The Sword in the Stone (film)

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The Sword in the Stone
SwordintheStonePoster.JPG
Original theatrical release poster
Directed byWolfgang Reitherman
Produced byWalt Disney
Screenplay byBill Peet
Story byBill Peet
Based onThe Sword in the Stone 
by T. H. White
StarringRickie Sorensen
Karl Swenson
Junius Matthews
Sebastian Cabot
Norman Alden
Martha Wentworth
Music byGeorge Bruns (score)
Richard M. Sherman
Robert B. Sherman (songs)
Edited byDonald Halliday
Production
company
Distributed byBuena Vista Distribution
Release dates
  • December 25, 1963 (1963-12-25)
Running time79 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$4 million[1][unreliable source?]
Box office$22.2 million[2]
 
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The Sword in the Stone
SwordintheStonePoster.JPG
Original theatrical release poster
Directed byWolfgang Reitherman
Produced byWalt Disney
Screenplay byBill Peet
Story byBill Peet
Based onThe Sword in the Stone 
by T. H. White
StarringRickie Sorensen
Karl Swenson
Junius Matthews
Sebastian Cabot
Norman Alden
Martha Wentworth
Music byGeorge Bruns (score)
Richard M. Sherman
Robert B. Sherman (songs)
Edited byDonald Halliday
Production
company
Distributed byBuena Vista Distribution
Release dates
  • December 25, 1963 (1963-12-25)
Running time79 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$4 million[1][unreliable source?]
Box office$22.2 million[2]

The Sword in the Stone is a 1963 American animated musical fantasy comedy film produced by Walt Disney and released to theaters on December 25, 1963 by Buena Vista Distribution. The 18th film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, it was the final Disney animated film released before Walt Disney's death. The songs in the film were written and composed by the Sherman Brothers, who later wrote music for other Disney films like Mary Poppins (1964), The Jungle Book (1967), and Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971).

The film is based on the novel of the same name, first published in 1938 as a single novel. It was later republished in 1958 as the first book of T. H. White's tetralogy The Once and Future King.

Plot[edit]

The King of England, Uther Pendragon, dies, leaving no heir to the throne. Soon afterwards, a sword appears inside an anvil in London. The sword bears an inscription proclaiming that whoever removes it will become the new king. No one can remove the sword, which is eventually forgotten, leaving England in the Dark Ages.

Years later, a 12-year-old orphan named Arthur, more commonly called Wart, accidentally scares off a deer his foster brother Kay was hunting and causes Kay to launch his arrow into the forest. In retrieving the arrow, Arthur lands in the cottage of Merlin the wizard, who declares himself Arthur's tutor and returns with the boy to his home, a castle run by Sir Ector, Arthur's foster father. Ector's friend, Sir Pellinore, arrives with news that the annual jousting tournament will be held on New Year's Day in London, and the winner will become king. Ector decides to put Kay through serious training for the tournament and appoints Arthur as Kay's squire.

In order to educate Arthur, Merlin transforms the boy and himself into fish. They swim in the castle moat in order to learn about physics. Arthur is attacked by a pike but is saved by Archimedes, Merlin's pet owl. Arthur is sent to the kitchen as punishment for trying to relate his lesson to a disbelieving Ector. Merlin enchants the dishes to wash themselves, then takes Arthur for another lesson, turning them into squirrels to learn about gravity. Arthur is nearly eaten by a wolf, but is saved by a female squirrel that falls in love with him. After they return to human form, Ector accuses Merlin of using black magic on the dishes. Arthur defiantly defends Merlin, but Ector refuses to listen and punishes Arthur by giving Kay another squire, Hobbs.

Resolving to make amends, Merlin plans on educating Arthur full-time. However, Merlin's knowledge of future history causes confusion, prompting Merlin to appoint Archimedes as Arthur's teacher. When Arthur imagines what it would be like to fly, Merlin transforms him into a sparrow and Archimedes teaches Arthur how to fly. However, during their lesson Arthur is attacked by a hawk and falls into the witch Madam Mim's chimney. Mim's magic uses trickery, as opposed to Merlin's scientific skill. Merlin arrives to rescue Arthur just as Mim is about to destroy him. She then challenges Merlin to a Wizards' Duel. Despite Mim's cheating, Merlin outsmarts her by transforming into a germ that infects her with Chickenpox and illustrates that knowledge is more important than strength.

On Christmas Eve, Kay is knighted, but Hobbs comes down with the mumps, forcing Ector to reinstate Arthur as Kay's squire. Merlin, however, is disappointed and angry that Arthur again is choosing being a squire over being educated. When Arthur tries to reason with the wizard, Merlin angrily launches himself to Bermuda. On the day of the tournament, Arthur realizes that he has left Kay's sword at an inn, which is now closed for the tournament. Archimedes sees the sword in the stone, which Arthur removes almost effortlessly. When Arthur returns with the sword, Ector recognizes it as the legendary "Sword in the Stone" and the tournament is halted. Demanding Arthur to prove that he pulled it, Ector replaces the sword in its anvil. Thinking anyone can pull the sword now, Kay and others try to retrieve the sword, but it appears as stuck as ever. Pellinore urges the crowd to allow Arthur to try it again, and once again he removes the sword, revealing that he is England's new king.

Arthur, crowned king, sits in the throne room with Archimedes, feeling unprepared to take the responsibility of royalty. Overwhelmed by the cheering crowd outside, Arthur calls out to Merlin for help, who arrives from Bermuda and is elated to find that Arthur is the King that he saw in the future. Merlin tells the boy that he will lead the Knights of the Round Table, becoming one of the most famous figures in literature and even in motion pictures.

