I read the Lloyd Alexander books a few years before seeing the Disney movie. Yeah, I liked the books, and yeah, I was let down by the movie. While it’d be an exaggeration to call the Disney movie epic fail, “Black Cauldron” was to the “Prydain” books what the “Akira” movie was to its original manga: condensed, and not necessarily improved.
Seems you’re on a Cartoon fix now. I just saw The Incredibles. I don’t like most of that CG stuff but that one was surprisingly good and even kind of dark.
On the other hand, then you have the “Land Before Time” series; a product of Don Bluth’s twisted mind, where you have these cute little dinosaur characters AND THEN TYRANNOSAURUS REX EATS THEM.
You make a good point about Disney trying to have it both ways. Indeed, maybe the problem with this movie was that it was Disney making it! It would have been interesting, e.g., to see what would have happened if Miyazaki had picked up on Lloyd Alexander instead of Diana Wynne Jones.
Also: What are you talking about? The guy comes back in the end of “The Iron Giant”, too! Admittedly the characters don’t find that out during the actual movie itself, but it’s not as though the Giant was dead at the end.
Actually Don Bluth did come to mind during a couple of scenes in The Black Cauldron, such as the pig getting captured by the wyverns. It did bring to mind the brutality of the action scenes in The Land Before Time, or to a lesser extent The Secret of NIMH.
Which isn’t really a good thing, because Don Bluth is one of my least favorite animated filmmakers — NIMH and Land Before Time were his only two good films, and even they suffered from his tendency to make the entire movie overbearingly, crushingly sentimental. American Tail totally wussed out on its one really brave idea, and All Dogs Go To Heaven was one of the most reprehensible animated children’s films ever made. Nothing after that is even worth mentioning.
But I digress.
As for the Iron Giant (THANK YOU FOR SPOILING IT, BY THE WAY), these are my thoughts:
1. The Giant’s “death” wasn’t nearly as contrived as Gurgi’s was in Cauldron. In the Black Cauldron, the “noble suicide” was nothing more than a arbitrary plot device played for cheap tension and pathos. Had Gurgi actually stayed dead, or the scene been done with a much better setup, you could make the argument that the scene was trying to make a point about self-sacrifice, or even that heroic adventures involve more than playing hero and dreaming about chivalry and glory — they can end in death! It would have been very interesting in Gurgi’s death had signaled a sort of “childhood’s end” for Taran. But since Gurgi doesn’t stay dead, no price has ultimately been paid, the characters aren’t forced to change in a lasting manner. Its effect and message are almost completely anulled.
At least the Giant’s “death” actually means something asides just a bringing about the climax — it’s a sobering reminder of what logistic and moral failure can cause death and destruction. A large part of the Giant’s character is hope — at first the Giant’s own hope of being something greater than what he was created to be. Later, the Giant becomes the hope of the people as he saves them from certain death. Given that, while it might have been more dramatically effective to have the Giant die, I think it would send a strange message to have the story’s personification of hope die at the very end. So I’m satisfied with the ending, where he is broken for a time, but he endures.
great show (as almost every time). But this is the first time i feel forced to add something to the podcast. 🙂
I saw Cauldron back in 85 over here in germany the way it was intended to be experienced. A big crowded theatre, a brandnew 70mm-print (it was handdrawn in widescreen) and with a bombastic stereo-soundsystem. It was a real blast.
Of course Gurgi was a Jar-Jar (great comparsion you found there btw. 🙂 ), but the rest of the movie – especially the dark forces and the horned king) were really impressive. Some scenes had a very dark touch, especially when Bernsteins score (how could you forgot to mention it????) recites the horned kings theme.
I rewatched it as a bootlegged VHS a few years later – japanese subs and heads at the bottom. Add an awfull sound and picture quality and you see what I´m talking about. 😉
Well, what else could I do? Disney had pulled the movie from all reruns and the video-release was about ten years in the future (1997!!!). At least the bootleg was in widescreen and some of the scary stuff still was interesting to watch.
