The Sword in the Stone (1963) Poster

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T.H. White would be proud
caspian19781 January 2001
The 90 minute cartoon is in fact the first chapter of T.H. White's novel The Once and Future King. Made for the kids, Disney does it again taking a classic story and adding fictional animal characters that can talk. Still, Disney remains loyal to the story by keeping many of the characters in the story including Kay, Sr. Pellinoire, and Sir Ector.

Worth watching twice with the family. An animated classic
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For every laugh, there should be a tear
c-corleis22 January 2006
This movie is another proof of the high quality of the classic Disney films. Today feature films are quite funny too... but they based mostly on simple, crude jokes and spoofing of other topical movies (remember the bullet time-spoof in "Shrek"). There is no substance to think about in it. You can see them, laughing about them...and forgot them almost completely a few years later. Who will remember, i.e., "Ice Age" or "Madagascar" in 40, 50 or 60 years? The old Disney classics are different, there are timeless! "The Sword in the Stone" contains a lot of joyful gags too, but no gag stands above the characters, no joke was made only to fill a hole in the plot. The story, the plot, and the characters are primary. And Disney add not only joyful gags. As Walt himself once said: "For every laugh, there should be a tear." Disney take children always quite seriously, and a lot of his early films contains a lesson for life, sometimes the lesson can be very sad and cruel, like in "Bambi", sometimes lesser sad, like in "The Sword in the Stone"... but can anybody forget the cute little girl squirrel, that was left by Wart, desperately crying and with a broken heart? And Merlin's closing words about love: "Well, yes, in its own way... yes, I'd say it's the most powerful force on Earth"!

This is one of the main ingredient of the famous Disney Magic: Joy and tragedy! Another is the art of hand drawn animation. The quality of the animation went downwards at Disney after WW-II too, slowly, but surely. But in 1963 cel-animation was still on a high level. Not so good as in the golden Era, when "Fantasia", "Pinocchio" or especially "Bambi" set the utmost high standards of perfectionism, but quite better than in "Hercules", "The Lion King" or "The Rescuers down under". 7 of 10 stars for "The Sword in the Stone"! It is not the best of all Disney films, but quite better and deeper than the most of the modern CGI movies!
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Probably the most underrated of all the Disneys
TheLittleSongbird26 February 2009
The Sword and the Stone is a very relaxing movie to watch. In an animation, you want humour and emotion, and this movie had plenty of both. Most of the humour comes from Sir Ektor(voice of Sebastian Cabot) and Archimedes (voice of Junius Matthews), but Merlin (voice of Karl Swenson) had some truly delicious lines. I just love Archimedes, he is absolutely hilarious, and still manages to be likable, despite being very grumpy. The animation was lovely, and the scenes when Wart (voice of Ricky Sorenson)was an animal were truly entertaining. My personal favourite was the squirrel scene, but the duel of Merlin and Mim was the highlight of the film for me. The songs by the Sherman Brothers, while not particularly memorable, were very pleasant to listen to, as was the incidental music by the composer of the Jungle Book George Bruns. All in all, a truly enjoyable movie, that is definitely underrated. 9/10 from me. Bethany Cox
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maybe not one of the 'great' Disney films, but it is quite the entertainer
Quinoa198410 January 2006
I used to watch the Sword in the Stone quite a number of times as a kid, and I know why later on in my years. It's actually quite a fun little movie considering its a quasi-history lesson on how Arthur (aka 'Wart') became King of England. It includes Merlin, and his 'educated Owl' Archamedes, and a whole lot of wacky adventures trying to get Arthur, who can't read or write, into a mode of thought higher than how he's been raised. For a Disney film, as well, it's also quite the quotable film at times, with some lines and situations still sticking out in my mind years later. For example, the sequence involving Arthur and Merlin as squirrels in the trees, and a small lesson in love (or lack thereof) a lady squirrel presents in the face of danger. Or the story involving Arthur as a bird, trapped in the clutches of Madamn Mim (maybe one of the funniest sequences in any Disney movie).

So, as one can figure from what I've described (if you haven't seen the film yet), it's fairly over-the-top, loaded with silly-songs (one of which a true charmer involving Merlin's proclivity for organizing a packing up of his house) and little lessons for kids. But it actually is also funny for adults too, I'd guess, or at least funny to watch along with the kids. It may not be in the absolute peek of the period in Disney films (one may try to look to the Jungle Book or Winnie the Pooh for that, or the underrated Aristocats), however I sometimes come back to this film in my mind. It has a catchy attitude that made being in the 'dark ages' as fun as possible- Archamedes in particular is maybe one of the great side-characters in any Disney film.