Cast and characters[edit]

Reception[edit]

The Sword in the Stone was a financial success at the box office and became the sixth highest grossing film of 1963. It grossed $22,182,353 in North America,[2] earning estimated theatrical rentals of $4.75 million.[3] However, it received mixed reviews from critics, who thought it had too much humor and a "thin narrative".[4] Rotten Tomatoes reports that 71% of critics gave positive reviews based on 24 reviews with an average score of 6/10. Its consenus states that "A decent take on the legend of King Arthur, The Sword in the Stone suffers from relatively indifferent animation, but its characters are still memorable and appealing."[5] Nell Minow of Common Sense Media gave the film four out of five stars, writing, "Delightful classic brings Arthur legend to life".[6]

In his book The Best of Disney, Neil Sinyard states that, despite not being well known, the film has excellent animation, a complex structure, and is actually more philosophical than other Disney features. Sinyard suggests that Walt Disney may have seen something of himself in Merlin, and that Mim, who "hates wholesome sunshine", may have represented critics.[4]

Accolades[edit]

The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Score—Adaptation or Treatment in 1963, but lost against Irma La Douce.[7]

The American Film Institute nominated The Sword in the Stone for its Top 10 Animated Films list.[8]

Soundtrack[edit]

Other media[edit]

Several characters from the film made frequent appearances in the Disney's House of Mouse television series. Merlin was voiced by Hamilton Camp. One notable appearance in the series was in the episode: "Rent Day", in which he tells Mickey Mouse that he will give him the 50 ups only if he gives Arthur a sword. Madam Mim appears as a villain in the spin-off film Mickey's House of Villains. Merlin frequents the Disney Parks, the only character from the film appearing for meet-and-greets at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort. He appears in the opening unit of Walt Disney's Parade of Dreams at Disneyland Park. He also hosts the Sword in the Stone ceremony in the King Arthur Carrousel attraction in Fantasyland at Disneyland. The song "Higitus Figitus" has most recently been used for Change4Life's latest advert promoting their Disney-associated "10 minute shake up" program.

Comics[edit]

Madam Mim

Madam Mim was adopted into the Duck universe where she sometimes teams with Magica De Spell and/or the Beagle Boys. She also appeared in the Mickey Mouse universe where she teamed with Black Pete on occasion and with the Phantom Blot at one point. She was in love with Captain Hook in several stories; in others, with Phantom Blot. In many European Disney comics, she lost her truly evil streak, and appears morbid yet relatively polite.

Mim has appeared in numerous comics produced in the United States by Studio Program in the 1960s and 1970s,[9] often as a sidekick of Magica. Most of the stories were published in Europe and South America. Among the artists are Jim Fletcher, Tony Strobl, Wolfgang Schäfer, and Katja Schäfer. Several new characters were introduced in these stories, including Samson Hex, an apprentice of Mim and Magica.[10]

Video games[edit]

Madam Mim appears in the video game World of Illusion as the fourth boss of that game.

Merlin is a supporting character in the Kingdom Hearts series, now voiced by Jeff Bennett in Kingdom Hearts II.[11][12] In Kingdom Hearts, Merlin lives in an abandoned shack in Traverse Town with Cinderella's Fairy Godmother, sent by King Mickey to aid Sora, Donald, and Goofy in the art of magic. He owns an old book which features the world of The Hundred Acre Wood, home of Winnie the Pooh. The book's pages, however, have been torn out and scattered across the universe, and Merlin asks Sora to retrieve them for him. He reprises the same role in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, as a figment of Sora's memories. In Kingdom Hearts II, Merlin moved to Hollow Bastion to aid Leon's group as part of the town Restoration Committee, though he is at odds with Cid who prefers his own computer expertise rather than Merlin's magic. Merlin again instructs Sora, Donald and Goofy in the art of magic, and again requests that they retrieve the stolen parts of the Pooh storybook. At one point in the game, he is summoned to Disney Castle by Queen Minnie to counter the threat of Maleficent, and he constructs a door leading to Disney Castle's past (Timeless River) for the trio to explore and stop Maleficent and Pete's plans. In the prequel, Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, Merlin encounters Terra, Aqua and Ventus, and grants them each access to the Hundred Acre Wood. The prequel also reveals that it was Terra who gave him the book in the first place after finding it in Radiant Garden.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ranking Disney: #16 – The Sword in the Stone". Retrieved September 5, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "Box Office Information for The Sword in the Stone". The Numbers. Retrieved September 5, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Big Rental Pictures of 1964", Variety, January 6, 1965 p 39. Please note this figure is based on rentals accruing to distributors not total gross.
  4. ^ a b Sinyard, Neil (1988). The Best of Disney. Portland House. pp. 102–105. ISBN 0-517-65346-X. 
  5. ^ "The Sword in the Stone (1963)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 1, 2009. 
  6. ^ Nell Minow. "The Sword in the Stone - Movie Review". Commonsensemedia.org. Retrieved May 27, 2012. 
  7. ^ "1963 (36th)". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved June 24, 2009. 
  8. ^ "AFI's 10 Top 10 Ballot" (PDF). Retrieved June 25, 2011. 
  9. ^ First is in S 65051, according to the Inducks
  10. ^ Samson Hex at the Inducks
  11. ^ Square (November 15, 2002). "Kingdom Hearts". PlayStation 2. Square Electronic Arts. 
  12. ^ Square (December 22, 2005). "Kingdom Hearts II". PlayStation 2. Square Electronic Arts. 

External links[edit]