I had never seen this next Disney film before...I don't think I'd even heard of it until I was making the list of films. It's The Black Cauldron. If you're like me and aren't familiar with the movie, here's a brief summary: there's a bad guy called the Horned King. He wants to get hold of this magical black cauldron because it will help him form an army of undead warriors. There's a young pig-keeper named Taran who gets caught up in this mess and decides to try to destroy the cauldron himself before the Horned King finds it.
First of all, here are some random facts about The Black Cauldron. It's not a musical, which is very unusual for Disney films up to this point! Most of them have at least one or two songs, but this one only has a score. It was the first Disney film to receive a PG rating and also the first Disney movie to use some CGI in the animation. Finally, at the time of its release, it was not only the most expensive animated film ever made, but tied with a couple of others for the most expensive film ever made. But it was such a box office bomb that Disney didn't even release it on home video until 13 years later.
When I look back over the notes that I took while watching this movie, the words "weird," "no sense," and "strange" come up a lot. :)
The strangest thing to me was the importance of the pig, Hen Wen. You see, Hen Wen is a pig who has...special abilities? She can look into a pool of water and sort of see the future and other things. So she can see where the black cauldron is, and the Horned King wants to use her to help find it. Apparently this movie was loosely based on some books, which is the only reason why I can think of them using a pig. She's not a talking pig...she's just a pig. So it seems really random for her to have these powers. I just felt like it would have been better if she had been a human. I understand that Taran doesn't want the Horned King to get her because he'll use her powers to find the cauldron. But there are some parts of the film where he's being all emotional and protective over her and it just feels weird. If she had been a little child or something, it would have been a lot more moving and important for her to be saved. Taran probably eats bacon or ham for breakfast every morning, so why is he so attached to this pig?
There weren't a lot of voice actors that I recognized in this film, but there are two interesting ones. John Hurt (yes, the War Doctor for you Doctor Who fans) is the voice of the Horned King. And the voice of the narrator was famous director John Huston.
Speaking of the Horned King, he was pretty creepy. Though I think he was creepier when you just saw shadowy glimpses of him, because your imagination is usually worse than the actual thing, you know? When I saw all of him, he lost some of his creepy factor.
I have to mention Gurgi, a weird little creature that becomes fairly important to the plot later on. He was basically a mixture of Stitch (from Lilo & Stitch) and Gollum. I couldn't get over how much he reminded me of a slightly less creepy Gollum! His voice, phrases he would use, his movements, everything. It makes me wonder if the LOTR film-makers were somehow inspired by him? Gurgi isn't meant to be bad, and in fact he acts rather heroic at times, but I just couldn't bring myself to like him very much because he reminded me of Gollum.
The character Fflewddur Fflam made me smile and added a bit of humor to an otherwise surprisingly dark and violent film (dark and violent for Disney, anyway).
While this was definitely a strange movie, I ended up liking it. It held my interest, and I liked the old-fashioned English setting (similar to The Sword in the Stone or Robin Hood). It's not a new favorite, but out of the Disney movies that I've seen for the first time during this series, it's probably in my top five or six.
Have you ever seen The Black Cauldron? What did you think of it?