World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

The Black Cauldron (film)

Article Id: WHEBN0000805496
Reproduction Date:

Title: The Black Cauldron (film)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: List of fictional witches, The Great Mouse Detective, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Gary Trousdale, Andreas Deja
Collection: 1980S Adventure Films, 1980S American Animated Films, 1980S Fantasy Films, 1985 Animated Films, American Adventure Films, American Children's Fantasy Films, American Coming-of-Age Films, American Films, Animated Fantasy Films, Dark Fantasy Films, Disney Animated Features Canon, Fairies and Sprites in Popular Culture, Fictional Princesses, Film Scores by Elmer Bernstein, Films Based on American Novels, Films Based on Children's Books, Films Based on Multiple Works, Films Directed by Richard Rich, Films Featuring Anthropomorphic Characters, Films Set in the Middle Ages, High Fantasy Films, Sword and Sorcery Films, The Chronicles of Prydain, Video Games Developed in the United States, Walt Disney Pictures Films, Witchcraft in Film
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

The Black Cauldron (film)

The Black Cauldron
Original theatrical release poster
Directed by Ted Berman
Richard Rich
Produced by Joe Hale
Ron Miller
Story by Ted Berman
Vance Gerry
Joe Hale
David Jonas
Roy Morita
Richard Rich
Art Stevens
Al Wilson
Peter Young
Based on The Book of Three and
The Black Cauldron by
Lloyd Alexander
Narrated by John Huston
Music by Elmer Bernstein
Edited by Armetta Jackson
James Koford
James Melton
Distributed by Buena Vista Distribution
Release dates
  • July 24, 1985 (1985-07-24)[1]
Running time
80 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $44 million[2][3]
Box office $21.3 million[1]

The Black Cauldron (also known as Taran and the Magic Cauldron) is a 1985 American animated dark fantasy adventure film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures. The 25th film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics, it is loosely based on the first two books in The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander, a series of five novels which in turn is based on Welsh mythology.

Set in the mythical land of Prydain during the dark ages, the film centers on the evil Horned King who hopes to secure an ancient magical cauldron and rule the world with its aid. He is opposed by a young pig keeper named Taran, Princess Eilonwy, the bard Fflewddur Fflam, and a wild creature named Gurgi who seek to prevent him from ruling the world by destroying the cauldron.

The film is directed by Ted Berman and Richard Rich, who had directed Disney's previous animated film The Fox and the Hound in 1981, the final Disney animated film to be recorded in RCA Photophone. It features the voices of Grant Bardsley, Susan Sheridan, Freddie Jones, Nigel Hawthorne, John Byner, and John Hurt. It was the first Disney animated film to receive a PG rating as well as the first Disney animated film to incorporate the use of computer-generated imagery.[4] The film was released theatrically by Buena Vista Distribution on July 24, 1985 to mixed critical reviews and was a box office bomb. Disney released the film for the first time on home video in 1998.


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Production 3
    • Revision and editing 3.1
  • Soundtrack 4
    • Composition 4.1
    • Original release 4.2
    • Re-release 4.3
    • Critical response 4.4
    • Release history 4.5
  • Release 5
    • Marketing 5.1
    • Box office performance 5.2
    • Critical reception 5.3
  • Home media 6
  • Theme parks 7
  • Video game 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


In the land of Prydain, Taran is an "assistant pig-keeper" on the small farm of Caer Dallben, home of Dallben the Enchanter. Dallben learns that the Horned King is searching for a mystical relic known as the Black Cauldron, which is capable of creating an invincible army of undead warriors, the “Cauldron Born”. Dallben fears the Horned King may try to steal his pig Hen Wen, which has oracular powers, and use her to locate the cauldron. Dallben directs Taran to take Hen Wen to safety; unfortunately, Taran's daydreaming causes Hen Wen to be captured by the Horned King's forces.

Taran follows them to the Horned King's stronghold. Along the way, he encounters the small, pestering companion Gurgi, who joins Taran on his search. Taran leaves Gurgi to sneak into the castle and rescues Hen Wen, who flees, but all too soon he is finally captured himself and thrown into the dungeon. A fellow captive, Princess Eilonwy, frees Taran as she is trying to make her own escape. In the catacombs beneath the castle, Taran and Eilonwy discover the ancient burial chamber of a king, where he arms himself with the king's sword. It contains magic that allows him to effectively fight the Horned King's minions and so to fulfill his dream of heroism. Along with a third captive, the comical, middle-aged bard Fflewddur Fflam, they escape the castle and are soon reunited with Gurgi.

Following Hen Wen's trail, the four stumble into the underground kingdom of the

  • Official website
  • The Black Cauldron at Disney Archives
  • The Black Cauldron at AllMovie
  • The Black Cauldron at the Big Cartoon DataBase
  • The Black Cauldron at the Internet Movie Database
  • The Black Cauldron at Rotten Tomatoes
  • The Black Cauldron at Box Office Mojo
  • The Black Cauldron (video game) at MobyGames
  • The Black Cauldron (point and click video game remake) at SCIprogramming
  • "Why For did Disney's "The Black Cauldron" fail to connect with audiences back in 1985?" (2010) at Jim Hill Media
  • Black Cauldron, or Cauldron of Chaos at Memories of the House of Mouse by animator Michael Peraza (

External links

  1. ^ a b c d e "The Black Cauldron (1985)".  
  2. ^ a b  
  3. ^ a b Hartlaub, Peter (March 26, 2010). "'"Review: 'Waking Sleeping Beauty. SFGate. Archived from the original on April 20, 2013. Retrieved September 7, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Kois, Dan (October 19, 2010). "Revisiting The Black Cauldron, the Movie That Almost Killed Disney Animation". Slate. Archived from the original on January 17, 2012. Retrieved September 6, 2015. 
  5. ^ Blowen, Michael (August 3, 1985). "`Black Cauldron` A Brew Of Vintage Disney Animation".  
  6. ^ Ollie Johnston - an interview, part 1 (in Norwegian). Interview with Jo Jürgens. 1996. 
  7. ^ - The Black Cauldron
  8. ^ Maltin, Leonard (1995). The Disney Films (3rd ed.). Hyperion Books. p. 286.  
  9. ^ a b "Cauldron of Chaos, PART 3 - Ink and Paint Club: Memories of the House of Mouse". Peraza, Michael. Retrieved February 20, 2012. 
  10. ^ a b c d e Stewart, James B. (2005).  
  11. ^ a b c d "Filmtracks: The Black Cauldron (Elmer Bernstein)".  
  12. ^ "Intrada Records: The Black Cauldron".  
  13. ^ Ankeny, Jason.  – Elmer Bernstein"The Black Cauldron".  
  14. ^ "The Black Cauldron"Review: . Filmtracks Publications. November 1, 1996. Retrieved July 30, 2012. 
  15. ^ Goodman, Walter (July 26, 1985). "'"Screen: Disney's 'Black Cauldron.  
  16. ^ a b Hill, Jim (February 9, 2006). The Black Cauldron" : What went wrong""". Jim Hill Media. Retrieved August 14, 2015. 
  17. ^ a b  
  18. ^
  19. ^ Crew Picture The Balck Cauldron [sic]. Upload to Creative Talent Network blog.
  20. ^ "The Black Cauldron". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 17, 2011. 
  21. ^
  22. ^ Solomon, Charles (July 24, 1985). "CAULDRON is a treat for kidvid-sore eyes". Los Angeles Times ( 
  23. ^ Peretta, Don (2008). "The Black Cauldron". In Pym, John. Time Out Film Guide 2009 (17th ed.). Time Out Group Ltd. p. 104.  
  24. ^ Johnston, Ollie; Frank Thomas (1993). The Disney Villain. New York: Hyperion Books. p. 173. ISBN 1-56282-792-8
  25. ^ Alexander, Lloyd (January 26, 1999). "Lloyd Alexander Interview Transcript". Scholastic. Archived from the original on January 21, 2012. Retrieved September 27, 2015. 
  26. ^ Torme Olson, Karen (July 30, 1998). "August 4 releases (dates subject to change) - Blues...". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on September 6, 2015. Retrieved September 6, 2015. 
  27. ^ The Black Cauldron" : What went wrong""". Jim Hill Media. Retrieved February 20, 2012. 
  28. ^ "The Black Cauldron 25th Anniversary DVD Review". DVDDizzy. Retrieved February 20, 2012. 
  29. ^ Chronology of Walt Disney World (1990-1994)
  30. ^ Sunday Brunch
  31. ^ Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour -
  32. ^ Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour: 20 Terrifying Years (1986-2006) - 1971 Collective
  33. ^ A Great Mystery… - Parkeology
  34. ^ "The Black Cauldron for Amiga (1987) - Mobygames".  


