Few people are familiar with the 1985 Disney film The Black Cauldron, and that isn’t very surprising. It’s a film that in many ways Disney wishes people would forget existed. The film was made during what is often referred to as “The Dark Age” in Disney history, the time, in between Walt Disney’s death and the release of The Little Mermaid, when Disney Animation was really struggling to make successful animated films. Suitably, The Black Cauldron is often considered one of Disney’s darkest and scariest animated films. Nevertheless, I strongly suggest watching the film, which is based on the fantasy children’s book series The Chronicle of Prydain, because it is the focus of my next article.
Despite it’s obscurity, I personally have very fond childhood memories of The Black Cauldron. My family owned it on VHS and I used to watch it all the time, until we switched over to DVDs and could never manage to find a new copy of the film. Yet, I never forgot Disney’s “forgotten” film and always thought of it fondly. About a year ago I bought a digital copy of the film, and I was very excited to watch it and relive some childhood memories. Unfortunately, as we often discover, some films that we remember enjoying as a child, don’t exactly hold up in adulthood, and The Black Cauldron was one of those. It isn’t the worst film Disney ever made, but it has some issues with its story, characters, animation, and editing. These reasons are probably why the film never really connected with audiences and didn’t become an instant classic when it was released. Believe it or not, Disney animators had high hopes for The Black Cauldron, which was the studios 25th animated feature. They believed that it would be the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs of the new generation.
So for my next article I will look at the making of The Black Cauldron , both it’s potential to be a great film with beautiful visuals and an edgy story, and the mistakes in writing, character design, and editing that lead to it becoming one of Disney’s forgotten failures. So join me in a few weeks to discover the truth of what really went wrong during the making of The Black Cauldron.
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