Disney meetsKing Arthur.Loosely adapted from the novel of the same name by T. H. White, which became part one of The Once and Future King.This film version was made in 1963, as the 18th entry in the Disney Animated Canon. It was Walt Disney's penultimate animated film and the last one released while he was still alive. At the start of the story, the king Uther Pendragon has died. Soon after, a sword stuck in an anvil appears in London with a message that says that the person who can remove the sword is the legitimate successor to the throne. However, no one is able to succeed at this task.Cut several years later to the main protagonist, twelve-year-old Arthur, also called Wart. He is an orphan who was taken in and raised by Sir Ector. Arthur, who is training to be a squire, is under the apprenticeship of Sir Kay, his older foster brother. One day, while accompanying Kay on a hunting trip, Wart inadvertently distracts the knight, causing the aim of his arrow to go off target, missing the deer and losing the ammo. The younger boy goes into the forest to retrieve it. While doing so, he accidentally crashes into the house of the magician Merlin. Upon meeting, the wizard declares that he will tutor Arthur, a decision that greatly changes the boy's life.The film is a well-loved part of Disney canon, and the character of Madame Mim has a very large fanbase in several countries. In the Netherlands, she appears almost weekly in mainstream Disney comics.
This film provides examples of:
Abhorrent Admirer: The two female squirrels who fall for Wart and Merlin... well, the one who falls for Merlin, at least.
Action Girl: The girl squirrel for biting the wolf who thought Wart was a nice snack.
Affably Evil: Madame Mim is cheerful, amiable, and actually pretty friendly when Arthur blunders into her house, and while he can tell she's unpleasant, he doesn't even realize she's dangerous until she tells him she has to kill him which she says with about as much fanfare as someone saying it's suddenly started raining.
Anachronism Stew: While it's far from the only adaptation to do so, this sets King Arthur in mediaeval England, about a thousand years after King Arthur is actually supposed to have lived. It's particularly glaring when "England" is mentioned as the setting—England only came into existence because Arthur and other Welsh kings failed to stop the English from taking their land.
There's also Merlin's comment about helicopters (see Analogy Backfire), which shouldn't exist yet. However, this case is in-universe, because Merlin can see into the future.
Analogy Backfire: Merlin teaching Arthur that swimming like a fish is like flying a helicopter. Arthur doesn't know what he means. Merlin, realizing what he said, told him to forget it.
Artistic License - Biology: While it is true the female squirrel chooses a mate, the mate is chosen among a group who wish to court her, and she is the one to be chased. Furthermore, squirrels do not in fact have one mate for life, in fact the male leaves before the birth of the babies. Then again, we wouldn't have this adorable scene if it followed that to a T.
And Merlin does not like the martial aspect of English nobility.
Likewise, try pissing off Ector by coming up with (in his view) extremely far-fetched excuses for ducking out on your kitchen duties, or trying to defend Merlin's behavior, and you'll send him flying off the handle so far that you'll be doing dishes for the entire castle.
Big Friendly Dog: The castle hounds, Tiger and Talbon. When Wart is brought home by Merlin, they run over to him, tackle him, and lick his face happily.
Break the Cutie: What happens to Wart's cute little squirrel admirer when she discovers that he's not of her kind.
It was actually Merlin asking for clarification on the idea of rules: "Rule three: No Disappearing [teleportation/intangibility]" "Rule four: No Cheating!" If Mim was throwing out rules, he wanted to make sure she obeyed them as Archimedes himself warned she was only creating rules so that she could break them (which she did).
Disney Villain Death: Subverted. Madame Mim plummets screaming off a cliff and into a bog to her apparent doom, trapped inside a tree with seemingly no hope of escape, to similar effect as the Evil Queen falling off the cliff in Snow White, but instead she pops up moments later having turned herself into a purple dragon.
Evil Redhead: Ector and Kay aren't really evil, but they do act fairly antagonistic towards Arthur. (Well, as antagonistic as any stern dad and jerky older brother of any kid hero in a cartoon where Adults Are Useless.)
Evil Plan: Inverted to Good Plan. Merlin wants to save Wart from a Squire's life and make him into something greater.
Foreshadowing: Possibly an unintentional example; when Merlin overdoes his cleaning spell and it messes up the castle, the angered Sir Extor and servant woman call him an "old goat". Later towards the climax of Merlin and Mim's wizard's duel, an old goat is exactly what Merlin turns himself into.
The opening of the film shows a wolf, hawk and squirrel in the forest.
