Disney: The Black Cauldron
"Whosoever uses the Black Cauldron for evil will be all-powerful, for my blood will flow with his, and together we will either rule the world or destroy it."
of the Black Cauldron
Meet Disney's Red-Headed Stepchild
, Old Shame
, and the 25th entry in the Disney Animated Canon
, 1985's The Black Cauldron
. It is the story of Taran, a young Assistant Pig Keeper who desperately wants to be a great warrior. He is charged with hiding Hen Wen, an innocent-looking pig -who is actually an oracle. The Big Bad
, the Horned King, wants the pig because she can uncover the location of the Black Cauldron, with which he will bring to life an army of invincible, undead warriors to conquer the world.
Along the way, Taran meets Gurgi, a cowardly, furry creature who is always looking for food to eat, Princess Eilonwy, who aids him in his escape from the Horned King's dungeon, and the wandering minstrel Fflewddur Fflam.
Based on a series of novels, The Chronicles of Prydain
by Lloyd Alexander
, The Black Cauldron
is easily one of Disney's darkest animated features. It is significant for the company in three ways:
- It is the first Disney animated feature to be rated PG in the USA for Family-Unfriendly Violence and disturbing imagery.
- It is the first Disney animated feature to have absolutely no singing; thus, there is one less element available to alleviate the movie's dark elements.
- It flopped so massively that Disney almost shut down their entire animation department over it.
A common misconception is that The Great Mouse Detective
was the first animated Disney movie to use CGI. Actually, it was this movie - the Bauble, boat, explosions, and cauldron itself were animated with CGI. However, because The Black Cauldron
was such a failure, most fans and critical Disney historians purposely forget this vital piece of trivia
.The Black Cauldron
was also a mildly successful computer game released by Sierra Entertainment
in 1986 (yes, the same folks who produced Space Quest
and King's Quest
The film's lack of success has led to it becoming something of a black sheep for the company. Its first official home video release did not occur until 1998. A 25th anniversary edition was released on September 24, 2010, so it seems Disney is confident of some demand for it among audiences, but characters from the film rarely appear in other Disney material. In particular, despite her Princess status, Princess Eilonwy is not part of the official Disney Princess line up.
Despite being a massive flop, it had gotten praise from probably the last person you'd expect - the writer of the original books, Lloyd Alexander
. He stated:
"First, I have to say, there is no resemblance
between the movie and the book. Having said that, the movie in itself, purely as a movie, I found to be very enjoyable. I had fun watching it. What I would hope is that anyone who sees the movie would certainly enjoy it, but I'd also hope that they'd actually read the book."
This film includes examples of: