Based on Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain book series, The Black Cauldron is one of the darkest animated films in the Walt Disney library. As the 25th animated release from Disney, it became their first to earn a PG rating back in 1985 because of the grim story. In turn it was a box office failure and is considered to be one of their least popular titles (having only been released on home video a few times it’s also one of their rarest).
The Black Cauldron holds magic that will give whoever releases it ultimate powers. The evil Horned King wants it so he can rule the world of Prydain, and he’ll do anything to find it. When he steals a prophetical pig to help him with this mission he doesn’t plan for the pig’s young keeper, Taran, to set out on a quest of his own to get to the cauldron first. Will Taran and his misfit group of friends (he’s joined by a princess, a minstrel, and a weird creature named Gurgi) save the world, or will the Horned King succeed and get to unleash his terrible army?
Although highly underrated, The Black Cauldron is a great film with a solid story and beautiful animation. The voice cast, which includes the likes of John Hurt, John Huston, and Nigel Hawthorne, all do an excellent job too. Yes, it might scare younger children, but kids over eight should be okay with the darker tone and enjoy it as much as any other animated Disney movie.
Why this is only being released on DVD and not on Blu-ray for its 25th anniversary is a shame (there’s a ton of promos on the DVD for how great Blu-ray is too). That said, special features include a deleted scene, two games, the Donald Duck short film Treat or Treat, a still frame gallery, and trailers for Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue, Tangled, DisneyNature’s Oceans and The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos, and the upcoming Blu-ray release of Beauty and the Beast.
Film *** / DVD ** (out of 5 stars)
Cast: Grant Bardsley, John Hurt, John Huston, Nigel Hawthorne
Directed by: Ted Berman and Richard Rich
The Black Cauldron – 25th Anniversary Edition is currently available on DVD.