The Black Cauldron (also known as Taran and the Magic Cauldron in some countries) is the twenty-fifth animated feature in the Disney animated features canon. It was produced by Walt Disney Productions, and originally released to theatres on July 24, 1985 by Walt Disney Pictures and Buena Vista Distribution. It is based loosely on the first two volumes of Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain. The movie was directed by David H. DePatie and Francis Ford Coppola. and starred the voices of Grant Bardsley, Susan Sheridan, Freddie Jones, Nigel Hawthorne, and John Hurt.
The story concerns the evil Horned King who attempts to secure the Black Cauldron in order to rule the world. He is opposed by the heroes Taran, Princess Eilonwy, Fflewddur Fflam, and a strange creature named Gurgi.
Taran is an assistant pigkeeper with dreams of becoming a great warrior. However, he has to put the daydreaming aside when his charge, an oracular pig named Hen Wen, is kidnapped by an evil lord known as the Horned King. The villain hopes she will show him the way to The Black Cauldron, which has the power to create an invincible army of undead soldiers. With the aid of a princess, an exaggerating bard, and a creature called Gurgi, Taran will try to save the world of Prydain from the Horned King. As the new friends face witches, elves, magic swords, and the Cauldron itself, Taran starts to learn what being a hero really means and that some things are more important than glory.
Shortly before the film's release to theaters, newly appointed Disney chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg ordered several scenes from The Black Cauldron be cut, due to the fear that the graphic nature of them would alienate children and family audiences. The bulk 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 torso created a rather recognizable lapse due to the fact that the removal of the scene creates a jump in the film's soundtrack. Additionally, a scene involving Taran taking the magic sword and slaying his foes while he escapes the Horned King's castle for the first time was removed, as well as another scene with Princess Eilonwy partially nude as fabric was ripped off of her dress as she is hanging by her hands with Taran and Fflewddur Fflam. Another scene cut featured a man being dissolved by mist. The final version of the film was the first animated film from Disney to get a PG rating from the MPAA.
As of this day, the original cut of the film with the removed scenes restored, has never been released on video or DVD. A version of the film with more cuts has appeared on the Disney Channel and the Toon Disney channel.
Even with its initial box-office failure and lack of visibility or merchandising, The Black Cauldron has garnered a cult following amongst many animation fans. Roger Ebert's review at the time of the film's release was mostly positive. The film has even received positive reviews from adults on the Internet Movie Database.
A computer game, The Black Cauldron, based on the movie, was released by Sierra On-Line under Disney's license and was a popular adventure game for a generation of computer owners. It followed the classic Sierra adventure formula and proved to be very popular.
The film was released on home video in late 1985. It was then reissued numerous times. In 2000 the video was re-released on VHS, and released for the first time on DVD under Disney's "Gold Classics Collection" banner. Though the DVD is unrestored and non-anamorphic, the R2 release in France was both restored and remastered and anamorphic.
The film is mentioned in some detail in the 2006 Platinum edition of The Little Mermaid.
Differences between the film and the booksEdit
- Quite a number of significant characters were omitted from the film, including Coll, an assistant to Dallben, an evil queen/witch named Achren, a war hero named Gwydion, and an evil lord Arawn who was actually the master to the Horned King.
- In the books Eilonwy is described as having red-gold hair, but in the film her hair is mainly blond.
- Dallben had a beard in the books, perhaps having an appearance closer to Gandalf, in The Lord of the Rings.
- Creeper, who served as the henchman to The Horned King was an added character in the movie, not found in the books.
- Fflewddur Fflam is described as having more yellowish hair in the books, as well as being lankier and much younger than he appeared in the film.
- The Horned King did not try to get his hands on The Black Cauldron. Unlike the movie where the Cauldron is hidden, and being sought by the Horned King, in the books the Horned King was the servant to the evil lord, Arawn, who already owned the Cauldron to release the Cauldron Born. It was only in the second book, The Black Cauldron, that the good characters stole the Cauldron from Arawn, and decided its powers needed to be destroyed.
- In the movie Doli can clearly be able to disappear/become invisible. In the first book, The Book of Three, Doli's main wish is to be able to have the power to become invisible.
- In the movie, Taran meets Eilonwy in the dungeon of the Horned King's castle. In the first book, The Book of Three, Taran was trapped in the evil witch, Achren's castle, and was then rescued by Eilonwy.
