July 19, 2010

Movie Monday: the Black Cauldron

Released on July 24th, 1985, twenty-fifth animated feature, The Black Cauldron was the first Disney film to use the APT process, which replaced Xerography at Disney. It was the most expensive animated feature made as of its release in 1985.
The production can be traced back to 1971, when the Disney Studio purchased the screen rights to Lloyd Alexander's "The Chronicles of Prydain." The five-volume mythological fantasy had been published in the mid-sixties to critical acclaim and commercial success. Adapting Alexander's books with their numerous story lines and cast of over 30 major characters proved a time-consuming task.
Several important writer/animators worked on the development of a screenplay through the 1970s until Joe Hale was named producer in 1980. He rewrote the script, capsulizing the sprawling story and making some changes. For instance, the Horned King was a minor character in the series but since he had so many possibilities, Hale expanded his role, making the villain a composite of several characters from the books.
The first Disney animated feature to employ computer-generated imagery, The Black Cauldron was also the first animated film from Disney to get a PG rating from the MPAA. The film's rating was the result of a number of dark and violent scenes, some of which were edited from the film by newly installed studio chief Jeffrey Katzenberg before the release of the film. The film is based on Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain book series, which is in turn based on Welsh mythology.
The film centers around the evil Horned King who attempts to secure the Black Cauldron in order to rule the world.
On the small farm of Caer Dallben, Taran is an Assistant Pigkeeper to the enchanter Dallben, 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 Hen Wen will show him the way to The Black Cauldron, which has the power to create a legion of invincible undead warriors, (known as "The Cauldron Born"). With the aid of Princess Eilonwy, an exaggerating middle-aged bard named Fflewddur Fflam, and a pestering but ultimately loyal creature called Gurgi, Taran tries 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.
In all, the animated film was 12 years in the making.  Over 1,165 different hues and colors were implemented and over 34 miles of film stock was utilized. This was the first animated Disney film made in cooperation with Silver Screen Partners II. The sheer lavishness of the production, however, did not guarantee huge grosses, and the film was a box-office failure. It cost $25 million to produce, but grossed only $21 million at the North American box office.
In researching for this film, I was looking for various opinions of this film, since I have never seen it, and I’ve heard many mixed things, here is one from Twitter that I think sums up the whole movie/experience.
I love Black Cauldron. I believe it to be one of the most misunderstood & difficult movies Disney had done (for it's time)” -- @JermoneFriends

This post is part of the Disney Blog Carnival (http://dismarks.com/blog/disney-blog-carnival-7). Head over there to see more great Disney-related posts and

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