The seventeenth episode of The Reel Fantasy Podcast featured 1985’s The Black Cauldron, directed by Ted Berman and Richard Rich. Matt and Drew both derived some pleasure from a decidedly darker Disney animated film than the usual.
The Black Cauldron combined the first two books in The Chronicles Of Prydain series – The Book Of Three and The Black Cauldron – by Lloyd Alexander. The books were childhood favorites of Matt’s, and while there were some definite departures in the movie, all in all, it respects the spirit of the series.
The film had an impressive voice cast, including Nigel Hawthorne as Fflewddur Fflam; John Hurt as The Horned King; and Freddie Jones as Dallben The Enchanter.
While The Black Cauldron was a critical and commercial failure upon release, there are many interesting and notable aspects of its production. With a budget of $44 million, it was the most expensive animated film to date. That record is currently held by Disney’s Tangled, with a budget of $260 million. Among the concept art created for The Black Cauldron was work by Tim Burton, which was ultimately not used. It was the first Disney animated film to include computer-generated animation, and also incorporated live action footage of dry ice mist.
Most curious of all, The Black Cauldron is the first Disney animated film to receive a PG rating. After an early screening of the film for test audiences, 12 minutes of footage was removed. Word on the street is, had that footage remained, the film would most likely have received a PG-13 or R rating. The cut footage is reported to have included fairly graphic violence in the form of throats being sliced and faces melting off; as well as a partial-nude shot of the character Eilonwy…a 12-year-old girl!
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