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For every laugh there should be a tear
Atreyu_II13 July 2007
The 18th animated Disney classic is among the most hilarious of all time. It was never very popular, which is too bad, because it deserves to be more known. However, like other forgotten Disney classics, it has been winning a legion of fans with time.

"The Sword in the Stone" is almost at the same level of the 1960's and 1970's Disney classics when it comes to artwork. It was one of the last movies with the participation of Walt Disney himself.

"The Sword in the Stone" is Disney's version of the famous King Arthur's story. Disney tells this story with its personal touch and classic humor.

I don't know if the Disney version is totally faithful to the real story, but that's not the point.

Arthur, called "Wart" by Sir Ector (his adoptive father) and Kay (Sir Ector's son), is overworked and humiliated by them both. "Wart" is almost like a "Cinderella boy". But despite these problems, he remains optimistic and still dreams about being a great warrior and a knight's squire. Somehow "Wart" was the inspiration for the character Taran from "The Black Cauldron".

In the meantime, he meets the powerful but clumsy and hilarious wizard Merlin, who wants to give him education and culture. Merlin believes that pure strength means nothing when a person has no brain.

Together, Merlin and "Wart" live great adventures, funny moments and Merlin teaches everything he knows to "Wart". We mustn't forget the owl Archimedes too. The owl, as you know, is usually «the fountain of knowledge» on cartoons.

Archimedes is wise, intelligent, clever but also very lazy, very confident, grumpy and has a strong personality. That's what makes him so funny. In fact, both Merlin and Archimedes are a comic relief.

This film might take place in medieval times (which year is unknown). But it is one the funniest Disney classics ever, like "Pinocchio", "Aladdin", "Robin Hood" and "The Aristocats".

It has lots of hilarious moments which can make one get into uncontrollable laughter.

Let me mention some of them: the scenes with Merlin and the Granny Squirrel; the scene when the dishes wash themselves and Sir Ector and Kay get a "bath"; the scene when Kay brutally crashes with the castle's oldest tower; the part when the plane model gets stuck on Merlin's beird and Archimedes laughs so hysterically that he almost can't breathe; that part when Archimedes nearly shrinks inside his little house; the moments with the sugarpot...

I could go on, but it would take forever because there are so many hilarious moments.

The songs are clever and enjoyable, such as "The Sword in the Stone", "That's what makes the world go round" and especially "Higitus Figitus", my personal favorite.

I like this movie and I've gotta say that humor is, without a doubt, the strongest attribute of this movie.

This should definitely be on Top 250.
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Not quite the book, but nice indeed..
Robert-10527 March 1999
This very nice Disney Classic was based on the children's novel by TH White. This was not yet that very well-known, heavy novel titled "the Once and Future King" that so many later movies were based upon, but the lighthearted earlier version. Many agreed that the later novel has disfigured the first, so that we may be thankful for the Disney version!

Though it does not quite follow the book (this is hardly possible, at times) it is a very good version as animated movies go. Not tedious, though of an age where children were meant to learn something from a movie...

A collectors item!
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Not much plot but great for little kids.
gracerebecca21 July 2004
This is one of my all time favorite Disney films. The lyrics of the songs are clever and memorable. Who can forget "Hockety Pockety Wockey Wack?"

The characters are also very entertaining. The idea of Merlin as a clutz is unique to this version of the story. Archimedes also offers several laughs.

Though there isn't much of a plot, the development of character makes this film very entertaining.

