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Old 07-12-2018, 12:12   #41
LeftHandedGuitarist
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#10: Melody Time (1948)

I can't take much more of these package films. Fortunately there's only one more to go.

I don't have much to say about this one. Once again it features gorgeous and creative animation, but it's a haphazard mix of short pieces that don't join together. Johnny Appleseed's story was probably the best part even though it kind of bored me senseless and I really didn't like the song(s). The final section with Pecos Bill goes on far too long and isn't a particularly nice story either with some horribly blasé racism. More random live action stuff with kids hanging out with adults.

Side note: reading up, it looks like the UK has an uncut version of this. In the USA, the Pecos Bill section had his cigarette digitally removed for home releases which meant a sequence had to be entirely cut out.



My current ranking:
  1. Pinocchio
  2. Bambi
  3. Dumbo
  4. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  5. Fun and Fancy Free
  6. Saludos Amigos
  7. Melody Time
  8. Fantasia
  9. Make Mine Music
  10. The Three Caballeros
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Old 07-12-2018, 12:58   #42
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Aye, whilst a few of the classics has stood the test of time, it's not unsurprising why nobody has heard of this one. I guess you need to remember that these were made when people were still impressed with the novelty of watching a long cartoon at the pictures.
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Old 07-12-2018, 16:15   #43
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I don't think it was so much that they were impressed, as that people didn't yet have television, so why not?

I doubt anyone was under any illusions that these films were on the level of Pinocchio, Bambi or Fantasia (which I would personally rank far higher than LHG does in terms of enjoyment, and which regardless of personal taste is undeniably stunningly ambitious). The existence of these movies is entirely a testament to the money troubles Disney was facing at the time.
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Old 08-12-2018, 12:07   #44
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Absolutely, I was blown away the amount of work and level of skill that went into Fantasia, even though it didn't click with me.
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Old 08-12-2018, 12:12   #45
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#11: The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)

At last, I've reached the end of the 1940s "package" era of Disney films. These were all made as money-saving exercises to help fund upcoming projects, so in that respect I'm glad they exist. But they were not easy to sit through, being a jumble of mismatched animation experiments, storytelling and art ideas.

This final one is among the better ones. Like Fun and Fancy Free, it tells only two stories and they are both fully developed ideas. Unfortunately, I didn't really fall in love with either of them.

The first story is a re-telling of The Wind in the Willows. This is a story which I feel like I've been exposed to multiple times over while growing up, and yet I'm not overly familiar with it because I never really liked it and never paid all that much attention. I also always thought the character of Toad was a total dick.

The ending fight in the house is the best part with some delightful creativity. I also really liked all of the weasel characters, they just look fantastic and move really well.

The second story adapts Sleepy Hollow, and while my only exposure to this previously is the Tim Burton film I have to say I was expecting something very different to this. Most of it tells of the central character, Ichabod Crane, messing up the plans of the town bully. This wouldn't be so bad if Ichabod himself wasn't one of the most hateful characters I've seen so far in any Disney piece. There's a weird crossing of wires in that he's supposed to be a good guy but doesn't act that way at all. He also looks horrific.

The ending of the piece introduces the more familiar spooky elements and the Headless Horseman. This segment is quite well put together and becomes really frantic. Unfortunately by this point I had completely checked-out storywise.

These package films have been mostly forgotten to time for a reason - I had certainly never heard of any of them before starting this project. I'm so ready to watch some proper Disney films now.



My current ranking:
  1. Pinocchio
  2. Bambi
  3. Dumbo
  4. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  5. Fun and Fancy Free
  6. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
  7. Saludos Amigos
  8. Melody Time
  9. Fantasia
  10. Make Mine Music
  11. The Three Caballeros
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Old 10-12-2018, 11:09   #46
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#12: Cinderella (1950)

I know I watched this when I was a child, but it turned out that I had almost zero memory of it.

There's a lot to like here, especially coming following the relatively poor 'package' era of Disney films. This feels epic, sweeping and vibrant in the best traditions of classic Disney. However, I was quite surprised at just how much padding there is.

It feels like the majority of the films (pretty short) run time is more concerned with the mice and cat than it is with the title character. A considerable chuck of the opening is dedicated to the adventures of these animals - and honestly, it's not that exciting. We are introduced to a new mouse called Gus (which is somehow short for Octavius... huh) and he gets shown the ropes by another mouse called Jaq. Mostly this involves avoiding the house cat, but in actual fact it seems like they do everything they can to antagonise it.

The sequences in which the cat attempts to capture and eat Gus really do go on, and the mouse language is pretty hard on the ears. I might seem cruel, but I was actually rooting for that cat a few times here.

In the background of all this, Cinderella is being heavily mistreated by her step-mother and step-sisters. There's no real explanation as to why they are so evil, but that's when you need to remember that this is based on a fairytale, and they're not famous for well rounded characters. As it stands, the step-mother seems incredibly cruel and it works to make you feel very sympathetic towards young Cinders. The step-mother is exceptionally well performed and drawn though, she's genuinely cold.

Cinderella herself is a brave and strong character who attempts to make the best of the horrible situation she's in. She's generally positive and that make you like her.

Then we have more cat and mouse shenanigans.

I can't help but feel that Disney felt there just wasn't enough story in the fairytale and that they needed to add some distractions. I would have been good with that approach if they had done something with a little more creativity.

As the story goes on we get to meet the king who wants to marry off his son, and he derailed things for me. He seems obsessed with the idea of being a fun grandfather that can play with his grandchildren, but he's also really evil and angry. Those two sides of his personality don't really mesh, especially as he regularly threatens death to his assistant for the tiniest things. I think he's meant to come across as comedic, but it's all pretty dark.

There's a love story hidden in here too, but the film doesn't seem to interested in telling it. Cinderella and the prince fall in love immediately, and while this is typical Disney it's also quite heartwarming. It's a real shame that the prince is non-entity who does nothing. He couldn't even be bothered to search for Cinderella himself?

I did find quite a bit to enjoy here, but the film is somewhat chaotic and often directionless. It does bring some magic to things and is an easy watch, though.



My current ranking:
  1. Pinocchio
  2. Bambi
  3. Dumbo
  4. Cinderella
  5. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  6. Fun and Fancy Free
  7. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
  8. Saludos Amigos
  9. Melody Time
  10. Fantasia
  11. Make Mine Music
  12. The Three Caballeros
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Old 10-12-2018, 11:23   #47
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Most fairy tales are pretty light on story really, most pantos are filled with daft filler rather than story. I must also have seen it, but I guess its more aimed at girls and not one I ever re-watched
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Old 11-12-2018, 13:30   #48
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Having not watched the animated Cinderella in decades how does it compare to the live action Branagh one? Which I thought was good.
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Old 11-12-2018, 14:27   #49
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Given the choice of which one of those to watch right now, I would take the live action one. It does away with all the silly stuff and has a charming cast, so wins points there for me.
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Old 12-12-2018, 10:53   #50
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#13: Alice in Wonderland (1951)

Finally I get to a Disney film that I watched a lot as a kid. I have a lot memories associated with this one, and yet watching it now I was really struck at just how trippy Alice in Wonderland is.

Having never read the original novel, I don't know how many of the elements here are lifted from that and how many are down to the creativity of the artists and animators. Either way, I'm super impressed. There are so many delightfully nonsense things happening that it eventually becomes quite overwhelming and you just accept that it all makes some sort of sense.

It's quite an intimidating film, too. There's a real sense of Alice being out of her element, maybe in danger, and the characters she encounters are rarely friendly (or sane). I never liked the caterpillar when I was little, and that's still true today. The flowers also seem unnecessarily mean. The Mad Hatter and the March Hare are a bit too unhinged, while Tweedledee and Tweedledum are extremely sinister (although I enjoy the bizarre story they tell). The Queen of Hearts wears her blood lust on her sleeve, which I guess in some ways is refreshing because she's one of the few honest people in Wonderland.

