|The Black Cauldron|
Original theatrical release poster
The Black Cauldron is a 1985 animated feature produced by Walt Disney Pictures and originally released to theatres on July 24, 1985. The twenty-fifth animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics and Disney's first PG-rated animated film, the film is based on Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain book series, which is in turn based on Welsh mythology.
The film centers around the evil Horned King who attempts to secure the Black Cauldron in order to rule the world. The Horned King is opposed by the heroes Taran, Princess Eilonwy, Fflewddur Fflam and Gurgi.
The film is directed by Ted Berman and Richard Rich, and stars the voices of Grant Bardsley, Susan Sheridan, Freddie Jones, Nigel Hawthorne, and John Hurt. A video game based on the film was released in 1986.
Taran is "assistant pig-keeper" on the small farm of Caer Dallben, home of Dallben the enchanter. Taran dreams of becoming a great warrior, but must stop daydreaming because his charge, the oracular pig Hen Wen, is in danger. The Horned King, a fearsome, skeletal, undead king who wears antler horns on his head, hopes she will help him find the Black Cauldron, which has the power to restore a kind of life to the dead, as undead slaves called "the Cauldron-Born", which he will use to rule the world. Dallben directs Taran to take Hen Wen to safety, but the lad's daydreaming results in the pig's capture by the Horned King's forces.
Taran follows them to the Horned King's stronghold and acquires the small, pestering companion Gurgi along the way. Taran leaves Gurgi to sneak into the castle and rescues Hen Wen, who flees, but he is captured himself and thrown into the dungeon, soon to be released by Princess Eilonwy, a girl his age who is also trying to escape. In the catacombs beneath the castle, Taran and Eilonwy discover the ancient burial chamber of a king, where he arms himself with the king's sword. It contains magic that allows him effectively to fight the Horned King's minions and so to fulfill his dream of heroism. Along with a third captive, the comical, middle-aged bard Fflewddur Fflam, they escape the castle and are soon reunited with Gurgi.
Following Hen Wen's trail, the four stumble into the underground kingdom of the Fair Folk, small fairy-like beings who reveal that Hen Wen is under their protection. When the cheerful, elderly King Eiddileg reveals that he knows where the cauldron is, Taran resolves to go destroy it himself. Eilonwy, Fflewddur, and Gurgi agree to join him and Eiddileg's obnoxious right-hand man Doli is assigned to lead them to the Marshes of Morva while the Fair Folk agree to escort Hen Wen safely back to Caer Dallben. At the marshes they learn that the cauldron is held by three witches, the grasping Orddu, who acts as leader, the greedy Orgoch, and the more benevolent Orwen, who falls in love with Fflewddur at first sight; they cause a frighted Doli to abandon the group. Orddu agrees to trade the cauldron for Taran's sword, and he agrees, although he knows that to yield it will cost his chance for heroism. Before vanishing, the witches reveal that the cauldron is indestructible, and that its power can be broken only by someone who climbs in under his own free will, which will kill him. None of the companions will do that, so it seems Taran has traded his sword for nothing. Taran feels foolish for aspiring to destroy the cauldron alone, but his longer companions show their belief in him, and it appears that he and Eilonwy will kiss.
The Horned King's soldiers interrupt, finally reaching the marshes themselves. They seize the cauldron and everyone but Gurgi, and return to the castle. The Horned King uses the cauldron to raise the dead and his Cauldron-Born army begins to pour out into the world.
Gurgi manages to free the captives and Taran resolves to cast himself into the cauldron, but Gurgi stops that and advances himself instead. The undead army collapses. When the Horned King spots Taran at large, he infers the turn of events and throws the youth toward the cauldron, but the cauldron's magic is out of control. It consumes the Horned King and destroys the castle, using up all its powers.
The three witches come to recover the now inert Black Cauldron. Taran has finally realized Gurgi's true friendship, however, and he persuades them to revive the wild thing in exchange for the cauldron, giving up his magical sword permanently. Fflewddur goads the reluctant witches to go ahead and demonstrate their powers by the revival, which they do.
The four friends journey back to Caer Dallben where Dallben and Doli watch them in a vision created by Hen Wen, and Dallben finally praises Taran for heroism.
- Grant Bardsley as Taran
- Susan Sheridan as Eilonwy
- Freddie Jones as Dallben
- Nigel Hawthorne as Fflewddur Fflam
- Arthur Malet as King Eidilleg
- John Byner as Gurgi/Doli
- Eda Reiss Merin as Orddu
- Adele Malis-Morey as Orwen
- Billie Hayes as Orgoch
- Phil Fondacaro as Creeper
- John Hurt as Horned King
- John Huston as Narrator
ProductionEditThe Black Cauldron was the first use of the APT process in a film, which replaced Xerography at Disney. It was the most expensive animated feature made as of its release in 1985. It cost $25 million to produce,"MK's" but grossed only $21 million at the North American box office.