And that brings me to the point. EVERY official disney-release so far was panned and scanned to 4:3. So you only get to see the middle of some of the best and most impressive atmospheric shots in any Disney movie, since Snowwhite had to run through the bewitched forest. I dunno why the mouse-guys hate this movie so much. 😦
It´s surely not the greatest Disney ever made, but it´s visual style is very interesting and some they even blended the few (the state of the art) CGI shots in way better than some of the recent big budget movies.
Just my two cents….
dia (45, male), duesseldorf, germany
PS: Did anybody see TRON? 🙂
The Horned King: “Soon the Black Cauldron will be mine. Its evil power will course through my veins, and I shall make you Cauldron Born. Yes. Yes. Oh, yes. Then you will worship me! Me. Oh, my soldiers. How long I have thirsted to be a god among mortal men. ”
Well for my monies worth I only got to see the Black Cauldron in the mid 90’s so I can’t say whether or not it was entertaining for a child. As a sub-Tolkien story it works. Mind you I’m judging the films not the books. The thing that struck me about the film was it’s use of silence and weird music effects. The Bernstein score was melodic and other-worldly. As for the cast well, I’ve always had a soft spot for John Hurt and and Nigel Hawthorne so that saves the film in some respects. I however have always felt that the three witches were useless as plot drivers or characters. They weren’t helpful enough to be muses and they weren’t evil enough to be villainous. Taran is useless as the hero but then he was always meant to be. Gurgi was Disneyfied and so deserves everything that’s coming to him. Eilonwy always came across as more heroic than Taran and in an 80’s Disney™ film this is not a good thing. Fflewddur Fflam remains for me one of the best 80’s crap sidekicks that Disney ever produced. The fact that Gurgi managed to upstage him doesn’t him matters.
Dia, if you look on amazon.fr you’ll find the anamorphic remastered edition on DVD, in french and english.
And yes I, like every child of the eighties, have seen TRON. And loved it.
If anyone wants to say they didn’t like TRON as a child, we’ll discuss the matter over a cup of Java and a hot, HOT branding iron.
Someone on another message-board suggested that TRON was due for a re-make. I don’t understand why you would re-make something that is OBVIOUSLY cinematic perfection.
we all used to love these books back when we were in middle school in the early 80s. They don’t hold up all that well. As kids, we all ran wild to the theater to see the movie and, in the end, left disappointed. At this point, I can’t remember a damn thing about either the books or the movie.
The Honda Civic got a TRON-themed commercial, and that’s just fine with me. Someone had a distinct love of the 1980s there, and I like their style.
Here is said commercial. Yes, Jeff?
Though I’m probably the LAST person to bother commenting here, I would like to state “Black Cauldron” was something I begged my mom to take me too 23 years ago, but was given the usual “Eh, it’ll come out on video later” routine as usual, and sadly, it was one that was a terribly long wait for me, to the point I ended up getting a nth generation bootleg of a screener to the film to view, whilst having washed out colors (starting off in black & white the first five minutes in and halfway point), and the usual time codes and “Property of BVHV” stuck on the letterboxed picture. I felt it was worth it.
I can say though the movie could’ve been better. I’ve heard of one of Disney’s “nine old men”, Milt Kahl, having stated on occasions that he felt the studio wasn’t ready to do the film back when the old guys were retiring in the 70’s and a lot of new guys like John Lessetter and Glen Keane entered the door, and the era when the studio was being operated by Ron Miller until the mid 80’s when Katzenburg and Eisner took over. There’s probably full details about these years that can be found online these days such as Wikipedia, though I found a podcast that was put out by Clay Kaytis, “The Animation Podcast”, to be a good source for uncovering some little known memories of those who came and went through the Disney studio years ago.
actually the SATAN picture was the Horned King from the black cauldron