The Mad Hatter's tea party is a feast of visual gags and clever use of the English language. Glorious.

Throughout all of this is Alice herself. I can't state enough what a wonderful character I think she is. A combination of vivid and memorable design mixed with the astoundingly strong voice performance by then 10-year-old Kathryn Beaumont makes for such a memorable and joyous character. She's curious, without fear and has a delightful imagination. I think she's easily my favourite Disney character so far.

If you can handle just how psychedelic and insane this film gets, it's a real pleasure to watch. I don't think it's as fun or full of joy as many other Disney pieces - indeed, it's a series of things going very wrong and there's an element of despair to it all - and the story itself isn't anything other than imagined silliness, but it's a real classic.

Also, I think that Dinah is the cutest cartoon cat ever.



My current ranking:
  1. Pinocchio
  2. Alice in Wonderland
  3. Bambi
  4. Dumbo
  5. Cinderella
  6. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  7. Fun and Fancy Free
  8. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
  9. Saludos Amigos
  10. Melody Time
  11. Fantasia
  12. Make Mine Music
  13. The Three Caballeros
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Old 12-12-2018, 11:53   #51
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The original novel is just as bonkers.
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Old 15-12-2018, 12:19   #52
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#14: Peter Pan (1953)

I finally get to a Disney classic film that I don't think I've ever seen before, even though elements of it were vaguely familiar to me. And it turns out I was fairly underwhelmed by it.

This tells the classic story of Peter Pan, Wendy and Captain Hook which I'm aware of but have never really known the details about. In fact, most of my Peter Pan knowledge comes from the quite terrible Steven Spielberg film Hook, which was presented as a sequel to the original story.

The problem I had here was that I felt like I was expected to know a lot about the story before it started. This film has no real beginning; we are just dumped into a situation where Wendy and her brothers seem to have a pre-existing relationship with Peter Pan and Neverland, and it's not explained. We also seem to be thrown into a family dynamic in which the father is angry about his children's flights of fancy, and that's not given any context either. So, as things started I felt like I was lost.

Peter Pan turns up and, I have to say, he's a bit of a dick. I'm confused as to why Disney chose him to give a slightly devil-like appearance. Tinkerbell is similarly made out to be kind of unpleasant (she flat out attempts to MURDER Wendy), and since she has no dialogue it means her character comes off as very one note. A shame.

The Darling children are better, or at least Wendy is (the same voice actress as Alice). Her brothers don't get given much personality, and once we're at Neverland the same can be said of all the Lost Boys, who are just there.

The saving grace of the film comes from Captain Hook and the crocodile. These two characters steal the entire show and and are animated with so much style. All the humour comes from them, and it's pretty impressive that a crocodile is given so much personality. I really liked the ticking clock as a sign of his presence, and Hook's twitchy response to it. The rest of the pirates are just background noise outside of Smee, who acts as a decent foil for Hook.

Then we get some incredibly racist and in-poor-taste stuff for the native American Indians, which only left a bad taste in my mouth and soured my opinion of the film further. I'd like to give the benefit of the doubt and think that this was not intentionally done with malice, but rather was a stereotype of the time.

There's not really much to speak of at all in the way of songs. Musical moments happen, but they aren't really presented as melodic. It's more about delivering dialogue rhythmically and with rhymes. 'Your Mother and Mine' is a bit too joyless and slow for my tastes. The only thing I knew of from this film was 'Never Smile At A Crocodile'... which isn't actually in it! We get an instrumental version of it which accompanies the appearances of the crocodile, and it was highlight for me.

The animation and art is absolutely gorgeous throughout, so the whole thing is very nice to look at. The scene with the mermaids is... alluring, to say the least, and surprising that it's in a kid's film! The artists didn't hold back on their appearance or mannerisms. There's some excellent action scenes which move fluidly. Unfortunately, the real lack of character and the very sedate story had me losing interest by this point. It's really hard to care about Peter at all.