In order to make the game more accessible to children, Sierra used an innovative idea that would not reappear in the genre for the next 10 years: the text parser was removed in favor of the function keys that performed various actions: F3 would choose an inventory item, F4 would use it, F6 would perform "Use" near the character's location, and F8 would "look". The simplification of the two actions "Look" and "Use" was not reused in Sierra's later games. However, it somewhat resembles the control system of other later simpler point-and-click adventure games, such as the King's Quest VII or The Dig whose interfaces only consisted of "Look" and "Use". Being based on a Disney film, the graphics present some relative "flexibility", compared to the monolithic and straight sceneries of previous and later games.[34]

The witches of Morva who will trade it for the Sword. Unfortunately a dragon grasps the cauldron and Taran goes back to encounter the evil man himself. The game actually featured plot branches and multiple endings depending on many variables, such as whether Hen Wen the pig was saved, how the cauldron was destroyed, and what reward was chosen afterwards. This use of multiple endings predated the more famous use in Lucasfilm's game Maniac Mansion by a year.

A video game of the same name was designed by Al Lowe of Sierra On-Line and released in 1986. It was made shortly after the first King's Quest game, so it resembled that adventure in many ways. Along with The Dark Crystal it remains one of only a few adventure games by Sierra to be based on films.

Cover of the video game.

Video game

In 1986, the attraction "Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour" opened up at Tokyo Disneyland, an attraction in which the Horned King makes an appearance. The attraction was open from 1986 to 2006.[31][32][33]

In 1986, the eatery "Lancer's Inn" at Walt Disney World, was renamed "Gurgi's Munchies and Crunchies". Eventually, in 1993 they closed the place down then later remodeled it into "Lumiere's Kitchen", "The Village Fry Shoppe" and "The Friar's Nook" (its current name).[29][30]

Costumed versions of the characters from the film have made occasional appearances at the Disney theme parks and resorts.

Theme parks

In 2008, Disney announced a Special Edition DVD release of the film to be released in 2009, but failed. It was re-advertised as a 25th Anniversary Edition and released on September 14, 2010 in the US and UK. It contained a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, the new "Witch's Challenge" game, deleted scenes, and all of the features from the 2000 DVD release.

Following many requests from fans, The Black Cauldron was finally released on VHS on August 4, 1998[26] in a pan-and-scan transfer, thirteen years after its theatrical release.[27] The film received DVD release with a 2.20:1 non-anamorphic widescreen transfer followed in 2000, as part of the Walt Disney Gold Classic Collection line, featuring an art gallery, a new game "The Quest for the Black Cauldron", and the 1952 Donald Duck short Trick or Treat.[28]

Home media

First, I have to say, there is no resemblance between the movie and the book. Having said that, the movie in itself, purely as a movie, I found to be very enjoyable. I had fun watching it. What I would hope is that anyone who sees the movie would certainly enjoy it, but I'd also hope that they'd actually read the book. The book is quite different. It's a very powerful, very moving story, and I think people would find a lot more depth in the book.

