Revisiting Disney: The Sword in the Stone (1963)

The Sword in the Stone is one of the last films that Walt Disney himself worked on with the Walt Disney Company before he passed. The film feels forgotten, and yet, still has a strong fan base.

The set up of the film is similar to most that came before it, beginning with the storybook opening. Although, Sword in the Stone is beautiful, visually, there is clearly a lot of reuse of background cells from films such as Sleeping Beauty, as well as the reuse of character movements.

I found that this film has few moments that are actually silent. Throughout the film, there is music played under dialogue and music used to create sound effects. Sword in the Stone is the first of several films to feature music and lyrics written by the Sherman Brothers. Sadly, this film doesn’t seem to have any memorable music. Although the imagery is still used throughout the Disney parks and on merchandise, none of the music from the film really is. Honestly, I only just finished watching the film and I don’t think I could tell you the name of a single song, or hum you the melody.

My favorite thing about The Sword in the Stone, though, is the characters. The characters are just so much fun (except maybe Wart. He’s kind of just…whatever). The character of Merlin is shown as a curmudgeon old man who has the best intentions. Mad Madame Mim, it turns out, is who I have become as I have gotten older. So, that was a fun realization.

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Towards the end of the film, there is a segment where Merlin and Mim have a wizard battle, and it is easily one of the more impressive animation sequences for that time. The way each character smoothly transforms from one form to another is phenomenal.

Even though the music feels forgotten, The Sword in the Stone still stands as one of the more beautifully animated films that Walt Disney Animation Studios has created.

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