My current ranking:
  1. Pinocchio
  2. Alice in Wonderland
  3. Bambi
  4. Dumbo
  5. Cinderella
  6. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  7. Peter Pan
  8. Fun and Fancy Free
  9. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
  10. Saludos Amigos
  11. Melody Time
  12. Fantasia
  13. Make Mine Music
  14. The Three Caballeros
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Old 16-12-2018, 11:55   #53
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A lot of what you don't like about Peter Pan are points where Disney follows J.M. Barrie's original play/novel, like picking up after Peter's initial visits (after he's lost his shadow), and the fact that he's somewhat demonic (Barrie famously described children as "gay and innocent and heartless") and Tinkerbell outright vicious.

Personally I like these choices, since it keeps the story from becoming too cuddly and safe. Several later revisionist takes have cast child-stealing Peter as a villain.
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Old 16-12-2018, 12:04   #54
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Good to know, thanks! I'm trying to read up on the context/production of each film as I go, but having zero knowledge of the source material as I do in this case can definitely colour my own views.
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Old 18-12-2018, 15:52   #55
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#15: Lady and the Tramp (1955)

At last, beautiful beautiful widescreen! I feel quite confident in saying that this is the most gorgeous Disney film so far, and the wider frame makes a huge amount of difference. It's also incredibly vibrant and colourful and the animal characters are designed in such a way that their personalities shine through without them even having to talk or move.

I feel like I did watch this at some point when I was young, but I really have no memories of it so I'm saying that this is my first time seeing it.

Now, let me admit something: I am not a dog lover. I don't even like animals that much at all. It's just something I inherited from my upbringing and animals were never a big part of my life. For dogs especially, I actually have a pretty strong phobia of them after numerous bad encounters that I've worked on overcoming throughout the years.

So, with that in mind, it takes a lot for a film about dogs to actually have some emotional resonance with me. Lady and the Tramp succeeded in doing that and I can't lie, I fell in love with several of the characters here. Lady especially is adorable, helped no end by the film showing us her as a puppy and integrating with her new family before growing up. I really liked that the film is told from the perspective of the dogs. We stay down at their height level and don't really see human faces all that much. I also loved that Lady refers to her owners only by the affectations they use on each other ("Jim, Dear" and "Darling"). It felt like a huge amount of attention to detail was applied to every aspect.

Lady and the Tramp is a romance at heart, with a small amount of background adventure. The iconic spaghetti and meatballs scene still resonated, even after seeing it referenced and spoofed so many times. All of the dog characters, even the "mean" ones, are given positive traits that represent their innocence. All of the genuine threat comes from humans (and a rat).

The ending is a little bit of a cop out. A huge amount of peril and threat is built up and we assume the worst has happened, but it turns out that everything is fine. The actual romance is considerably better than what Disney usually give us (that typically being love at first sight), and this one is actually given time to grow as Lady and Tramp actually spend time together.

I can imagine the unfair treatment of Lady as the film goes on would upset younger children, as it was actually getting to me a bit.

I did feel it was a bit of shame that cats were represented as nothing but arseholes, because I actually do have some fondness for them. Still, the Siamese cat scene is one of the highlights of the entire film. The accompanying song is really the only truly memorable one from the whole movie, but there is a nice variety in the music here with a surprising jazz/blues piece making an appearance.



My current ranking:
  1. Lady and the Tramp
  2. Pinocchio
  3. Alice in Wonderland
  4. Bambi
  5. Dumbo
  6. Cinderella
  7. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  8. Peter Pan
  9. Fun and Fancy Free
  10. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
  11. Saludos Amigos
  12. Melody Time
  13. Fantasia
  14. Make Mine Music
  15. The Three Caballeros
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Old 21-12-2018, 15:10   #56
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#16: Sleeping Beauty (1959)

The thing that struck me most on this viewing was the visual look. It's a change in direction to what Disney had done before and quite stylised, giving things an almost storybook quality. The backgrounds are made up of straight lines and square shapes, while the colours are slightly washed out. It works, even if it's missing a bit of vibrancy.

