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I've always loved all things Knight and dragon, if theres a fantasy movie out there I want to see it, i'd never heard of the movie as part of the Disney series until I stumbled upon it on tv by accident, there was little else on at the time and so I decided to give it a chance, while the main characters are children I didnt find myself watching it as if it were a movie aimed at kids. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and added the DVD version to my christmas list(which I was delighted to recieve) I now watch it often as part of my sci-fi/fantasy collection.
"The black cauldron" was Disneys 25th animated movie, it was produced by Walt Disney Productions, and originally released in cinemas on July 24, 1985 by Walt Disney Pictures and Buena Vista Distribution. It is one of Disneys lesser known animations having failed at the box office. Unlike other Disney animations "The black cauldron" features no songs.
Taran is a young assistant pig keeper who dreams of being a great warrior, Dallben the head pig keeper and Tarans only adult companion tries to keep his feet on the ground advising the young boy to concentrate on his duties rather than dreaming. One morning Taran is bathing Henwin, the pig which, as Dallben frequently reminds his assistant, is very special, Henwin starts to act strangely and Dallben rushes out to see what is the matter. They rush inside with Henwin and Dallben reveals why she is so special, Henwin is a psycic pig who sees visions, she had seen something which had made her fearful. Dallben encourages Henwin to reveal her vision and he realises she is in danger, the evil horned king has found out of her existence and is seeking her out to make use of her powers.
Dallben decides it would be best too move Henwin to another hide away and sends Taran away to guard the pig until it is safe for Dallben to join them.
On the way to their hide out Taran starts day dreaming and as he imagines being a brave and famous warrior Henwin wanders off. As he comes round from his daydream Taran realises Henwin has escaped and goes to find her, instead he meets Gurgy, a cute if scruffy little being who offers to help Taran find Henwin despite secretly not knowing where the pig has gone, unfortunately for Taran Gurgy is a coward and runs off whenever there's trouble. Taran sees Henwin taken to the horned kings castle and so decides to sneak in and save her.
The horned king has hunted down Henwin in his search for the black cauldron, he hopes that by using her powers he will find where the cauldron is hidden. Taran manages to make it into the castle but is soon discovered. He helps Henwin escape but is caught at the last moment and thrown into the horned kings dungeon where he meets Princess Eilonwy and Fflewddur Fflam(think "flewdur flam" and thats how you say it) The trio find a way of escape with the help of an enchanted sword and so their own adventure to find and destroy the black cauldron begins.
Along the way the trio encounter fairies, wyverns(2 legged dragonlike creatures) and witches. Gurgy re-joins the group and they manage to track down the cauldron only to be stopped at the last minute by the horned kings men, one of the group has to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to stop the horned kings evil plans but which will it be. Along the way they learn powerful lessons in friendship and teamwork but the film ends with a suitably happy conclusion(which I wont disclose)
Grant Bardsley ... Taran
Susan Sheridan ... Eilonwy
Freddie Jones ... Dallben
Nigel Hawthorne ... Fflewddur Fflam
Arthur Malet ... King Eidilleg
John Byner ... Gurgi/Doli
Eda Reiss Merin ... Orddu
Adele Malis-Morey ... Orwen
Billie Hayes ... Orgoch
Phil Fondacaro ... Creeper/henchman
The films extras include "Trick or Treat" Cartoon, Quest for Black Cauldron game, still frame gallery featuring images from the movie, scene selection and subtitles.
"The black cauldron" is available from all good entertainment stores such as HMV and Virgin, Woolworths and W.H.Smiths. Most of these stores have dedicated Disney sections and there is where you will find the dvd. It is available online in the region of £6.99 however in store Disney titles are more expensive and prices usually start from £9.99 upwards.
Im a huge fantasy fan so naturally I enjoy this movie. It's baddy is different to the norm, he's pure evil, bent on destruction and capable of raising an army of undead soldiers, this is a little darker than some of Disneys other themes, the horned king would even sacrifice his closest ally in order to achieve his goal.
