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The Black Cauldron 1985

A young boy and a bunch of misfit friends embark on a quest to find a dark magic item of ultimate power before a diabolical tyrant can...

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Solar rating:7.4


Imdb rating:6.4


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I used to really love this movie as a kid and it was always something that I wanted to watch over and over. I don't think many people have seen this movie but it is a hidden disney gem. If you haven't seen it you should. I loveee it.

You wouldn't know it by it's state in the now, but Disney wasn't always the financial juggernaut it is today. In fact, in the 1980's, the studio was on pretty shaky financial legs until a little mermaid named Ariel swam by and saved the mouse factory from sinking by ushering in the animation renaissance of the 1990's and Belle, Simba, Quasimodo, Woody, Buzz, Tarzan, and Stitch (with a little help from Michael Eisner) gave the mouse back its roar.
In that time of financial uncertainty, there were some... well, let's just call them interesting cinematic experiments (including the horrendously bad but fun Oliver & Company). One of those experiments was buying up the rights to the novels of Lloyd Alexander and bringing them to the screen in beautiful cartoon form.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, but the result had Disney fanatics running for the hills. A shame really, because The Black Cauldron is really not a bad movie. Is it worthy of the moniker, "A Disney Masterpiece?" Not by a long shot... but if you're one of those people who lament endlessly about Disney being too kid-friendly, this is most definitely a movie you should look into.

The movie, as you can pretty much imagine, centers around an enchanted mythical black cauldron that can give its owner the power to take over the world. The opening narration of the movie explains that an evil king was encased in molten iron and that iron was made into the cauldron to which I say... WICKED!!!

Understandably, the black cauldron would be something of a boon to an evil queen, king, dictator, or overlord and - as you've probably guessed - an evil sorcerer called The Horned King decides to hunt down the magical stew pot to take over the world.

Into this tale, we throw in Taran... a young pig farmer who dreams of becoming a hero. Well, his dreams begin to come true when he learns that his favorite pig can tell the future (no, I'm not kidding) and the Horned King finds out about it and comes to claim the pig as his own. Taran is forced to take the pig into hiding, he meets up with some colorful characters, and finally lives his dream of becoming a celebrated hero.

And so, The Black Cauldron begins. Not a terrible movie, but not that great of a movie either. Like I said, if anything, it's an interesting artifact from Disney's troubled years.

The chief complaint I've heard more times about this movie is that it is a dark sinister tale full of things that would just scare the hell out of normal kids and, to tell you the truth, the advocates of that argument do have a point and one must wonder exactly who this movie was made for.

On one hand, you have disgustingly cute sidekicks like the squeaky-voiced and furry Gurgi, there are cute little fairies at one point, and even the hideously deformed and evil Horned King has a cute comical sidekick.

On the other hand, the Horned King is a terrifying villain who looks almost satanic. There's a gruesome zombie army at one point and, if I'm not wrong, the only suicide ever committed by a Disney character. It's some pretty heavy stuff.

The Black Cauldron just couldn't find an audience and the bad word of mouth sank this movie. Perhaps if the story had been better or if it had just been aimed strictly for adults or strictly for children, it might have amounted to something more than a red blot on Disney's financial record.

Needless to say, Disney buried this movie for almost 15 years before allowing it a release as a "Disney Masterpiece". Of course, considering they also labeled The Aristocats a masterpiece doesn't say much for that classification.

The Black Cauldron isn't a horrible movie, but it's not that engrossing or exciting either. If anything, it's an interesting throwback to a desperate time for a studio that often made a name for itself for playing it safe. The animation is dingy and dull, the story's not overly wonderful, and some of the characters are just annoying.

Still, it's an interesting film... for no better reason than watching the direction Disney was willing to take when its back was up against the wall. One must wonder how that studio might have proceeded if it had been a hit.