Lloyd Alexander, the author of the books on which the film was based, had a more complex reaction to the film:[25]

In addition to becoming a failure at the box office, The Black Cauldron also received mixed reviews,[1] with some critics criticizing the film's lack of appeal on the dark nature of the Prydain book pentology and its absence of great storytelling, directing, and sense of Disney magic. It has earned a "rotten" score of 55% at Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus "Ambitious but flawed, The Black Cauldron is technically brilliant as usual, but lacks the compelling characters of other Disney animated classics."[20] Roger Ebert gave a positive review of the film,[21] while the Los Angeles Times' Charles Solomon praised its "splendid visuals".[22] London's Time Out magazine deemed it "a major disappointment", adding that "the charm, characterization and sheer good humor" found in previous Disney efforts "are sadly absent".[23] Jeffrey Katzenberg, then-Chairman of the Walt Disney Studios, was dismayed by the product and the animators felt that it lacked "the humor, pathos, and the fantasy which had been so strong in Lloyd Alexander's work. The story had been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and it was heartbreaking to see such wonderful material wasted."[24]

Critical reception

The film was the last Disney animated film to be completed at the original Animation Building of the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California.[19] The animation department was moved to the Air Way facility in nearby Glendale in December 1984, and, following corporate restructuring, eventually returned to the Burbank studio in the mid-1990s at a new facility.[17]

The Black Cauldron was released in North America on July 24, 1985.[1] The film was also screened at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City.[15] While officially budgeted by Disney executives at $25 million,[16] the film's production manager, Don Hahn,[16] said in his documentary, Waking Sleeping Beauty, that it cost $44 million to produce the film.[2][3] The $25-million budget made it the most expensive animated film ever made at the time.[4] The film grossed $21.3 million domestically.[1] It resulted in a loss for Walt Disney Studios and put the future of the animation department in jeopardy.[4] It was so poorly received that it was not distributed as a home video release for more than a decade after its theatrical run.[10] Adding insult to injury, the film was also beaten at the box office by The Care Bears Movie ($22.9 million domestically), which was released several months earlier by Disney's much-smaller rival animation studio Nelvana.[17] The film was however more successful outside North America notably in France where it had 3,074,481 admissions and was the fifth most attended film of the year.[18]

Box office performance



Region Date Format Label Catalog
United States 1985 Cassette, CD, LP Varèse Sarabande B000OODDXS
April 3, 2012 CD, digital download Walt Disney Records / Intrada Records D001744102

Release history

The score received positive reviews from music critics, and today is regarded as one of the best works by Bernstein and for a Disney animated film, despite its obscurity. Jason Ankeny from AllMusic gave to the soundtrack a positive review, stating that "Bernstein's bleak arrangements and ominous melodies vividly underline the fantasy world portrayed onscreen, and taken purely on its own terms, the score is an undeniable success". The film score review website Filmtracks wrote: "The score for The Black Cauldron was for Bernstein what Mulan was for Jerry Goldsmith in the next decade: a fascinating journey into a fresh realm that required its music to play a more significant role in the film".

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic [13]
Filmtracks [14]

Critical response

The film tracks received their premiere release in 2012 as part of Intrada Records partnership with Walt Disney Records to issue several Disney films soundtracks.[12]


Because of the film's last minute revisions, much of Bernstein's score was cut and unused.[11] In its minority, the score was re-recorded for the album original release by Varèse Sarabande in 1985, with the composer conducting the Utah Symphony Orchestra.[11] The album soon fell out of print and many of the film's tracks did not resurface until a bootleg copy entitled "Taran" was supplied to soundtrack specialty outlets in 1986.[11]

Original release

Unlike most other Disney animated films, the film did not contain any songs. At the time, Bernstein just came off the success of his Academy Award-nominated score for the 1983 film Trading Places as well as the score for the 1984 film Ghostbusters. Like in the latter of the two, The Black Cauldron saw the use of the ghostly ondes Martenot to build upon the dark mood of Prydain.[11]


The Black Cauldron: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is the soundtrack album to the film. It was composed and conducted by Elmer Bernstein and originally released in 1985.