The characters all look really wonderful, though, and there's a good mix. Maleficent steals the show with an incredible design and she makes for an excellent villain. I have no idea what her motivations were, as with several previous Disney baddies she appears to be evil just because. Still, Maleficent does it with style and her dragon form is just jaw dropping. I'm not surprised that the 2014 live action movie chose to give her a backstory.

The title character, Princess Aurora, is actually something of a background character to everything that's going on. But even with her limited screen time she's given quite a bit of characterisation. I was happy to see that her love-at-first-sight stuff with Prince Philip wasn't the usual Disney nonsense and there's an actual attempt to build up a romance between them - limited as it is. Less time could have been spent with the two idiotic kings and we could have had more development there (side note: it struck me like a hammer just how little the kings have Aurora's own interests at heart. She's a thing to them, to be used in the advancement of their own lives. Quite sad/horrific).

The main players here are really the three good fairies, and I admit I was really charmed by them. I love their individual looks and personalities and they provide good comic relief.

So it's kind of frustrating that their poor decision making leads to so many story issues. Their initial plan to whisk baby Aurora away and hide her for 16 years seems pretty flawed from the off, but then returning Aurora on the evening of her 16th birthday is even worse. There's no solid plans or arrangements in place and it seems to me that there were far simpler and more sensible ways to go about things. Having the whole kingdom turn out for her arrival when she has only just found out she's a princess? Not meeting her parents in private beforehand? No adjustment period? Just hanging out alone in the castle so that Maleficent can grab her? Getting married on the very same night?

The final act of the film was the most enjoyable part. Prince Philip's escape and subsequent battle is epic and genuinely exciting. I think my faded memories of this film gave me high expectations so I'm a little let down overall, but this is still one of the better early Disney offerings. I noticed more than any previous film how much rotoscoping was used in the animation, but that's not really a bad thing given what it allows to be shown on screen.



My current ranking:
  1. Lady and the Tramp
  2. Pinocchio
  3. Alice in Wonderland
  4. Sleeping Beauty
  5. Bambi
  6. Dumbo
  7. Cinderella
  8. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  9. Peter Pan
  10. Fun and Fancy Free
  11. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
  12. Saludos Amigos
  13. Melody Time
  14. Fantasia
  15. Make Mine Music
  16. The Three Caballeros
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Old 27-12-2018, 19:39   #57
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#17: One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)

More dogs! But once again I'm won over. I wish people were half as friendly and honourable as the dogs depicted in this film.

For some reason, I had this in my head as a lesser entry in the Disney vault. I think that's largely in part to the way it looks: this is definitely a step down in visuals. A new animation method (xerography) intended to keep costs down is used, and it results in images that appear scratchy and gritty, as well as lacking in the usual detail or colour. Not only that, we've gone back to a 4:3 image as opposed to widescreen, which is a real shame. This all adds up to some poor first impressions and the feeling that the film is not of as high a quality when compared to what Disney have done before.

Fortunately those feeling went away once the charm of the film kicks in. The art style may be weaker but the animation is fluid and gorgeous, the characters are vibrant with excellent voice acting and the story is sweet and exciting. From the beginning it has a very 1960s vibe, especially with the opening credits.

I really enjoyed the English setting and how it allowed for certain situations to occur. Most of the humour in the film is distinctly British, not to mention the character types. I wasn't expecting that at all and it immediately warmed me to things. One confusing thing that did arise from this was the question as to why all the puppies have American accents, but whatever.

Cruella DeVille is an excellent antagonist. She's got an amazing look and just radiates malice, while also being able to turn on (fake) charm when needed. I particularly loved the ridiculous car she drives around in which matches her personality so well.

The tale of Pongo and Perdita trying to track down their stolen children is a really powerful one. Their efforts and worry make for a story that stays engaging all the way through (although, them somehow getting from London to Suffolk by foot in a night is a bit of a stretch). There are moments that are really tense and the film really turns into a pure adventure by the final acts.