My four year old sister loved the film. She has already watched it at least a dozen times, and I only checked it out from the library three days ago. Modern Disney bores her. I've found that young children can't sit through "Beauty and the Beast" or "Mulan." This older style of Disney catches attention and entertains.
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Funny and worth watching
crimson_shapeshifter25 September 2005
I'm really not much of a Disney fan, and a lot of their films I find are sentimental rubbish, to put it bluntly. This, however, is different. I remember watching this when I was little and finding it hilarious. I hadn't watched it for years until recently when my younger siblings borrowed some videos from a friend. I still find it funny. The animation's nothing amazing, it's done more or less in the style of 101 Dalmations, and the storyline is basic King Arthur stuff (but I do like King Arthur stories anyway). It's the humour that really makes it memorable and charming. The characters have personality, there are no bimbo princesses or princes, and I find myself warming greatly to Merlin and Arthur and even grumpy Archimedes. Well worth watching.
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Deserves a higher rating
cantsleepboutique29 November 2019
I consider this a Disney classic. But then again all full length feature animated films while Walt was alive were classics. Of course the reason for that is because of the high standards he set for his animation department. This movie of course is the Disnified version of King Arthur as a boy. Merlin is the real star. I must admit I am a fan of all things Camelot so my rating is biased. This film as measured against Disney animated films made before this one places it in the lower half. Don Bluths influence can be seen in this film. 20 years later he would make a video game called Dragon's Lair (and apparently a feature length film based on this game is going to be released) and that video game has a style you can see in The Sword and The Stone. I gave it a high rating because I feel 7.2 is too low.
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Lowbrow fun
R_O_U_S15 January 2004
This isn't usually counted as being one of the top-ranking Disney films, but I insist on not being snobbish in this list, and remembering the films that brought me joy as a kid. Wart gets to be a squirrel, a bird and a fish during this film which plays fast and loose with Arthurian legend. Merlin is great, and his battle with Madam Mim the stuff of legend. It's not big, it's not clever, but it is fun!
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A lot of fun, but not among Disney's best
RokurotaMakabe8 July 2011
This is Disney's version of the legend of King Arthur and it represents an adaptation of T.H. White's children's story. Here, Arthur is a young boy who is unaware of his great destiny. He meets and befriends the great wizard Merlin who decides to give him a proper instruction and education in order to prepare him for his future.

The film has some great characters: Merlin the wizard and his intellectually trained owl Archimedes are particularly funny. The animation is very good, but this is Disney after all, so you would expect it to be like that. The film is definitely entertaining, but there are a few drawbacks as well. There are moments when it feels a little too similar to Disney's other animated features from that period. The film also incorporates a lot of plot elements from other Disney movies and the film is very predictable at times. In comparison to another Disney classic, "Sleeping Beauty", this film looks more like a secondary project.

"The Sword in the Stone" is nevertheless a good film and it is superior to many of Disney's modern efforts ("Hercules", "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" or "Pocahontas" to name a few). It is very entertaining and definitely worth watching.

My rating: 7/10
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A legendary story. A classic in animation.
Lady_Targaryen14 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
''The Sword in the Stone'''is one of the classics from Disney that I watched when I was a kid and probably the first movie I saw about the Arthur's and Merlin's stories. Wart is a young boy who wants to be a knight's squire. During a hunting trip,Wart meets Merlin, a great and powerful wizard who sees in the boy the chance to give a great education. Wart learns many of the truths of life with Merlin when he become different types of animals. The problem is when Wart makes contact with the evil witch Madam Mim, who will fight against Merlin in a witch/sorceress battle.

Ps:I think it is pretty obvious to say that Wart will pulls the famous sword in the stone out of it, and will become the future King of England, thanks to his good,loyal and brave heart.
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A Disney Classic
dockerykelli4 July 2019
The Sword In The Stone is such a wonderful movie!!! A great cast along with a wonderful storyline!!! It has laughter throughout the entire movie, love, thrilling moments and a wonderful outcome for the film.
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Good, but the magic touch is missing
matlefebvre208 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
"The Sword in the Stone" is the Disney version of the Arthurian legend, adapted from the first of four books by T.H. White telling the life events of the young Arthur, before he became king. It is also the last feature-length animated film from the company of Uncle Walt to be released before he died. In addition, it is the first solo effort of Wolfgang Reitherman who would later direct other great animated movies, such as "The Jungle Book", "The Aristocats", "Robin Hood" and "The Rescuers".

The movie was released in theaters on Christmas day 1963, almost one month to the day after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. This dark moment in American history established a striking and timely parallel with the dark atmosphere prevailing in England as depicted in the animated film.

"The Sword in the Stone" begins by the death of a heir-less king. One night in London, an astral light comes down from the sky and a sword lodged in an anvil itself embed into stone mysteriously appears. On that sword (which will be later known as Excalibur) are inscribed these words: "Whoso pulleth out the sword of this stone and anvil is rightwise king born of England". With nobody being able to accomplish the impossible feat, England remains king-less and the period now known as the Dark Ages begin.

