Thursday, November 30, 2023
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The Sword in the Stone (1963) Review

I think it goes without saying at this point that I hold no nostalgia whatsoever for Disney movies. Their animation is borderline enjoyable at times, yet the stories they look to highlight in many of their tales are not in the slightest bit of interest to me. A real shame indeed, but when it comes to the films I may enjoy somewhat, it’s nice to see that Disney are equally prepared to let me down. The Sword in the Stone managed to survive its surprisingly short running time by being competent at best, but even competency can’t save it from being a completely bland, pedestrian and uninspired film.

Following the legend of Arthur, The Sword in the Stone is a completely forgettable film, so forgettable in fact that all I can remember about the film is that the plot is more or less started and finished within the last five minutes of the film. Disney has somewhat of an assertive tone when it comes to their endings, but this one feels rushed and trivial at best. Mostly forgettable characters line the barebones plot in as simple a manner as possible. The only real characters of note are Merlin and his owl, Archimedes, which offer up minorly enjoyable scenes every now and then. Stomach churningly poor comedy is littered throughout, and Merlin is responsible for most of it.

What cannot be denied though is the strong animation style, a staple of Disney for more or less a hundred years at this point is their ability to craft well rounded worlds in which the characters live. The Sword in the Stone is extremely generic in that regard though, nothing but bland castles, cliché pinpoints of the most recognisable fantasy elements and on the whole nothing of real merit or interest that would convince me that there’s an ounce of originality in the designs.

There’s certainly no originality to be found in the plot, which relies on a handful of set pieces multiple times, just set in different environments. How many times Merlin changes Arthur into a different animal is lost on me, but there was not a single time where I thought it was even the slightest bit interesting or engaging. It’s very much a film that will bank on the nostalgia people hold for the standard Disney affair, but lacking the rose-tinted glasses, I struggle to see the appeal of The Sword in the Stone.

Maybe I just hate animation, or maybe I was deprived as a child since I never got to witness first-hand the great works that appear in The Sword in the Stone until I was hitting twenty years of age. Either way, I’m sort of glad I didn’t grow up on Disney cartoons, and each time I plunge into one, it makes me more confident in the fact that I am missing nothing of interest whatsoever.

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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