The Sword in the Stone (1963)

As we know it today, Disney has had a lot of experience dealing with History, generally meaning Pocahontas which…we’ll get to later… I suppose you could argue that this is their first. This, is The Sword in the Stone.

The plot centres around young Arthur who is treated badly by his foster-father and brother before meeting the wizard Merlin and his talking owl Archimedes. Merlin vows to teach Arthur and together they go on various adventures, mainly consisting of turning into different animals. Arthur’s life changes when he pulls a sword from a stone (hence the title…)

I like this film but it is far from perfect. Firstly let’s go through whats good about the film, the characters are great. Merlin and Archimedes are likable, Arthur is likable and the villains are actually pretty good. Madam Mim kicks ass and the foster-father and brother are different in the ways in which they treat Arthur. The brother is just your day-to-day, average, run of the mill douchecookie but the father is different, he’s just treating Arthur the way he thinks you should treat a kid, constant rules and punishments to keep them in line. He isn’t evil or as unlikable as the brother, he even apologizes at the end of the film and worries about Arthur when he goes off into some dark part of the forest. The songs are good too. The idea that magic plays such a big part in the plot means that new and strange words can be created and thrown into songs and it works really well, as well as actually acting as a reason why the songs would be used in the first place, because they’re spells. The animation is nice, once again nothing special, and is used well in the song sequences and the wizard’s duel, which is freaking awesome! Plus, the story is great. I like how we see Merlin as an adult teaching a young, boy Arthur and it really comes across in their relationship which…I’ll come back to… I also like that fact that there isn’t a main story, it’s more of just Merlin teaching Arthur and all the adventures they have, in that respect I suppose it’s kinda like Dumbo or Pinocchio. So, where does the film fall down? Well I can think of two reasons. Firstly, Arthur can’t sing. I mean, he’s really bad, just awful. I guess that’s intentional (at least I hope it is) but you so could’ve dubbed that or something. Secondly…Merlin, yeah I know so shoot me. While it isn’t completely damaging, there are some points I think should be mentioned. Firstly, he’s not a very good teacher is he? I mean he never really teaches Arthur anything, just turns him into various animals and pisses about, hell he nearly got him killed twice! TWICE!! Secondly, he doesn’t seem to care that much about Arthur, I mean he does care but only to a certain degree. It’s obviously a friendly relationship but whenever Arthur gets in trouble Merlin just sort of laughs and tells him to deal with it himself because he might learn something. Now, I know that these aren’t massive points and it far from ruins the film completely for me. Instead, I kinda like it. Not so much the bad singing, but defiantly the whole Merlin thing, I guess I like looking at this character in a way that doesn’t show him to be perfect.

A good film, good music, good plot, nice characters, decent animation. Frankly I like it.



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