The movie then shifts to the great hero Arthur himself who is only a not-so-smart puny runt nicknamed Wart (Rickie Sorenson). Venturing into the forest, Wart literally falls on the house of the powerful and wise, but absent-minded wizard Merlin (Karl Swenson) who lives there as a hermit with his educated pet owl Archimedes (Junius Matthews).

Merlin, convinced that the young Wart is destined to a great future despite what his physical appearance could reveal, begins to learn him about great life lessons in his fashion by changing him into a fish, a squirrel and a bird.

In general, I'd say that the film is not bad, far from it, but it is also far from being excellent. The plot is generally short and somehow empty, but it also contains some rather useless over-long passages.

But there's absolutely no doubt that this picture has a lot of ambitions and it has things to show to its audience. In fact, "The Sword in the Stone" is one of the most instructive Disney movies for the kids, not only because of the number of lessons that can be learned, but also because of their clarity and their direct character, which make them easy to catch and understand.

But I would have liked to see these lessons more treated on-screen when Wart becomes king. Merlin predicts celebrity and a bright future to the young monarch, but the young boy has no idea how to govern a state. It's at that moment that the learned lessons should have emerged and Merlin should have mentioned them.

After all, Wart's adventures with his mentor brought out the three most important characteristics of a good king: wisdom, love and intelligence. So "The Sword in the Stone" is for kids what Machiavelli's book "The Prince" is for adults.

Unfortunately, even if it's instructive, "The Sword in the Stone" loses points when it comes to the capacity to wonder, astonish and entertain. The animation is often spoiled and the sets are visibly nothing more than static colored paper sheets on which animators make mobile characters streaming in and out. It's a colorful movie, but it doesn't necessarily mean that it is alive.

And yet, the dark atmosphere of the movie is also reflected in the presentation. Some people will say that it's OK since the pictures adequately re-create the era and the society at the time, but let's not forget that we're talking here about a children's movie. In such a case, the dark (and not much cared over) images become depressing, boring and not much enjoyable to watch.

There's also a cruel lack of lively songs, which looks pretty bad for an institution like Disney. The songs go so much unnoticed that it becomes almost impossible to remember their titles.

There are some great moments however. The teaching sessions were Wart becomes an animal, accompanied by either Merlin or Archimedes, are entertaining and they lead to exciting and dangerous moments, where there's no lack of thrills for nobody. The best moment remains the magical duel between Merlin and the witch Madame Mim (Martha Wentworth), where the two opponents ceaselessly change themselves into different animals and give a high-level spectacle of which we are the lucky spectators.

The three main characters are also unforgettable. Wart's psychological evolution is well tangible. We can see at the beginning that he is puny, clumsy and naive, but also full of potential. And as he learns, he finds the courage to confront his adoptive tutor Sir Ector (Sebastian Cabot) and even his powerful teacher Merlin.

The magician himself is presented as somebody who is wise, but also absent-minded, which renders him quite funny. Unfortunately, he often loses himself into his futuristic anticipations, which leads to pathetic anachronisms and uninteresting discussions.

Archimedes is also intelligent and resourceful, but he is also touchy, cynical and often very grumpy. It means that we have as many reasons to like him as we have to hate him. And unlike Merlin, Archimedes prefers to keep both feet on the present ground, rather than thinking about the future.

"The Sword in the Stone" is not one of the greatest movies of Disney's career, but it nevertheless remains an instructive and funny picture, the kind of work that only Walt and his partners can make.
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Disney's take on the life of Arthur before he became king
Tweekums24 July 2019
This Disney film tells the tale of Arthur, a somewhat weedy boy usually referred to as Wart. He is training to become squire to his foster brother when he causes an arrow to be lost; he enters a forest to retrieve it and comes across Merlin the wizard. Merlin determines to educate the lad so returns with him to the castle. As part of his education he transforms him into various animals; a fish, a squirrel and a small bird. Each of these brings different challenges... a menacing pike; an amorous girl squirrel; and a hawk... not to mention the Mad Madam Mim; a witch with powers that rival Merlin's. Finally he accompanies his brother to London where there is to be a contest to find England's new king.

