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54 of 60 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars f you haven't watched "The Black Cauldron" definitely give this 25th Anniversary edition on DVD a chance!, September 24, 2010
This review is from: The Black Cauldron: 25th Anniversary Special Edition (DVD)
In 1985, Walt Disney Pictures released their 25th animated feature in July 1985. The animated film "The Black Cauldron" is based on the first two novels of Lloyd Alexander's "Chronicles of Prydain" books (a total of five novels were created from 1964-1968) and is based on Welsh mythology.

"The Black Cauldron" is the first Disney film to utilize the APT process (a photographic transfer system that can transfer lines or solid blocks of colors onto cels) and as most new animated technology, the film was quite expensive to make.

It was also a Disney film in which it was an interesting risk for the company as the studio wanted to created a PG-rated animated film, especially since the original books that the animated film was adapted from, was quite dark. Because the animated film was not a musical nor was it a happy, uplifting film that many young children would want to see, the film didn't perform quite well in the box office (the film was budgeted at $25 million and made $21 million).

But times have changed since the "The Black Cauldron" was shown in the theater and with films such as "The Lord of the Rings" and television shows such as "The Legend of the Seeker" are more common place for today, there is no doubt that the storyline of "The Black Cauldron" will attract viewers and now "The Black Cauldron" will receive its DVD re-release in Sept. 2010 (the original "The Black Cauldron - Gold Collection" DVD was released in 2000) to celebrate the film's 25th anniversary.


"The Black Cauldron" is presented in widescreen 2:35:1 (enhanced for 16×9 televisions). The first thing that came to my mind while watching this film is how beautiful the artistic backgrounds were. There is a lot of painted with a lot of detail in the background. From the look of the wood homes or buckets, to the lush scenery of grass and water or even the detail of the dark forest, "The Black Cauldron" looks fantastic. Walt Disney had done a fantastic job with the hand-drawn animation and overall look of the film. The last film before "The Black Cauldron" was the 1981 film "The Fox and the Hound", so it is no surprise to me that because the amount of detail we see in this film, this film took years to make.

The film looks great! But because of the film's dark subject matter, it's unfortunate that the film was not appreciated when it was released in 1985 and it makes me wonder, because the film is not a box office earning classic, if it will ever receive Disney's wonderful HD restoration and remastering treatment in the future?


"Black Cauldron" is presented in Dolby Digital (English, French and Spanish 5.1 surround). The dialogue is clear and understandable and if anything, I found myself just laughing at the parts that featured Gurgi talking. Love the sound effects that went into creating his voice. I will say that Elmer Bernstein's music ("Twilight", "Cape Fear", "Bulletproof") in the film is fantastic!

Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.


"The Black Cauldron - 25th Anniversary" comes with the following special features:

* Deleted Scene--(9:50) The Fairfolk: Viewers join Taran, Fflewddur Fflam, Gurgi and Princess Eilonwy as they travel into the depths of the earth and meet the Fairfolk. A combination of animation and the deleted animated and non-animated sketch of the various scenes.
* Still Frame Gallery--A compilation of behind-the-scenes artwork and photos that you can view via using your remote control (or keyboard).
* The Witches' Challenge Game--In order to defeat the dark powers of the Horned King, players must gain possession the magical sword from the Witches of Morva by solving their riddles.
* Quest For the Black Cauldron--A trivia game in which players compete against the evil Horned King in a race to reach the Black Cauldron first.
* Trick Or Treat-- (8:15) A classic Donald Duck Jack Hannah Halloween cartoon from 1952.


"The Black Cauldron" probably didn't make sense to viewers in 1985 but 25-years-later, the story is quite tame and I personally didn't find the overall film to be too dark. In fact, I watched it along with my seven-year-old and he just enjoyed the film and was quite engrossed while watching it.

