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 Ted Berman and Richard Rich. 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.
Plot[edit | edit source]
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.
Production[edit | edit source]
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.
Distribution[edit | edit source]
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 books[edit | edit source]
- 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 languages[edit | edit source]
- 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
References[edit | edit source]
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