This is an enjoyable animation from Walt Disney; the story may be fairly weak but there are plenty of fun episodes which should appeal to the young and young at heart alike. Apart from a brief mention of the sword in the stone at the start it is just about forgotten about till the film's closing minutes. Instead most of the film is taken up by the animal antics... these are cute and provide both child friendly thrills and laughs. Wart and Merlin, along with Archimedes, Merlin's talking pet owl make good central characters and Mad Madam Mim was a great laugh even though she is only in for a scene or two. As one would expect the animation is great and impressively detailed. Overall this might not be among the very best of Disney's animated films but it is still a lot of fun and well worth watching.
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A Charming take on Arthurian Lore
truemythmedia23 May 2019
This is a different kind of Arthur film, one that doesn't focus on his great deeds as a king, but one that focuses on him as a child, when he was not yet king, but a poor boy, nicknamed Wart, with aspirations of being a squire. The situation we find our protagonist in at the beginning is much the same as the situation at the beginning of Cinderella's story: an orphaned child, taken in by someone (in this case, Sir Ector mentions that he is the boy's foster father) who doesn't really appreciate him or her for what the orphan can hope to become. Wart is forced to do chores and clean up after his older foster brother, Sir Kay. Wart doesn't complain or throw fits because of his chores; he does them diligently and he's generally pretty well behaved. But when he meets Merlin, the wizard begins to fill Wart's head with notions of what he might become. This is the story of Arthur learning the basics of what it would take to be king. This film is a classic, and I'm not going to be one to tell you any differently. It still holds up today, fifty-five years after its release, and it's certainly more entertaining than Reitherman's "Robin Hood". Kids today should see this film; it's full of wondrous adventures, but it still teaches them important lessons that resonate even half a century later. It is, in that sense, truly timeless.
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An absolute classic for the ages
emilyhome-8981510 May 2019
While this movie has very little to do with the sword in the stone until the end, I still thoroughly enjoyed it the whole way through. The characters are charming (especially Merlin, a batty, eccentric but wise mentor towards Arthur), the plot is enjoyable and I love how there was no major "quest" in this movie but rather a series of whimsical and important lessons taught to Arthur mostly from animal transformations. The artwork and animation in this movie is fantastically fluid, considering when this film was made. I found myself laughing at times, and crying in others, because while their is an amazing amount of fun and witty humour in the film, there are also scenes that have you feeling for the characters, which is something that not a lot of movies are able to balance out these days. Overall, this film was simply beautiful to look at, and easily enjoyable to watch. Every scene is a gem, and I truly believe it was a film that had definitely been ahead of it's time. 9.5/10
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Stone cold
Lejink16 April 2011
Pleasant Disney animation, without being a classic. It has its moments, particularly the magic-fight between Merlin and Mim, but is light on characterisation and especially good songs. The soundtrack tunes are very simplistic both melodically and especially lyrically and resolutely refuse to stay in your brain.

The narrative itself is unusual, introducing the sword in the stone legend immediately and then dispensing with it until the last five minutes or so, concentrating its energies instead on young Arthur (read Wort) and his upbringing by the kindly Merlin and his obstinate talking owl Archimedes.

I kept seeing recollections of past Disney (and other) cartoon forebears, everything from, naturally enough the Sorcerer's Apprentice from "Fantasia" and "Cinderella" while the chasing wolf early on is a blatant lift of Wile E Coyote in the "Road Runner" shorts. The old Disney trick of an experienced elder mentoring a young innocent had of course been done before in "Pinocchio" and "The Jungle Book" although I could also see some ideas which were adapted in future projects, the animated crockery anticipates "Beauty and the Beast" for instance.

Disney never did return to the Arthurian Legnd in future animations as was hinted might happen here which is a pity but for me there's far too much diversion from the legend itself so that I was willing young Arthur to hurry up and give the sword the required pull long before the ending, which when it does arrive seems far too rushed in any case.

No, not the best Disney by a long way and certainly not in the vanguard of the studio's work.
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A Disney film not to be missed!
Smells_Like_Cheese23 June 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I cannot believe I never wrote a comment on The Sword in the Stone, my friends always joke how I'm the ultimate Mickey Mouse since I'm such a fan and I own every Disney movie on DVD. I wanted to watch one of my movies last night and I picked The Sword in the Stone and rediscovered how much I loved this movie when I was a kid and still love it today. I went on IMDb to see if I gave the appropriate rating, but I was surprised to see that I never did write about it, but I guess better late then never. Sword in the Stone is just a classic treasure that no family should be without but also the film lovers. A wonderful classic story told Disney style and filled with great songs and beautiful animation, how could anyone not fall in love with The Sword in the Stone.