Surprisingly, the film doesn't really feature much in the way of songs. There's the classic ditty about Cruella DeVille, but it's really short and presented as a song that Roger is writing rather than a random piece that everyone just starts singing. No complaints here. I was also not expecting to see a bunch of cameo appearances from the Lady and the Tramp dogs!

One of Disney's best, just such a shame about the art style (which, I admit, I warmed to more as the film went on and I got used to it). I'd say it's also a little overlong (we're now approaching run times closer to 1.5 hours) and drags in the middle. I'm fascinated at the thought of Emma Stone taking on the role of Cruella.



My current ranking:
  1. One Hundred and One Dalmatians
  2. Lady and the Tramp
  3. Pinocchio
  4. Alice in Wonderland
  5. Sleeping Beauty
  6. Bambi
  7. Dumbo
  8. Cinderella
  9. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  10. Peter Pan
  11. Fun and Fancy Free
  12. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
  13. Saludos Amigos
  14. Melody Time
  15. Fantasia
  16. Make Mine Music
  17. The Three Caballeros
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Old 09-01-2019, 15:53   #58
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#18: The Sword in the Stone (1963)

Oh, dear.

What happened here, Disney? Tackling a story of Arthurian legend should have been easy pickings for you, but instead you chose to deliver this. I was expecting to like this film because I definitely watched it numerous times as a kid and I wouldn't even be surprised if this is one of the films responsible for my fondness for medieval fantasy stories. But honestly, the only thing I really remembered about it before this rewatch was the scene with the squirrel.

The Sword in the Stone tells the story of the wizard Merlin as he meets an orphan boy named Arthur (although everyone calls him Wart). Merlin senses the boy is destined for great things and decides to take him under his wing and help educate him.

That's more or less all the story that Disney decided to go with. The entire film is a strange mishmash of scenes in which Merlin attempts to teach Arthur... things? Usually about THE CIIIIRCLE OF LIIIFE. It mostly just involves turning him into various animals and nearly letting him die each time. There are three sequences which are more or less identical as Arthur is turned into a fish, squirrel and bird. Each one just repeats what came before with a little twist.

The titular "sword in the stone" is mentioned by a narrator at the start and then doesn't get another appearance until the very end of the film when Arthur accidentally stumbles upon it. Stop me if I sound crazy, but I was expecting the story of a film entitled The Sword In The Stone to actually be about that. Instead, this is some strange slapstick comedy in which nothing much really happens (and usually fails to be funny).

Arthur has zero personality, he just does whatever he's told and repeatedly apologises when he does things wrong. He gets upset a few times but nobody seems to really care very much. Merlin's main characteristic is that he's scatty, while his pet owl Archimedes is just a constant grump. This is not a fun bunch to watch. We get a whole hour into the film before the villain makes an appearance (at least, I assume that Madam Mim is the villain?). She finally manages to inject some life into things, and the wizard duel between her and Merlin is the highlight of the whole thing. It's full of creativity and some delightful designs.

I'd say that this may also be the ugliest Disney film so far. The scratchy look due to the xerography animation method continues here but feels heavier, plus the background are really washed out and lacking in detail. I also noticed that animation was recycled a few times throughout the movie which - while I'm sure it saved money - feels lazy.

This could have and should have been a really fun, epic film. I wish that Disney had tackled the story of King Arthur properly in some fashion and picked a more interesting tale... hell, I wish that they had actually put any kind of story in here at all. Really disappointing.

I did love Merlin turning up dressed in modern beach wear at the end though, that was actually funny. ALSO: how much does Gollum/Smeagol's "juicy sweet" song in The Two Towers sound like 'That's What Makes The World Go Round'?



My current ranking:
  1. One Hundred and One Dalmatians
  2. Lady and the Tramp
  3. Pinocchio
  4. Alice in Wonderland
  5. Sleeping Beauty
  6. Bambi
  7. Dumbo
  8. Cinderella
  9. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  10. Peter Pan
  11. Fun and Fancy Free
  12. The Sword in the Stone
  13. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
  14. Saludos Amigos
  15. Melody Time
  16. Fantasia
  17. Make Mine Music
  18. The Three Caballeros
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