The Sword in the Stone is a 1963 American-British-animated musical feature film produced by Walt Disney Pictures and released December 25, 1963. The nineteenth full-length animated feature in the Disney animated features canon, it was the last Disney animated feature released while Walt Disney was still alive.
The film is loosely based on the novel The Sword in the Stone, the first book of T.H. White’s tetralogy The Once and Future King. Released in 1963, it received mixed reviews, though it was a box office success.
| Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about|
the entire movie.
The Sword in the Stone follows the future King Arthur’s life during his education by the wizard Merlin. Arthur, called “Wart” by his family, is a 12-year-old orphan who lives with Sir Ector, one of Uther's knights aka his foster father, and Sir Kay, his older foster brother. One day, as he searches the woods for a lost arrow after landing on Kay by accident, he meets the wizard Merlin and his talking pet owl Archimedes. Merlin sees great potential in the boy and commits himself to Arthur's education, which is to consist of reading, science, and magical transformations. Sir Ector, on the other hand, plans to teach him about fighting and chivalry to prepare him to be Kay’s squire.
Back in Sir Ector´s castle, Ector scolded at the boy by giving him four demerits by forcing him four hours of extra kitchen duties. Ector also didn´t believe in magic and refuses to let Merlin teach Arthur, so Merlin creates a blizzard on him and disappears, persuading Sir Ector to let Merlin stay, despite an old tower.
Later, Ector´s friend, Pellinore, arrives with the news about the jousting tournament in London, this time whose winner would be crowned the King of Britain. Sir Ector proposes that Sir Kay will be knighted and compete for the title, despite Sir Kay failing his training in jousting and sword fighting.
For his first transformation lesson, Merlin turns Wart into a perch. In his fish form, he is chased and attacked by a huge pike. He works to outsmart the beast but is nearly caught. Archimedes flies down and plucks Wart from the pike’s jaws, saving him, but the owl later denies any altruism, claiming instead, "I intended to eat him! Young perch is my favorite dish!"
Arthur tried to explain the fish story to Sir Kay and Sir Ector, whom they believed that Arthur was just making an excuse by telling them about the fish story, which Arthur angrily finds it true. But Sir Ector gave six demerits to the boy; three for his tardiness and three more for the fish story.
When Arthur as cleaning up, Merlin shows up and enchants the dishes to clean up themselves while he and Arthur would go for the second lesson.
For his second lesson, Merlin transforms Wart to a squirrel. Though he begins by learning about the principle of gravity, he ends up learning about male-female relationships when he runs into a female squirrel who becomes infatuated with him. Merlin is amused until another female squirrel finds him attractive as well, and they are forced to fend off the amorous attentions of both females. After a wolf nearly eats Wart, Merlin transforms both of them back into humans. While Merlin’s squirrel companion is merely horrified, Wart’s companion is visibly heartbroken.
Meanwhile, back in the castle, Sir Ector´s servant runs to Ector and Kay, who were both training until being interrupted by the fact that the servant saw the kitchen being placed under a spell (causing a furious Ector to violently slam his sword at Kay´s head with a fierce bellow to stop the training). Then, Ector and Kay finally discovered the kitchen being placed under a spell and decided to fight off the dishes. They violently attack the dishes, but the dishes pushed Sir Ector into a washing basket while Kay is attacked by the magical broom and mop. When Merlin and Arthur saw this, the wizard breaks the spell by turning all the dishes back to normal. Kay and Ector were alright, but they were very furious. Sir Ector accused Merlin of using black magic in the kitchen. Merlin disappears, leaving the blame on Arthur, who tries to defend Merlin. This caused a furious Ector to pile more demerits on the boy and as a punishment, he fired Arthur as Kay´s squire, position now given to Hobbs, an unseen character, and is not allowed to go to London.
Arthur was depressed, but Merlin cheers him up by continuing his education.
For his final lesson, Merlin transforms Wart's teacher. He doesn’t join him; instead, Archimedes teaches him the principles of the forest. His skill and enjoyment rapidly become apparent to Archimedes, but his daring forces him to flee from the pursuit of a hawk. During his escape, he is taken hostage by "The Marvelous Mad Madam Mim," a witch in competition with Merlin. She claims that her magic, which is based on selfishness and trickery, is more useful than Merlin's magic, which is "for educational purposes." After Merlin locates his hostage student, he and Madam Mim engage in a wizards' duel in which each seeks to defeat the other. As they transform into various animals (a tortoise, a hare, a worm, a walrus, a mouse, a crab, a frog, a stork, a dog, a goat, an alligator, a fox, a hen, an elephant, a tiger, a snake and a rhino), it seems that Madam Mim's transformation into an ugly fearsome flame-spewing, fire-breathing dragon will win. However, Merlin transforms himself into a germ and infects her, leaving her bedridden and furious.