I found the film to be quite entertaining but by saying this, I know that the film is based on Lloyd Alexander's "The Prydain Chronicles" and the fact there are five-volumes created, If the first two volumes were condensed to an 80-minute film, you can imagine a lot of story being lost, especially storylines that were meant to focus on character development.

So, having not read the original novels, I can imagine those who did enjoy them, may feel a bit disenchanted with the film and with Disney trying to fit everything into one film and also the film missing a lot of characters from the book and I've also read that Disney did change a few things to make it more Disney friendly. But again, this was released in 1985 and that was how things were back then with Disney.

"The Black Cauldron - 25th Anniversary" does add a little more content from its original 2000 "Gold Collection" DVD release. You do get the new "The Witches" challenge game and you do get a full nine minute deleted scene as well. And for those who are wondering, the animated short "Trick or Treat" starring Donald Duck and his 3 nephews is still included as well as the previous other special features as well. It's also important to note that Disney did improve it's DVD authoring after 2003, so since the film was released originally on DVD in 2000, there is an improvement in picture quality on this 2010 DVD release.

As for parents, this is a PG film and I would not recommend this film to very young children. The Horned King is an evil nemesis and a villain that can be too frightening for children and although there are no sexual themes in the film, there are parts where you see a buxom witch and seeing the character Fflewddur Fflam getting his head stuck between them. A scene which my wife did comment and was surprised to see (especially since we had our child watching along with us).

Overall, "The Black Cauldron" is a good film but I say this, having not read the original novels (so I don't share the same disappointment as those who have). I do feel that the writers really did have a major challenge of trying to incorporate so much into an 80-minute film and the fact that the film only covers the first two novels, it's a shame that the other three novels will not be made into an animated format. But I suppose if you go with this film's storyline on its own, despite having a dark storyline, in Disney fashion, you do have the happy ending.

I was very impressed by the artistic painted backgrounds and the animation was well-done. But compared to other Disney animated classics, the storyline was good but not great and I refuse to call it an inferior film because it's not inferior at all. It's just that Disney has so many great films and "The Black Cauldron" is not one of them. But I found the film to feature a good amount of fantasy and action and it looks fantastic. It's definitely a Disney animated film worth watching.

If you have not watched this Disney animated film, definitely give "The Black Cauldron - 25th Anniversary" a try!
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 30, 2010 5:05:47 PM PDT
I can't disagree with you there.

Posted on Nov 25, 2010 11:16:08 AM PST
Great review, thank you! I think THE BLACK CAULDRON is one of the best, and certainly the most underrated, Disney animated features. Like FANTASIA, ALICE IN WONDERLAND (1951) and SLEEPING BEAUTY, it was ahead of its time, but the time for full appreciation for this fantasy masterpiece is NOW.

I only wish that Disney would mount a theatrical sequel or two and complete the literary story...

Posted on Dec 27, 2010 5:53:11 AM PST
I grew up reading the original books and they did a decent job of melding the two stories together. It's still my favorite non-Pixar disney film, but I never did like sugar coated fairy tales.

Posted on Sep 13, 2013 7:52:26 PM PDT
Ryan Winch says:
This film almost killed Disney's animation department.

Posted on Aug 13, 2014 2:15:58 PM PDT
J. Rugino says:
I was living in Silver Lake in L.A. when this came out, and I have always been sorry I missed it in the theater, largely because of the technical advance in animation that this film presented, but that was obviously insuffucient draw to make the film a success. That is, on the other hand, sufficient reason to claim it's a "must-have" for fans of animation, but not sufficiently 'necessary' for the regular audience - oh! Just like the original theatrical release. I see how that works...
I enjoyed your review; thank you.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 13, 2014 2:18:53 PM PDT
J. Rugino says:
The nature of Disney in film is that they produce product, not art; the same fate befell the Chronicles of Narnia at their hands - the oodles of money projected at its release never appeared, so they moved on to create other revenue streams.
Star Wars fans, beware: this is why Disney doesn't do well with sequels and series.
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