The Black Cauldron
Soundtrack album by Elmer Bernstein
Released 1985 (re-recording)
April 3, 2012 (film tracks)
Genre Orchestral
Length 30:25 (re-recording)
75:27 (film tracks)
Label Varèse Sarabande (re-recording)
Walt Disney / Intrada (film tracks)
Producer George Korngold, Randy Thornton
Walt Disney Animation Studios music chronology
The Fox and the Hound
The Black Cauldron
The Great Mouse Detective
Elmer Bernstein chronology
The Black Cauldron
Spies Like Us
Alternative cover
2012 re-release cover


The film was ultimately cut by 12 minutes,[9] including whole sequences involving the world of the Fairfolk. Some existing scenes were rewritten and reanimated for continuity.[10] Some of the cut scenes involved the undead "Cauldron Born", who are used as the Horned King's army in the final act of the film. While most of the scenes were seamlessly removed from the film, one particular cut involving a Cauldron Born killing a person by slicing his neck and another one killing another person by slicing his torso created a rather recognizable lapse because the removal of the scene creates a jump in the film's soundtrack.[4] Other deleted scenes are mostly shots of graphic violence such as Taran fighting his way out of The Horned King's palace, as well as one of the King's henchmen being dissolved by mist.

Informed what Katzenberg was doing by Hale, Disney CEO Michael Eisner called Katzenberg in the editing room and convinced him to stop. Though he did what Eisner insisted, Katzenberg requested that the film be modified, and delayed its scheduled Christmas 1984 release to July 1985 so that the film could be reworked.[10]

Shortly before the film's release to theaters, newly appointed Disney studio chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg ordered certain scenes from The Black Cauldron be cut, as a result of the length and the fear that their graphic nature would alienate children and family audiences.[10] Since animated films were generally edited in storyboard form using Leica reels (later known as animatics: storyboards shot sequentially and set to temporary audio tracks), producer Joe Hale objected to Katzenberg's demands. Katzenberg responded by having the film brought into an edit bay and editing the film himself.[10]

Revision and editing

It is also the first and only animated Disney film to introduce new sound effects with the classic Disney SFX. The film is also well known for being the first motion picture produced by The Walt Disney Company to use the new and widely recognizable Walt Disney Pictures logo, which features the white silhouette of the Sleeping Beauty castle in front a clear blue background. The then-new logo replaced the Buena Vista Pictures Distribution logo and the "Walt Disney Productions Presents" title card at the beginning; it also did not feature the "The End" title card at the film's conclusion. The film is also notable, in addition, for becoming the first Disney animated feature film since Alice in Wonderland to feature closing credits at the film's conclusion. All of the Disney animated feature-length and short-length films that were produced before The Black Cauldron (except for Alice in Wonderland) featured the credits at the beginning of each film and a "The End. A Walt Disney Production." at the end. Ever since The Black Cauldron, Walt Disney Feature Animation used the Walt Disney Pictures logo in the beginning of their films; only three more films, The Great Mouse Detective, Aladdin, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, would use the "The End" title card before being abandoned for good.

The Black Cauldron is notable for being Disney's first animated feature film to incorporate the use of computer-generated imagery in its animation for bubbles, a boat, a floating orb of light, and the cauldron itself.[8] Although The Black Cauldron was released a year before The Great Mouse Detective, both movies were in production simultaneously for some time, and the computer graphics for the latter was done first. When producer Joe Hale heard about what was being done, the possibilities made him excited and he made the crew from The Great Mouse Detective project create some computer animation for his own movie. For others effects, animator Don Paul used live action footage of dry ice mists to create the steam and smoke coming out of the cauldron.[9]

For The Black Cauldron, a new way to transfer drawings to cels was invented, called the APT process. But as the APT-transferred line art would fade off of the cels over time, most or all of the film was done using the xerographic process which had been in place at Disney since the late 1950s.[7]

Walt Disney Productions optioned Lloyd Alexander's five-volume series in 1971,[4] and pre-production work began in 1973 when the film rights to Alexander's books were finally obtained. However, actual production did not officially begin until 1980.[5] According to Ollie Johnston, it was he and Frank Thomas that convinced the studio to produce the movie, and that if it had been done properly, it might be "as good as Snow White".[6]


This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.