Sword In The Stone (1963)

Genre: Adventure, Animated Adventure | Age: 8-9
sword-in-the-stone-film-review-by-arthur-taussig

AGE RECOMMENDATIONS New Search

Ages 4 & Under -- Probably Not
Ages 5 to 7 -- With Guidance
Ages 8 to 9 -- Yes
Ages 10 to 12 -- Yes
Ages 13 to 15 -- Maybe
Ages 15 to 17 -- Probably Not

Sword In The Stone (1963)

ANIMATED ADVENTURE: 1963, G. Young Arthur (destined to be King Arthur), or Wart as he is derogatorily known to those around him, is a 12-year-old boy who is abused by his adoptive father in much the same way as Cinderella is by her stepmother – he must work in the kitchen and serve Kay, the father’s “real” son. At the beginning of the film, Wart claims to have no education or muscles. As fate would have it, he meets up with a positive father figure, Merlin, who insists that he get a real education. He transforms Wart into a series of animals – a fish, a squirrel, etc. – and Wart is educated by each experience. As a fish, he learns to use brains over brawn. As a squirrel, he meets a girl-squirrel – a practical preparation for a 12-year-old’s transition to being a teenager who knows how to deal with the opposite sex. He also learns that, “love is the greatest force on earth.” With this knowledge, Wart is ready to pull the sword from the stone and become King Arthur. When he does, he immediately forgives his adoptive family for mistreating him and begins his path toward becoming a kind, wise and just king.
VIOLENCE/SCARINESS: In each transformation, Wart is threatened – as a fish he is attacked by a gar, as a bird, by a hawk and a cat. A few jousts between the knights are shown very abstractly. There is a wizard’s duel between Merlin and Madam Mim which is the high point of the film, but could be scary for younger kids.

CRIMES: None.

MORALS, ISSUES & VALUES: Merlin’s challenge is to channel Arthur’s youthful energy so that he may grow up into a wise man. Merlin is a real magician who can do real magic; he is also a wise and positive influence in young Arthur’s life. In Kay’s home, infractions receive “demerits,” but the consequences are never stated. According to the film: Education is necessary for success, not only as a teenager, but also as an adult. Beauty is only skin deep. Mistreatment should be forgiven. Elders are the source of wisdom and education.
SEXUALITY & GENDER ISSUES: Nuclear family. The ugly, insane Madame Mim transforms into a “beautiful” girl who has very large, pointed breasts. The film has a slightly anti-woman feel which may reflect Arthur’s youth – at that age, kids hate girls. However, from Madam Mim’s transformations, young Arthur learns that beauty is as illusory as ugliness.

SUBSTANCES: Merlin occasionally smokes a pipe.

BOOK: T. H. White, “The Once and Future King.”

COMMENTS: Like many 12-year-olds comparing themselves to teenagers, young Arthur sees himself weak and powerless. To make the situation worse, he is feminized (this is solved at the end of the film when he acquires the very male sword): at home he must work in the kitchen at menial tasks, like a girl. Essentially, he is any kid who hates helping around the house. It is the fantasy of many pre-adolescents, who usually see themselves at the bottom of the social heap both in the family and in the world at large, to suddenly become powerful and respected, that is, to become King. “The Sword and the Stone” keys into this fantasy. This superb film is not only a wonderful animation with good psychological advise to youngsters, it is also a good way to get them interested in classic literature.

STARRING: Voices of Ricky Sorenson, Sebastian Cabot, Karl Swanson, Junius Matthews.

ALTERNATES:
“Pete’s Dragon” should entertain kids who like this film.

CONTENT REVIEW (1-5)

Nudity -- 0
Sexuality -- 0
Physical Violence -- 3
Emotional Stress -- 2
Blood or Gore -- 0
Language/Profanity -- 0
Immorality -- 1
Parental Guidance -- 1
Watchability for Adults -- 3
Overall (For Kids of the Appropriate Age) -- 5
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