Later, Wart begins his service as a squire to Kay, due to the fact that the servant realized that Hobbs has come down with the mops. With Merlin, disappointed that Wart still prefers war games to academics, transports himself to 20th-century Bermuda.Ector, Kay, and Wart travel to London for a Christmas tournament which will decide who will be the next King of England. As Kay’s turn to fight approaches, Wart realizes that he has forgotten Kay's sword at their inn. He tries to retrieve it, but the door is locked, and he frantically searches the town for another sword for Kay. He sees one protruding from an anvil on a stone in a churchyard, and pulls it out, unwittingly fulfilling its prophecy and making himself king.
Though Ector, Kay, and the other knights initially don’t believe Wart is the foreordained king, they are forced to accept him when it becomes clear after repeated tries by others that he alone can pull the sword from the stone. Wart, feeling unprepared and apprehensive of his failure, calls to Merlin for help. After he appears and the facts become apparent, he is elated to find that Wart will be the "King Arthur" that he has seen in the future. Merlin tells him that he will rise and lead an order of heroes, and reveals other anachronistic information.
Spoilers end here.
- Arthur/Wart: Rickie Sorensen, Richard Reitherman, and Robert Reitherman
- Merlin: Karl Swenson
- Archimedes: Junius Matthews
- Sir Ector: Sebastian Cabot
- Sir Kay: Norman Alden
- Madam Mim and Granny Squirrel: Martha Wentworth
- Sir Pellinore: Alan Napier
- Scullery Maid: Barbara Jo Allen
- Wolf: Jimmy MacDonald
- Sir Bart: Thurl Ravenscroft
- Girl Squirrel: Ginny Tyler
- Knights/Nobles in Crowd: Tudor Owen
- "A Most Befuddling Thing"
- "Mad Madame Mim"
- "That's What Makes the World Go Round"
- "Higitus Figitus"
- "The Sword in the Stone"
- Disney animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston said that Milt Kahl's animations of Kay and Ector were "the best human figures ever done at the studio."
- The climactic battle between Merlin and Madam Mim is often cited by animation experts as some of the best character animation to that date. The characters go through numerous physical transformations during battle, yet retain their identifying features; Merlin's guises are blue and include his glasses and facial hair, while Madam Mim's are pink and have her messy hair.
- Some of the animation cells of Arthur walking through the dark forest to find Kay's arrow were later reused in a similar scene in The Black Cauldron in which Taran looks for Hen-Wen.
- When Sir Ector and Kay are in the kitchen fighting against the enchanted dishware, Sir Ector yells and swings his sword so hard that it hits Kay on the head; Jasper and Horace in One Hundred and One Dalmatians are animated in the same way during the fight scene with Pongo and Perdita.
- This film is also said to be the last film roles for Martha Wentworth, Tudor Owen, and Barbara Jo Allen
Worldwide release dates Edit
- Japan: July 18, 1964
- Mexico: December 10, 1963
- Sweden: December 14, 1964
- France: December 16, 1964
- West Germany: December 17, 1964
- Italy: December 23, 1964
- Denmark: December 26, 1964
- Norway: December 26, 1964
- Finland: December 17, 1965
- Spain: December 20, 1965
Titles in different languagesEdit
- Bosnian: Mač u kamenu
- Bulgarian: Мечът в камъка
- Chinese: 石中剑
- Croatian: Mač u kamenu
- Danish: Sværdet I Stenen
- Dutch: Merlijn de Tovenaar
- Finnish: Miekka Kivessä
- French: Merlin l'Enchanteur
- German: Die Hexe und der Zauberer (also known as Merlin und Mim)
- Hebrew: החרב באבן
- Italian: La Spada Nella Roccia
- Japanese: 王様の剣
- Maltese: Ix-Xabla fil-Ġebla
- Norwegian: Sverdet I Stenen
- Portuguese: A Espada Era a Lei
- Polish: Miecz w kamieniu
- Romanian: Sabia din Piatră
- Russian: Меч в камне
- Serbian: Mač u kamenu
- Spanish: Merlín el Encantador
- Swedish: Svärdet I Stenen
- Turkish: Taşa Saplanan Kılıç
- Vietnamese: Thanh Gươm Trong Đá