Ok so the pig who can tell the future is a little on the odd side, it's certainly not something you can see coming when watching it for the first time. Gurgy is my favourite character and is likely to be most people's, he's totally adorable and has the funniest little voice, I felt so happy for him when he was finally accepted by Taran at the end, he's difficult to descibe he's sort of an animal/monster but he's not scary, he kind of looks like a Lhasa Apso or Shih Tzu dog able to walk like a human, all cute and hairy.
While the main characters are children I didnt find them annoying like I thought I would, they dream of being more than what they are but are mature enough(ok yes they're written that way) to accept the truth. The fairy folk are definately aimed at the younger viewers, with the exception of Doli who is a grumpy old fairy who feels put upon by those around him.
The film is animated in the basic Disney way of hand drwn animation cells, before any of the 3d computer graphics were developed, however it's well done with bright colouring or dark and dingy tones where appropriate. Some of the scenes are quite amusing as the animation cell of the scenery that is permanent is darker then the cell of the scenery that is going to move, you can always pick out which rocks are going to fall etc etc...
I think the film teaches good lessons in friendship, responsibilty and believing in yourself. Its a classic Disney laced with morals. While I would say it was suitable for younger viewers I would advise supervision, the horned king is quite scary for a Disney baddy and there is a scene where skeletons are raised from the dead which I think would scare little ones.
Many thanks for reading from Butterbear(piggypine)
This was Disney's 25th full length animation released in 1985 but to me this is quite a let down.
====What's It About?====
Taran is a young pig keeper, who longs for the adventure of being a knight and is often caught day dreaming about it.
His pet pig Henwen, has a special gift and knows the whereabouts of the much coveted Black Cauldron.
When the Evil Horned King discovers this, the young adventurer has no choice but to go into hiding to protect the priceless pig.
A young knight wannabe. He's always getting into trouble for day dreaming.
A princess who has been captured by the Horned King beacause of her magic bauble.
A pig! She doesn't say much but has a magical power.
A minstrel who likes to think he's brave, but is a coward. He has a magical harp that tells when people are lying.
The Horned King
An evil creature, who wants an army of the living dead that can only be created with the Black Caulron.
The Horned king's henchman. He's a frog looking thing who tried to offer some amusment to the film.
A loveable little creature who runs at the first sign of trouble. He's also a big fan of food. In my view he's the true star of the film and offers the only humour throughout the story.
The Three Witches
These remind me of when I studied MacBeth at school. They're your typical witches with warts and cackles for laughs. They're meant to be funny but frankly I couldn't really see it and they could be scary for younger kids.
Unusually for Disney, there are no songs in this film and the music is of a dark nature.
The voices are quite annoying too. The lead characters speak very poshly, and it has to be said not very well acted either. If trees could speak then this is how I wuold imagine them to sound.
All that aside, all the audio is of a good quality.
These are very good. The Horned King is very scary to look at and Gurgie is very sweet. True Disney magic as far as the animations go.
Some of the graphics may well scare younger children as they are very detailed.
====Who's It For?====
Admittedly this does have a U rating, but I think a PG would be a better rating. This film is very dark for Disney, and young children will be easily scared.
It is scary enough to give kids knightmares in my view anyway.
For adults the film will probably be quite boring as its not aimed at them.
I suppose the message to children is to be brave and face your fears, and the magic harp is meant to show that you will be caught out if you lie.
There aren't many to be completely honest. There's a Trick or Treat Cartoon, Quest for the Black Cauldron Game and Still Frame Gallery. None of which are anything to write home about.
Running Time: 77minutes
In my view, this is one of Disney's poorer films, as it's too violent and too scary for little children.
If you like fairies, goblins and witches then you may find it interesting from that point of view, but the voices will probably grate on you.
Despite all this, I can sit through this film if there's nothing else to hand, but I wouldn't go out of my way to watch it.
If any kids think differently of this film please let others know, as I was about 13 when I first saw it so was not the target viewer.