Cover - Black Cauldron

This particular Disney animated feature is from that period of slump between golden ages: after those classic features supervised by Walt himself, and before the present golden age, of which Beauty and the Beast was the first flower. Although a relatively pleasant and undemanding viewing experience, it is, to my way of thinking, a strong contender with The Jungle Book for a Disney animated movie feature which bears only the barest and most coincidental resemblance to the source material it was based on – in this case, Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain cycle. In this instance, names and characters are retained, and a few plot elements and situations from a cycle of five books are wrenched from their original settings and bolted hastily together in service to a standard-issue quest and finding yourself plot. The animation is pleasing in it’s workmanship, there is a certain amount of mild humor, some rather scary bits involving the Horned King and his minions, and you certainly can’t go wrong with an oracular pig. At the age of eight or so, my daughter loved it. However, this production has kind of going-through-the-motions-by-rote air about it; as if the producers at Disney realized that here was this wonderful best-selling bit of kid-lit out there, and they were in the business of doing animated movies based on popular kid-lit, so better get busy and crank it out because that was what everyone was expecting. There is pretty much the same perfunctory feeling about this release; a 25th Anniversary Logo on the cover, inclusion of the original theatrical trailer, a single deleted scene, a game, and a still-frame gallery.

Seriously, I wonder what Peter Jackson would have made from the Prydain books – at least three live-action movies with killer CGI effects and been packing them in by the million, I’m sure.

The Black Cauldron 25th Anniversary edition is available from and other commercial outlets.

Sgt. Mom is a free-lance writer and member of the Independent Authors Guild who lives in San Antonio and blogs at The Daily Brief. Her Adelsverein Trilogy is also available through More about her books, including Daughter of Texas, due for release in April 2011, is at her website

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