I remember watching this 1963 Disney effort a number of times during my childhood in the '90s (like I did with several other Disney films I saw, whether they came before or after Walt Disney's death in 1966), so, like most of them, I obviously quite enjoyed it. I've revisited a number of Disney flicks I saw as a kid within the past couple years, but it wasn't until last night that I finally got around to revisiting "The Sword in the Stone", probably for the first time since sometime back in the day. Yes, I may have enjoyed it slightly more as a kid, but revisiting it after all these years certainly didn't leave me sorely disappointed.
In England long ago, after the king dies, a sword in a stone appears, with a message on it saying, "Who so pulleth out this sword of this stone and anvil is rightwise King born of England." Sadly, nobody succeeds in pulling out the sword, so it is soon forgotten, and England goes on without a king. After this, England is in a state of anarchy, and a wizard named Merlin, who lives in a forest with a talking owl named Archimedes, knows that an unknown guest of some significance will drop in soon, a boy around eleven or twelve years old. This boy turns out to be Arthur (a.k.a. Wart), an orphan who lives in the castle of Sir Ector, and hopes to become the squire for his boorish foster brother, Sir Kay. However, Merlin sees that Arthur can get farther in life with more education (which the boy doesn't have a lot of), so he begins to educate him by using his magical powers to turn him into different types of creatures and taking him on adventures. However, during the process, Arthur sometimes finds himself in more trouble, and things may not quite go the way Merlin originally thought.
Unsurprisingly, this film features some fine animation. I was particularly impressed with some of the forest backgrounds. There's also a lot of humour to be found, especially with Merlin and some of his frustrations, tricks, etc. The humour in the film starts very quickly as soon as Merlin appears and has trouble with the well outside. After that, the character provides many more laughs, such as when he makes the dishes wash themselves to music as they float through the air (which really freaks Sir Ector out when he sees it, and leads to some funny slapstick) the part where he and Arthur are squirrels and a Granny Squirrel won't leave Merlin alone, etc. Some of these I found to be hilarious! Archimedes can also be humorous with his bitter, obnoxious demeanor, and certain other characters sometimes add humour as well, such as an evil witch named Madam Mim who appears in a segment later in the film. Aside from the humour, there are also some moments of suspense, such as the sequence with Merlin and Madam Mim going head to head in a dangerous competition with their magic, as well as some fairly sad or touching moments.
Of all the full-length animated motion pictures Walt Disney produced in his career, "The Sword in the Stone" is certainly not one of the most widely recognized. Without a doubt, it is by no means as popular as "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", "Pinocchio", "Peter Pan", "One Hundred and One Dalmatians", and others widely hailed as classics. However, that doesn't mean it's a bad one. It may be a tad different from most Disney films, and not exactly one of the best, but with the merits I found in it, I think it's a tad too overlooked, and deserves more attention, so if you haven't seen it, you might want to if you want a humorous telling of the story of King Arthur's beginnings, based on the book by T.H. White. At any rate, it's definitely better than the last King Arthur movie I watched, 1995's "A Kid in King Arthur's Court", a somewhat cheesy and forgettable live action Disney flick which deserves its significant lack of recognition.
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