The "Sword in the Stone" appears in London, with an inscription proclaiming that "Who so Pulleth Out This Sword of this Stone and Anvil, is Rightwise King Born of England." None succeed in removing the sword, which is soon forgotten, leaving England in a Dark Age. Some years later, Arthur aka "Wart", a 12-year-old orphan training to be a squire. While accompanying his older foster brother Kay on a hunting trip. He falls into Merlin's cottage, Merlin declares himself Wart's tutor and the two return to Wart's home, a castle run by Sir Ector, Arthur's foster father. There Merlin stays with Arthur to teach him the ways of the world and the magic as well as the intelligence and strength he will need for his true destiny.

I think my favorite moment of this film is definitely the battle between Merlin and Mim, since this is one of the rare Disney movies that doesn't have a definitive villain, but I think Mim was a close as you could get. Their battle was epic and absolutely amazing to watch, plus I love the classic sound effects with good old slap stick humor. Also I loved the story when Merlin turned Arthur and himself into squirrels and they were attacked by the lady squirrels was just too cute for words. I know the animation isn't up to par with today's standards, but this is the exact animation that I loved growing up with because the animators seemed to have a love for the film they were making.

The Sword in the Stone is a classic Disney film that should never be missed and I can't wait to show my children one day. Disney always had a way of taking classic stories that may not interest a small child and puts action, adventure, romance and wonderful animation into it and made it come to life. I can't believe I hadn't watched this movie since I was a kid, because no film lover should be without this treasure, it's just so excellent and magical, takes you back to a simpler time where we were destined for greatness and the world was at our fingertips.

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A different Disney film - UNDERRATED!!
Mightyzebra28 July 2008
This is another one of those animated Disney films, it is another one of those underrated ones and it is based on the book by T.H White: "Sword in the Stone". This is different from quite any of the Disney classics in the fact that (if I am wrong here, I do apologize): it has time travel subtly intertwined among the rest of the film. It is underrated, to put it plainly, because: IT IS A VERY GOOD FILM!! :-) This film is not completely similar to the book by T.H White, but the changes that Disney made are pretty understandable, otherwise this film would last roughly four hours (L.O.L) and it would not be completely suitable for young children. As it is, this Disney film is good for people of any age!! :-)

What I like about this film is the characters, the way the makers formed the plot, the songs (which consist of two, which is a little too few) and the humour (which comes predominately from Merlin).

As you may have realised, this film is one of many interpretations of the story of King Arthur. Here, Arthur does not pull the sword out of the stone until the very end and it is mostly about him learning of the world with Merlin.

I recommend this to anyone who likes Disney films, of all ages, very well worth watching! Enjoy "Sword in the Stone"! :-)
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Great Animation
on_the_can6 July 2008
I only had very vague recollections of this movie until I watched it again just recently and I've decided this is kind of an underrated film.

I'm not all that familiar with the original story of the Sword in the Stone aside from the obvious more famous bits but I imagine the story guys on this movie took a lot of liberties. When it comes right down to it the plot is little more than a lot of fluff to fill running time until Arthur AKA Wart gets to the sword. Fluff or not though the film's entertaining enough and allows for the great animation that I found to be the stand out quality here.

I'm an animator myself so maybe this means more to me than the average audience, but the character animation on Merlin and Madam Mim can easily go head to head with Disney's more highly regarded classics and the use of effects is remarkable (in classical animation, effects refer to any animation that's not a character i.e. water, smoke, fire, dust etc.) Everything from rain storms to pixy dust is masterly handled and adds a whole layer of wonder to the whole thing. The highlight for me was a showdown between Merlin and Mim in which they morph into a variety of creatures to battle one another and no morph looks the same twice.

This is just light hearted entertainment. It's definitely geared more for kids but if you're an animation fan it's worth watching for that alone.
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Nothing like the great book by T.H. White, and nowhere near the quality of other Disney classics
antagonist11720 June 2013
Warning: Spoilers
The book "The Sword in the Stone" by T.H. White is a trove of wisdom for children and adults, and a paean of love to medieval England, but virtually none of the best material from the novel finds its way to the screen in this soulless adaptation. Most Disney classics are like stepping into a fantasy storybook, but this is little more than a cheap cartoon. Something meaningful could have been made of Arthur's encounter with an amorous squirrel (this occurs while he himself is in the body of a squirrel), something akin to the beautiful and literary swan episode in White's book. But while there is a hint of real emotion in the film's squirrel scene, it is largely overshadowed by meaningless back-and-forths between Merlin's own squirrel avatar and a husky female of the species. This is representative of the movie's many missed opportunities, and its preference for slapstick over reflection.
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invisibleunicornninja17 April 2018
This is just a load of charming entertainment for young kids. There are few low points in this movie. The animation is great. The story is entertaining. I would highly recommend watching this movie.
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MyNeighborFanboy8 October 2010
When it comes to classic Disney, The Sword in the Stone is usually overlooked compared to other sixties releases. Not one character here has had the kind of iconography many of Disney's characters have, with the possible exception of Merlin. There are no classic villains and the conflict is pretty loose and undeveloped. Despite all this, I think the film deserves a bit more love than it typically gets. It's not a great Disney movie, but it's a solid one with scenes of real note.

