“Legend has it, in the mystic land of Prydain, there was once a king so cruel and so evil, that even the Gods feared him. Since no prison could hold him, he was thrown alive into a crucible of molten iron. There his demonic spirit was captured in the form of a great, black cauldron. For uncounted centuries, the black cauldron lay hidden, waiting, while evil men searched for it, knowing whoever possessed it would have the power to resurrect an army of deathless warriors… and with them, rule the world.”
As opening narrations go, it’s a fairly dark one. A man thrown into molten iron while still alive, bringing forth an army of the undead… these are not light-hearted concepts. One could easily be forgiven for thinking this was the opening to a particularly dark fantasy story for adults. As it happens, though, it’s the 25th film in the Disney Animated Canon, The Black Cauldron. Based on the first two novels of Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain, this 1985 animated feature stands apart from other Disney films in several ways. Perhaps most particularly, it was a financial failure, making only $21 million in the box office on a $25 million budget. Even more unusually, it hasn’t been vindicated by history the way Fantasia and Pinocchio were. While those are accounted as masterpieces today, The Black Cauldron‘s following is more on the lines of a cult classic.
And yet this black sheep of the Disney family has considerable merit to being more than just a cult favorite. Continue reading