starts by trying to give Wart an education (whatever that is), believing that once one has an education, one can go anywhere. Needless to say, it doesn't quite work out that way.Written by
Tim Pickett <email@example.com>
Tudor Owen (Background Knight in a crowd), Thurl Ravenscroft (Sir Bart), Rickie Sorensen (Arthur), Junius Matthews (Archimedes), and Martha Wentworth (Madam Mim and the Granny Squirrel) appeared in 101 Dalmatians, two years earlier. Unfortunately for Wentworth and Owen, this film was their last film roles before they ever did before their retirement. See more »
When Mim is sitting at the table playing solitaire, she pulls the 3 of hearts from the deck, however the 3 of hearts is already on the table. See more »
A legend is sung, / Of when England was young, / And knights were brave and bold. / The good king had died, / And no one could decide / Who was rightful heir to the throne. / It seemed that the land / Would be torn by war, / Or saved by a miracle alone. / And that miracle appeared in London town: / The Sword in the Stone.
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The UK DVD version omits part of Madam Mim's first line "Sounds like someone's sick. How lovely. I do hope it's serious. Something dreadful." She now says "Sounds like someone's sick. How lovely." See more »
When it comes to classic Disney, The Sword in the Stone is usually overlooked compared to other sixties releases. Not one character here has had the kind of iconography many of Disney's characters have, with the possible exception of Merlin. There are no classic villains and the conflict is pretty loose and undeveloped. Despite all this, I think the film deserves a bit more love than it typically gets. It's not a great Disney movie, but it's a solid one with scenes of real note.
Nevertheless, Disney's influence is notably more scattershot in this film than in any of the previous ones. This is bad when your movie is dealing with the coming of age of King Arthur of all people. Our Arthur in this tale is too damn cute for us to really buy his potential, and Merlin, though great fun, seems like just about the worst teacher you could possibly hand a student to (one of his lessons seems to be to always use magic to fudge your chores...brilliant). The various episodes generally don't add up to much of anything other than chase scenes and slapstick comedy. Considering we're dealing with an older character than Pinocchio, it's just too bad that Pinocchio had to deal with much more hellish and sobering obstacles than does Wart.
If, however, we forget that this isn't a great narrative and focus on the individual bits, there's some fun to be had. Design wise, it's not One Hundred and One Dalmations but it's still loaded with some great stylized visuals and colors. Milt Kahl gets to do some straight cartooning with Merlin, and succeeds quite spectacularly, particularly in his use of hands (animators take note...Kahl was a master of that hard-to-draw limb). There's another great example of slapstick in Brian Sibley's wolf character, who is completely useless and might as well have been taken out altogether but is so inventively utilized that I don't mind him at all. I think the same of Madame Mim, who again serves a pretty dubious purpose (remember, young Wart, if someone insults you...shoot magic at them) but on her own terms is very entertaining.
However, I do not have this complaint with the squirrel sequence, which is one of the best scenes in any Disney movie. Not only is it a masterful example of boarding and animation working together, it actually manages to balance some good physical comedy with a poignant message...one that Merlin's other lessons could stand to incorporate. Frank Thomas did most of this scene, and it's a great example of difficult motions handled with a strong sense of weight (one animator associate of mine played it on his ipod while doing some work, and when I pointed out how much I liked that scene he responded with "Yes, it's...so beautiful," before tearing up. I wouldn't go quite that far...) Really, though, it's a shame we couldn't have gotten a ballsier version of this story. There's just not much to it. When Merlin leaves at the end, we shrug our shoulders and wonder why it should matter. Wart doesn't learn anything really, except in a few instances. The movie's quite watchable, but little else. Oddly, I think the transformation scenes must have influenced some of Osamu Tezuka's work (like Buddha) but he was much more forceful with how this pertained to character growth. If Sword in the Stone had done the same, it might have been another great and unusual Disney movie, rather than a somewhat tepid collection of solid scenes. Still, I'd consider it underrated on this level.
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