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The Black Cauldron 1985 ***

When Disney get it right, films like Frozen clean up; it’s also  interesting to see what happens when the studio lose their way. 1985’s The Black Cauldron was a very expensive flop; with no songs, a plotline involving the raising of the dead, and a dark tone that led to several sequences being removed, it’s normally posted missing from Mouse House history. Which is a pity, since viewed today, The Black Cauldron is a visually accomplished fairy-tale. Based on Lloyd Alexander’s The Chronicles of Prydain, Ted Berman and Richard Rich’s film details the rise of Taran (Grant Bardsley) a humble boy who is tasked with taking care of an oracular pig. The pig’s visions of the future holds the key to the black cauldron itself, which the Horned King (John Hurt) wants to use to unleash an army of the dead. Taran’s cutsey pal Gurgi, a teddy bear version of Gollum, is about the only kid-friendly element in this dark fantasy, one which looks great and feels narratively fresh; it’s well worth discovering on Amazon Prime.

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