- In the book, Taran first meets the Horned King, riding on a horse through the forest. However, in the movie, the Horned King is never seen riding a horse.
- The characters met Fflewddur Fflam, in the movie, in the dungeon. However, in The Book of Three, Taran and the war hero, Gwydion are separated in different dungeons. Taran sends Eilonwy to rescue his war hero friend, but mistakenly takes Fflewddur Fflam for Gwydion.
- At the end of the film, The Horned King's castle collapses. In the middle of the first book, Achren's castle collapses.
- In the movie, Gurgi puts his body into the Cauldron to destroy its powers. However, in the book it was a character named Ellidyr. Ellidyr goes into the Cauldron and dies. (In the movie Gurgi died, but was brought back to life by the Witches of Morva.)
- In the movie Hen Wen is a piglet, in the book she is a full grown white sow.
Titles in different languagesEdit
- Bulgarian: (Таран и) Черният казан
- Cantonese Chinese: 黑神锅传奇 ("Legend of the Mysterious Black Pot")
- Danish: Taran og den magiske gryde
- Dutch: Taran en de toverketel
- Finnish: Hiidenpata("The Cauldron of an Evil Spirit")
- French: Taram et le chaudron magique
- German: Taran und der Zauberkessel
- Greek: Το μαγικό καζάνι ("The Magic cauldron")
- Italian: Taron e la pentola magica
- Japanese: コルドロン ("Cauldron")
- Korean (South Korea): 블랙 콜드론
- Mandarin Chinese: 黑神锅传奇 hēi shénguō chuánqí ("Legend of the Mysterious Black Pot")
- Norwegian: Taran og den sorte gryte
- Polish: 'Taran i magiczny kocioł
- Portuguese: O caldeirão mágico or Taran e o caldeirão mágico
- Russian: Черный котел
- Serbian: Crni kazan
- Spanish (Spain): Tarón y el caldero mágico (Spain); El caldero mágico (Latin America)
- Swedish: Taran och den magiska kitteln
- The first use of the APT process in a movie, which replaced Xerography at Disney.
- The first Disney animated feature to use the multiplane camera in years.
- The most expensive animated feature made as of its release in 1985, it cost $25 million in actual production costs, but returned less than $10 million at the North American box office.
- The first Disney animated feature to employ computer-generated imagery. The dimensions and volume of the animated objects were fed into a computer and then their shapes were manipulated through computer programming before they were transferred as physical outlines the animators could work on. (Animated features with cels containing computer animation are probably rather rare as animation studios stopped using cels years ago.)
- The first Disney animated film to get a PG rating, all the other movies had been rated G. The first Disney film to garner a PG rating was The Black Hole, although this was a live-action film, unlike The Black Cauldron.
- The Disney sound editors began experimenting with newly-recorded sound effects, beginning with this film, to replace many of the classic effects heard in many animated Disney movies up until after The Fox and the Hound. This included newer, more-realistic thunderclaps (to replace the "Castle Thunder" sound effects used on most 1937-1981 animated Disney features), newer crashes and explosions, and more. However, The Great Mouse Detective (released the following year) made heavy use of the old Disney sound effects. After that movie, the classic sound effects (including "Castle Thunder") were officially retired from Walt Disney Feature Animation.
- Tinker Bell makes a cameo in the film in the Fairfolk scequence.
- The mush that Hen-Wen refuses to eat is actually cream of rice.
- Acclaimed director Tim Burton did work on the film as a conceptual artist. None of his ideas, which included the Horned King speaking to two hand puppets to illustrate a schism in his psyche, were utilized, and he received no credit for his efforts.
- First Disney animated feature to have closing credits since Alice in Wonderland. The earliest, but not the first, Disney animated feature to have closing credits is Fantasia, beginning five years later.
- This film was shot using the Super Technirama 70 widescreen 70 mm film process, and is one of only two Disney films to have been produced in such a manner, the other being Sleeping Beauty.
- Elmer Bernstein's orchestral score, which has never been released on CD, was made available for download on iTunes in 2006.
- Some of the film's settings, aesthetics and character designs were recycled in the creation of the Gummi Bears television series.
- The scene were for the two farm dogs, Tiger and Talbot getting Taran and licking his face in The Sword in the Stone, the two castle dogs getting Arthur/Wart and licking his face.
- ↑  - Graphic image. An animation cel which was auctioned on eBay, from Sarah's Black Cauldron Page
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