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The Sword in the Stone

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The Sword in the Stone
The Sword in the Stone 1963 poster
Directed by Wolfgang Rietherman
Produced by Walt Disney
Written by T.H. White (book)

Bill Peet (story)


Starring Rickie Sorensen

Karl Swenson

Junius Matthews

Sebastian Cabot

Norman Alden

Martha Wentworth


Music by Richard M. Sherman (songs)

Robert B. Sherman (songs)

Score:

George Bruns


Editors Unknown


Cinematography Unknown


Studios Walt Disney Productions


Distributors Buena Vista Distribution


Release date (s) December 25th, 1963


Language English


Preceded by 101 Dalmatians


Followed by The Jungle Book


The Sword in the Stone is a 1963 American animated musical fantasy comedy film produced by Walt Disney and originally released to theaters on December 25, 1963 by Buena Vista Distribution. The 18th film in the Disney Animated Canon, the songs in the film were produced by The Sherman Brothers who wrote other Disney movies such as Mary Poppins, Bedknobs and Broomsticks and The Jungle Book. The film is based on the the novel of the same name, first published in 1938 as a single novel. It was published again in 1958 as the first book of T. H. White 's tetralogy The Once and Future King. It is generally considered a modest success from a Disney company standpoint.

Plot Edit

The film begins in England with the death of the king, Uther Pendragon. No heir is named, and so England is threatened to be torn apart by war. Miraculously, the mystical "Sword in the Stone" appears in London, with an inscription proclaiming that whomever pulls it out is the rightful King of England. Many try to remove the sword,but none succeed and the sword is soon forgotten.

Some years later, Arthur (a.k.a. Wart), a 12-year-old orphan training to be a squire, accompanies his older foster brother Kay on a hunting trip. Wart accidentally prevents Kay from shooting a deer, and goes to retrieve the arrow to make up for his mistake. In the woods, Wart falls into the cottage of Merlin, a powerful wizard. Merlin announces he will be Wart's tutor, packs up and the two return to Wart's home, a castle run by Sir Ector, one of Uther's knights and Wart's foster father. Ector does not believe in magic, and refuses to allow Merlin to tutor Wart. Merlin creates a blizzard and disappears, which persuades Ector to let Merlin stay, albeit in a decrepit old tower with countless leaks. Ector's friend and fellow knight, Sir Pellinore, arrives with news about the annual jousting tournament to be held on New Year's Day in London, only this time whose winner would be crowned King of England. Ector proposes that Kay be knighted and compete for the title, despite Kay's obvious ineptitude in both jousting and sword fighting.

Merlin begins his tutoring by transforming Wart and himself into fish and going into the castle's moat. Wart is chased and attacked by a pike, and is saved by Archimedes, Merlin's owl. Wart is sent to the kitchen as punishment after he tried to tell his lesson to a disbelieving Ector. Merlin arrives and magics the dishes to wash themselves. He then takes Wart for another lesson, wherein he transforms Wart and himself into squirrels. Merlin teaches Wart about gravity, and about male-female relationships (as two female squirrels become infatuated with them). When they return to human form, Wart's female squirrel cries sadly when she sees he is really a boy. When they return to the castle, Ector accuses Merlin of using black magic on the dishes. Wart defends Merlin, and Ector punishes Wart by first setting him with a mountain of chores, then essentially told Wart he cooked his goose for "popping off" and choosing another boy as Kay's squire. Wart is devastated, but Merlin convinces him to continue with his education.

For his 3rd lesson, Merlin transforms Wart into a sparrow. Wart then accompanies Archimedes on a flying lesson. Wart is attacked by a hawk and flies down the chimney of Madam Mim, a witch who is a rival to Merlin. Mim's magic uses trickery, as opposed to Merlin's scientific skill. Mim turns into a cat and chases Wart around her cottage. Merlin arrives, having been summoned by Archimedes, and begins to rebuke Mim. Madam Mim challenges Merlin to a Wizard's Duel, a battle of wits where the players try to destroy one another by transforming into different animals. Mim sets several ground rules, including the rules that only real animals may be used (no imaginary ones like pink dragons), and no disappearing. During the battle, both wizards transform themselves into a variety of creatures, such as: a turtle, a rabbit, a caterpillar, a walrus, a mouse, a crab, a goat, a crocodile, a fox, a hen, an elephant, a tiger, a snake and a rhino. Finally, Mim transforms into a purple dragon which is supposed to be against the rules (though Mim notes that she never explicitly outlawed purple dragons). Merlin is able to think quickly, and transforms himself into a germ and infects her. Mim is put to bed, ill, though it is said she would recover in a few weeks.

At Christmas, Kay is knighted, but his squire comes down with the mumps, and so Ector reinstates Arthur as Kay's squire. Wart excitedly tells Merlin and Archimedes the news. But Merlin is disappointed that Wart still prefers war games to academics. Wart tries to explain that he cannot become a knight as he is an orphan, so a squire is the best position he can attain. This aggravates Merlin, who transforms himself into a rocket bound for Bermuda.

Ector, Kay, Pellinore, Wart and Archimedes travel to London for the tournament. Moments before Kay's match, Wart realizes that he has forgotten Kay's sword at their inn, which is now closed because of the tournament. Archimedes notices a sword in a stone in a nearby churchyard, and points it out to Wart. Arthur pulls the sword from the stone, unwittingly fulfilling the Sword in the Stone’s prophecy.

When Arthur returns with the sword, Ector and Sir Bart recognize it as the Sword in the Stone, and the tournament is stopped. Demanding that Arthur prove he pulled it, Ector replaces the sword in its anvil. Kay attempts to remove it himself, but he and none of the other men succeed in removing it. Wart manages to pull it out a second time with ease. The knights all proclaim, "Hail!! King Arthur!!", as the crowd, Sir Ector, and Kay all kneel to Arthur.

The film cuts to Arthur, now crowned king, sitting in the throne room with Archimedes, feeling completely unprepared to take the responsibility of royalty. Overwhelmed by the cheering crowd outside, Arthur calls out to Merlin for help, who arrives (in 20th century attire) and is elated to find that Arthur is the King that he had seen in the future. Merlin tells the boy that he will rise and lead the Knights of the Round Table, accomplishing many amazing feats and becoming one of the most famous figures in literature and even in motion pictures (such as this film and the 2004 film).

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