Taran is an assistant pig keeper with dreams of becoming a warrior. He gets his wish unknowingly when he is assigned to what appears a simple task of guarding an oracul pig named Hen Wen. Hen Wen is kidnapped by an evil lord known as the Horned King with hopes Hen will show him the way to mystical The Black Cauldron. The Black Cauldron will allow the Horned King to unleash a giant army of undead soldiers onto the earth. In Taran's adventure he becomes acquainted with a stubborn princess, a windbag harpist, and a peculiar creature called Gurgi. Taran, and his associates, will try to save the world from the Horned Kin while face witches, encountering fairies, mercenaries, and has to learn to deal with the Cauldron itself. Taran will need to learn the meaning of being a true hero and the values that come along with it.

"Munchy crunch in here somewhere."

The Black Cauldron has a very strong Lord of the Rings feel to it. Even the ending, which involves self-sacrifice is very similar to the ending of The Lord of the Rings. In addition, Gurgi quickly reminded me, with his voice and ambitions, of Gollum. That is, if Gollum was a good guy. The Black Cauldron is a very dark Disney movie, maybe the darkest. That is probably why it does not get the recognition of other Disney films. It is every bit as entertaining as the Dumbo's, Fox and the Hounds, and Lady and the Tramps that came out. Since The Black Cauldron lacks singing, it is removed from that category.

"I wish I'd stayed a toad."

The Black Cauldron was released in 1985. The Black Cauldron has a very strong science fiction feel to it. The ferries that Taran runs into under ground reminded me a lot of the smurf's, which were big in the mid 80's. The Horned King reminded me very much of Skeletor from He-Man. The Black Cauldron has a strong 80's feel to it, where most Disney films feel very universal.

The Black Cauldron is an entertaining movie. I would agree it is perhaps not as good as Sword in the Stone, Jungle Book, or Robin Hood. I still enjoy watching The Black Cauldron despite its detractors. The above-mentioned movies may be an A or an A+, then The Black Cauldron is an A-.

Grade: A-
The Black Cauldron is quite an interesting film. It is probably the darkest animated Disney film, too scary for the really young people, but for those the right's a treat.

The animation is about groundbreaking, combining many real world elements and special effects into the film, giving it quite a supernatural feel. However, the voice cast is realy quite good, and the story is excellent.

For anyone between 9-12.
Nicely animated, ambitious Disney effort. It woerks to a degree. Good story.
Liked it more than I thought I would

I did not see this film until it came on DVD.

I was surprised because it was better than I thought it would be.

Gurgi was a fun character, although not honest to begin with.

The Horned King was a great villain.

Taran & the Princess did NOTHING for me though. Boring, did not care.
Here's Part 2, and I definitely have more to say about the films hanging out in this bunch.

As Tim Burton's labor of love, Big Fish represents the director's maturation of sorts. Burton successfully tackles grown-up issues while retaining his whimsy and child-like imagination.

As for Billy Elliot, I had completely forgotten just how much I love the film. I was so sure when I first watched the film (and still am, by the way) that Jamie Bell was going to be a big star. Though he hasn't yet fulfilled my prophecy, he has done well in Nicholas Nickelby and Peter Jackson's King Kong. Anyway, back to Billy Elliot. As we follow Billy through his journey to become a dancer, we fall in love with both him and his plight. Fighting both the limitations of class and family prejudices, Billy ultimately achieves his dream and wins over our hearts in the process.

Disney's The Black Cauldron is often looked at as a dark spot on the company's animated feature resume. Though the film does lack some key plot points, it is, nonetheless, an entertaining adaptation of Lloyd Alexander's Chronicle of Prydain series. A great movie to watch when you're snowed in (as I was when it's turn arrived alphabetically.)

All I can say about Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights is that the film could have benefited from about a half-an-hour cut towards the end of the story. Though I understand its necessity, the film's ending does start to drag on a bit as Dirk Diggler and company move into the 1980s. Despite Nights' shortcomings, Mark Wahlberg morphed into a bonafied movie star because of this movie, and rightly so. He took a role that could have been campy and provided an excellently layered performance.

And that's all I have to say about those movies. (Oh, yeah, Braveheart is still as good as it always was even though Mel Gibson's kinda gone crazy.)
Good animation, Plot is boring. this had more promise than any disney movie for me and it fell flat.
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