The Black Cauldron came out in 1985 and was a major Disney movie in its day, until it flopped at the box office with critics and regular folks either hit-or-miss on the movie. I heard about it a few years ago, that it was “Dark Disney” and had a somewhat “cult-classic” reputation. Now that Disney+ is here, I finally had a decent chance to see The Black Cauldron for myself. Were people too hard on the film back in the 1980’s, or were they right?
The film is based on a series of books known as The Chronicles of Prydain. I never read them so I can’t compare them together. The main character is not such much a hero, but rather an assistant pig-keeper. The young Taran wants to fight in a war and be a legendary soldier, but he’s stuck tending to a sweet pig named Hen Wen.
However there will be a cause to be a savior. Not so far away, the evil Horned King and his armies are plotting something nefarious. They want to get their hands on the Black Cauldron, a magical device that mainly deals in dark magic. This sinister monarch wants to use the Black Cauldron to create an army of undead beings.
Soon enough, Taran and his oracle pig (as Hen Wen can see answers to life’s mysteries) come into conflict with the Horned King. Against all logic and sanity, Taran survives but he is not in a good place to recover. He meets the beautiful Princess Eilonwy, who wants to meet a brave hero that can help her escape from her imprisonment. But will the two of them and their friends save the day or will the world be cast into darkness?
To be honest, the Black Cauldron was a disappointment. There’s many amazing films that flopped in their day but proved to be quality after-the-fact. This Disney movie is NOT among them. It’s not really bad per se, but it’s kind of bland. And I thought the conclusion happened really conveniently. It’s not exactly scary either, calling it “Dark Disney” is a bit of a joke. It’s certainly a unique film for “classic Disney”, I’ll give you that.