Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Sword in the Stone

The Sword in the Stone definitely feels like one of the lesser known Disney movies, and while it's cute there isn't anything too remarkable about it, so I'm not surprised.  I personally have been very into Arthurian legends recently and have  read a lot on the subject, so I was looking forward to this one.  The film is based on the first section of T.H. White's book The Once and Future King, which I just read a few months ago.  Disney stays surprisingly close to the original story - with the exception of Mim, who is not in the book and, as far as I know, is not from legend but from Disney.

Perhaps Disney should have spiced things up a bit more, because as fun as The Sword in the Stone is, the problem the movie has is the same problem I had with the first part of the book - not much happens.  There is very little plot.  The important events in this section can be summed up in about one sentence.  Disney actually greatly benefits from adding in Madam Mim, who makes the film interesting and exciting.  Otherwise it's just turning into different animals and exploring, and sort of but not really feeling bad for Arthur who is picked on by his foster brother Kay.  "Sort of not really feeling bad for him" because we all know that Arthur is going to triumph in the end.

That said, Merlin is a great character.  His whimsy and fun is captured perfectly, and he's quite humorous as well.  The film has a very British feel throughout, which makes sense and they did it well.  The film is extremely lighthearted and enjoyable, the animation is good, but it's probably not the sort of Disney movie you would want to watch again and again.  At the ending of the movie is when I really want it to keep going, and to get into the knights of the round table and all of that, but alas, being a kid's movie, that is when it ends.

The Music
This one is woefully low on good music, with just a few songs which are easily forgotten.  There is a very short, but beautiful opening number sung over the opening credits, and then most of the songs are Merlin's, though they are often spoken lyrics, which does not always make for great music.  Mim also has a song.  I have three volumes of CDs with Disney's Greatest Hits (around 60 songs total), and nothing from The Sword in the Stone appears on any of them - which kind of shows you the popularity and quality of the music.

The Villain
The original story didn't have a villain, so Disney added in Mad Madam Mim - a smart move for them.  Though she isn't all that scary and mostly comes off as quite silly, she is entertaining and makes things interesting.  There are a few moments where we greatly dislike her - after all, who creates rules for a game and then immediately breaks them herself?  Overall, however, we know Merlin will outsmart her in the end.  She also doesn't come into play in the movie until the very end, and then she just has a quick scene.  Unlike other Disney villains, she is not a lingering force throughout the film.

The Disney World Connection
For some reason, The Sword in the Stone did not really catch on very well, though it was popular when it came out in 1963, so it's not all that prevalent in the parks.   Merlin may be seen walking about the parks, and there is also a sword in a stone located in the Magic Kingdom.

My rating:  7.5 out of 10
Jason's rating:  7 out of 10

4 comments:

  1. For some reason, this move was one of my favorites... I don't remember much of it, but like you said in the Peter Pan post, once you watch it you'll start to have everything come back. I think it's amazing the things you can remember! ^^

    -Sarah

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  2. There is a stone with a sword in the Fantasyland part of Magic Kingdom.

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  3. Thank you! I never knew about that... I will update :)

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  4. This is actually one of my favorite Disney movies! And I think it's for many of the reasons that you already listed; there's not really a villain save for Mim, and she's not a rule-the-world type villain, rather Wart just happens upon her. The music is all spoken by the voice actors, and I feel it's a more natural transition than some other Disney animated musicals. Also, no love interest for Wart. Basically, it avoids many of the clich├ęs that so many other Disney animated movies use.

    Also, "Higitus Figitus", the packing song Merlin sings, is a pretty fun song.

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