Partially played with in that the creators seem to be going with T.H. White's concept of Merlin living through time backwards. Merlin himself reveals that he's seen "centuries into the future" and that he's even been there. And what's the best way to portray that in a children's film, apparently? Have him spout wacky anachronisms!
Heroes Want Redheads: Subverted, and averted, with Wart's encounter with the female squirrel who, according to Merlin, is a redhead.
Heroic BSOD: Arthur undergoes a minor one after losing his chance to become Kay's squire.
Hopeless Suitor: The two amorous squirrels who fall for Arthur and Merlin. Whereas the old lady squirrel who chases after Merlin is Played for Laughs, Arthur's girl squirrel companion is done so as well until the end where it... isn't.
Human Traffic Jam: The line of Merlin's belongings going into the bag during the "Higitus Figitus" sequence.
Humiliation Conga: When Ector and Kay try to interfere with the magically-animated cleaning implements, an assembly line of slapstick ensues.
Kay is implied to have at least a few gold flecks in there as well. At the end when his father demands he bow to Arthur, Kay does so sullenly at first... then after actually looking at him, does so sincerely.
And Ector, who is rather quick to apologize to Arthur for the way he's treated him.
Late to the Punchline: Merlin after Wart's admittedly rather brilliant joke about Archimedes "staying out late every night".
Merlin: "Why, they might even make a motion picture about you".
Loophole Abuse: No make-believe creatures like pink dragons, so Mim turns into a purple dragon, it's still make believe, but she doesn't care. (Unless, of course, dragons do exist in this world, just not pink ones.)
Merlin one-ups her on this magnificently - while there's a rule that says "no turning into plants or minerals" he turns himself into a germ - which is neither - to infect her and win the duel.
Love at First Sight: Both the young squirrel and old squirrel go through this upon meeting Arthur and Merlin respectively and try to earn their mates' affection.
Love Hurts: One of the most heartbreaking examples. The girl squirrel really loved Arthur and immediately starts sobbing in confusion and grief when he reveals himself to be human.
This scene was such a Tear Jerker for some fans that in recent years, some have attempted Fix Fic where Arthur asks Merlin to turn her into a human. This spawned a good handful of art that is dangerously adorable.
Never Say "Die": In the Wizard's Duel, Merlin and Mim are trying to 'destroy' each other.
Not Allowed to Grow Up: Wart is a strange case. By the sound of his voice changing radically throughout the movie, it would seem as though time is passing and he is growing older, but he doesn't seem to physically change at all, making it just seem as though they couldn't keep a steady voice actor.
Wart was actually voiced by three different voice actors: Rickie Sorenson, Richard Reitherman and Robert Reitherman.
Parental Favoritism: Ector's partiality to Kay is somewhat justified by the fact that Arthur/Wart is only his foster child. While he could probably stand to be nicer to Arthur, he's not really mean either... more just strict and demanding, which seems to be his personality in general. Kay may be the favorite, but Wart at least isn't The Unfavourite.
Ector does take Arthur's side over Kay's at least once. At the start of the film, he's actually berating Kay for letting Arthur go off into the woods by himself.
Society also played a role in this. To be a knight in that period, you must be of noble birth. Kay is, Arthur isn't, so Kay gets all the combat training and respect. Playing second fiddle to him as a squire is the best Arthur could hope for by law.
Running Gag: Remember the very muscular, intimidating wolf from the opening scene? He reappears as a mangy, flea-bitten mongrel who is constantly having boulders dropped on him, getting the wind knocked out of him after chasing the main protagonists, chomping down on a tree branch, and getting stuck through a pair of branches.
Take That: Some see the character of Madame Mim (who hates sunshine) as one to critics who disliked the light tone of Disney's films.
Talking Animal: Archimedes. People who are transformed into animals keep their ability to talk. Interestingly, the girl squirrel, for all her incoherent chatter, says only one line of understandable human dialogue, "Oh no!" when her beloved Arthur is in danger of falling to his death.
Which Madame Mim proceeds to break like every other rule in it.
Through a Face Full of Fur: Or rather through a face full of scales/skin in her case as a dragon and then in her normal form, Madame Mim. One of the side effects she has is changing into various colors (including red from hot flashes and blue from chills) before stopping at green and breaking out in red spots, thanks to Merlin infecting her as a germ.
Vain Sorceress: Mim defies this trope. She says she could be beautiful if she wanted to be, and in fact, does change herself into such a form as it it were a parlor trick. Then she admits that such a form is only skin deep and she's happy being ugly.