The first Disney animated feature to employ computer-generated imagery, The Black Cauldron was also the first animated film from Disney to get a PG rating from the MPAA. The film's rating was the result of a number of dark and violent scenes, some of which were edited from the film by newly installed studio chief Jeffrey Katzenberg before the release of the film.
The bulk of the cut scenes involved the undead "Cauldron Born", who are used as the Horned King's army in the final act of the film. While most of the scenes were seamlessly removed from the film, one cut involving a Cauldron Born killing a person by slicing his neck and torso created a jump in the film's soundtrack. Additionally, a scene involving Taran taking the magic sword and slaying his foes while he escapes the Horned King's castle for the first time was removed, as well as another scene with Princess Eilonwy partially nude as fabric was ripped off of her dress as she is hanging by her hands. Another scene cut featured a man being dissolved by mist.
As of lte July 2011, a version of the film with the removed scenes restored has never been released. A version of the film with more cuts has appeared on the Disney Channel and Toon Disney. ABC Family howevers airs the film in its entirety with a TV-PG-V rating guideline.
Soundtrack EditThe Black Cauldron: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is the soundtrack album to the film. It was composed and conducted by Elmer Bernstein and originally released in 1985. The tracks were performed by Utah Symphony Orchestra.
Unlike most other Disney animated films, the film contained no songs. At the time, Bernstein just came off the success of his Academy Award-nominated score for the 1983 film Trading Places as well as the score for the 1984 film Ghostbusters. Like in the latter of the two, The Black Cauldron saw the use of the ghostly ondes Martenot to build upon the dark mood of Prydain.
Original release Edit
Because of the film's last minute revisions, much of Bernstein's score was cut and unused. In its minority, the score was re-recorded for the album original release by Varèse Sarabande in 1985. The album soon fell out of print and many of the film's tracks did not resurface until a bootleg copy entitled "Taran" was supplied to soundtrack specialty outlets in 1996.Release The film was first released on July 24, 1985. The Black Cauldron remained out of circulation (both theatrically and on home video) for well over a decade. It was finally released on VHS on August 4, 1998 under the Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection.
The film was re-released on VHS and DVD on October 3, 2000 under the Walt Disney Gold Classic Collection. Though the R1 DVD is unrestored and non-anamorfic; the R2 release in France is restored, remastered, and anamorphic. The US DVD release includes the film's theatrical trailer, as well as a still frame gallery, the Donald Duck cartoon, "Trick or Treat," and a, "Quest for the Black Cauldron," set-top game.
Ultimate Disney has announced that a new Special Edition DVD release that came out September 14, 2010 in the US and UK, containing deleted scenes and other features.
The soundtrack was re-released in 2012 as part of Intrada Records partnership with Walt Disney Records to re-release several Disney films soundtracks. The album features a new expanded and remastered version of the score.
Critical response Edit
The score received positive reviews from music critics, and today is regarded as one of best works by Bernstein and for a Disney animated film, despite its obscurity. Jason Ankeny from AllMusic gave to the soundtrack a positive review, stating that "Bernstein's bleak arrangements and ominous melodies vividly underline the fantasy world portrayed onscreen, and taken purely on its own terms, the score is an undeniable success". The film score review website Filmtracks wrote: "The score for The Black Cauldron was for Bernstein what Mulan was for Jerry Goldsmith in the next decade: a fascinating journey into a fresh realm that required its music to play a more significant role in the film".
Release history Edit
|United States||1985||Cassette, CD, LP||Varèse Sarabande||B000OODDXS|
|April 3, 2012||CD, digital download||Intrada Records||B007SYIQAM|
The film was a failure at the box-office with some critics blaming the film's lack of appeal on the dark nature of the book. However, Roger Ebert's review of the film was generally positive. It has earned a score of 60% "fresh" at Rotten Tomatoes.
Tim Burton, worked on the Black Cauldron as a concept artist, this was also the first movie he worked on that he was credited for. This was his third Disney movie he worked on. It was when he was working on this film, during his down time, he came up with some drawing sketches of The Nightmare Before Christmas.
- ↑ Magical Kingdoms
- ↑ Boxofficemojo.com
- ↑ Stewart, James B. (2006). Disneywar. Simon and Schuster, 68–70. ISBN 0-7432-6709-5.
- ↑ Imageshack.us, Graphic image. An animation cel which was auctioned on eBay, from Sarah's Black Cauldron Page
- ↑ YouTube.com, video of trailer for TBC showing one of the deleted scenes
- ↑ Ultimatedisney.com
- ↑ Boxofficemojo.com, The Black Caudron at Box Office Mojo
- ↑ SunTimes.com