Nevertheless, Disney's influence is notably more scattershot in this film than in any of the previous ones. This is bad when your movie is dealing with the coming of age of King Arthur of all people. Our Arthur in this tale is too damn cute for us to really buy his potential, and Merlin, though great fun, seems like just about the worst teacher you could possibly hand a student to (one of his lessons seems to be to always use magic to fudge your chores...brilliant). The various episodes generally don't add up to much of anything other than chase scenes and slapstick comedy. Considering we're dealing with an older character than Pinocchio, it's just too bad that Pinocchio had to deal with much more hellish and sobering obstacles than does Wart.

If, however, we forget that this isn't a great narrative and focus on the individual bits, there's some fun to be had. Design wise, it's not One Hundred and One Dalmations but it's still loaded with some great stylized visuals and colors. Milt Kahl gets to do some straight cartooning with Merlin, and succeeds quite spectacularly, particularly in his use of hands (animators take note...Kahl was a master of that hard-to-draw limb). There's another great example of slapstick in Brian Sibley's wolf character, who is completely useless and might as well have been taken out altogether but is so inventively utilized that I don't mind him at all. I think the same of Madame Mim, who again serves a pretty dubious purpose (remember, young Wart, if someone insults you...shoot magic at them) but on her own terms is very entertaining.

However, I do not have this complaint with the squirrel sequence, which is one of the best scenes in any Disney movie. Not only is it a masterful example of boarding and animation working together, it actually manages to balance some good physical comedy with a poignant that Merlin's other lessons could stand to incorporate. Frank Thomas did most of this scene, and it's a great example of difficult motions handled with a strong sense of weight (one animator associate of mine played it on his ipod while doing some work, and when I pointed out how much I liked that scene he responded with "Yes, it' beautiful," before tearing up. I wouldn't go quite that far...) Really, though, it's a shame we couldn't have gotten a ballsier version of this story. There's just not much to it. When Merlin leaves at the end, we shrug our shoulders and wonder why it should matter. Wart doesn't learn anything really, except in a few instances. The movie's quite watchable, but little else. Oddly, I think the transformation scenes must have influenced some of Osamu Tezuka's work (like Buddha) but he was much more forceful with how this pertained to character growth. If Sword in the Stone had done the same, it might have been another great and unusual Disney movie, rather than a somewhat tepid collection of solid scenes. Still, I'd consider it underrated on this level.
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Not One of the Better Disney Movies
uroshnor5411 April 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I can't say I loved this movie. It was kind of fun but there were a lot of things that could have been better. I'm not complaining that it's unfaithful to the book, though, since I haven't read the book. But there were quite a few things that I didn't like.

The main thing I didn't like was how Merlin taught Wart life lessons only through turning him into animals. I mean, he's a powerful sorcerer, right? So why not do something else? Okay, maybe one animal transformation would have been alright. If he just turned Wart into a bird and that was it and there were two other different things, I think it would have been alright. I mean, why not take Wart to Mars or something? Why not shrink him down to the size of an atom? Anyway, the part with the squirrels was just a bit awkward and went on far too long.

And another thing I didn't like was how Merlin just conveniently got so angry with Wart (for wanting to go to the tournament) that he goes to Bermuda (in the future). The reason for this is pretty obvious. Just before the climax of the movie, Wart forgets Sir Kay's sword in the inn in which they are staying. Wart goes to retrieve it but the door is locked. THIS is the practical reason why Merlin goes away (the in-story reason is that he gets very angry, of course, which is just not very believable). It would look very silly if a powerful wizard was unable to open a locked door.

Still, I thought THE SWORD IN THE STONE was okay. It's definitely not terrible. Merlin and Archimedes are pretty cool.It's pacing is slow but it's still kind of fun to watch.
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