What is it about?
The Sword in the Stone is the story of Arthur becoming King of England. We begin with the death of the King, leaving no heir and a sword inside an anvil awaiting the right wise King to pull it out. Without no king, England falls into the Dark Ages. The audience meets an orphan boy, Arthur hunting with his foster brother. He is treated poorly by those who care for him and is scrawny and shoved aside. Despite the disgust he gets from his adoptive family, Arthur is eager to please and therefore, retrieves an arrow – meeting the wizard, Merlin. Merlin has seen the future and offers to be Arthur’s tutor. Merlin convinces his family to teach Arthur, while they focus on training the oldest son for the jousting contest to decide the next King of England. Merlin first teaches Arthur about physics, but also how to rely on intellect over brawn to overcome situations. Arthur tells his adoptive father about the events of the day but is punished due to his disbelief. Merlin enchants his chore to take Arthur on another lesson. He teaches this time about looking before you leap. After the lesson, Merlin is accused of black magic and Arthur loses his right to squire his older brother at the jousting event. Now being taught full-time by Merlin, Arthur dreams of flying and is transformed into a sparrow. However, he is attacked by a hawk and falls into the hands of Madam Mim who uses black magic and trickery. She challenges Merlin to a wizard duel and cheats – but Merlin wins using knowledge over strength. Due to a series of events, Arthur becomes the squire of his brother again; infuriating Merlin leaving the wizard to abandon him. During the contest, Arthur forgets his brother’s sword and pulls out the one from the anvil. Bringing it to the tournament, they recognize it and place it back – trying to disprove that Arthur was capable of doing it. Many try to pull it again and after Arthur attempts again, he is hailed the King. Overwhelmed, Merlin returns to him and leads Arthur to his bright future.
Internet opinions do not favour the Sword in the Stone highly. I can get why – it is the legend of King Arthur. Does this film do the story justice? Probably not. Does the story introduce kids to several moments in History? Yes – at most it will start a conversation and a history lesson. Heck, I think anyone wants a movie to start a topic with their kids or be able to introduce them to things in history. That’s why we have movies about the Wars and historic people so it is always in the mind of the youth. Is this a bad adaption of King Arthur? Probably. Do I hate on it? No way. It’s a whole bunch of nonsense, no corresponding scenes threaded together to make a movie but it is fun. If you don’t like one tone for very long, this is the movie for you. It is constantly shifting tones, adding sprinkles of humour at every bit. I love the “lessons” – this film actually focuses on giving core teachings to both the protagonist and the audience. Arthur grows a person – he takes interest in these things but also capable of standing up for himself at the end. He defies Merlin and says how important it is for him to do something for his family. This is the family who don’t treat him with any shade of kindness and yet, Arthur still adores and seeks their approval. He knows he has to work hard – by doing the dishes, and pay his dues. This core magnifies Merlin’s lessons. Plus, it introduces us to Archimedes. By far, one of the best owl characters since Bambi. I think there was a period where most Disney films feature owls. I like this movie despite its flaws because it tries to have a good heart and message. It takes a source material with a light tone. While it might be the best telling of the story, it is a favourite of mine.
- Brain over Brawn – He is taught this twice in the film. Arthur must use his wits to outsmart his adversity in the fish scene. He learns that not always strength will get you out of a situation. Arthur also see how to use your intellect to your advantage against someone who will take all the opportunities to be better than you. Madame Mi cheats, she lies and she thinks she is clever. Her confidence and shallow pride is her downfall. We learn that using your intellectual and knowledge against someone’s own flaws can outsmart then. She is so confidence and Merlin uses that pride against her. In this note, we also learn that “brawn” should be used in times when work is required of you.
- Don’t try to use the easy way out of situations. Following on from the top lesson, Merlin’s pride in his intellectual leads to Arthur’s downfall as well. Arthur’s willingness to do this dishes by hard work is undermine by Merlin’s enchantment. For failing to do his work, he is punished and loses something important to him. Arthur learns that if you want something or something is required of you, you can’t take shortcuts. You have to put in the effort and the work. His older brother puts in the training to become a jousting champion. Hard work can pay off and you need to know your responsibilities. Mi’s cheating is also the “easy” way out which leads to her defeat. It pays to serve your dues.
- Look before you leap – Arthur learns that he needs to think before he acts. He learns this by standing up for himself and being a squirrel. He defies Merlin (speaking without thinking), losing his companion. He also learns that charming the lady squirrel (doing without thinking) has consequences. You have to be careful of your actions and be prepared to face the fallout of them.
- Based on The Sword in The Stone by T.H White
- Arthur was voiced by three actors, leading to noticeable changes of voices between scenes.
- The final animated film to be released before Walt Disney’s death
- Sixth highest grossing film of 1963
- Movie will be kept in DVD collection
- 7.5/10 for personal enjoyment
- 6/10 for overall era