DVD REVIEW: The Black Cauldron 25th Anniversary Edition
The underrated Disney classic returns to DVD...
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The Disney Studio is known for innovation and trying to reinvent the way animated films are produced and successfully reinvigorated the animation genre with a renaissance that began with The Little Mermaid. But before that, Disney animators took a chance with several new types of technology and a film that they hoped would be the Snow White of their generation, The Black Cauldron. Based on the series of books The Chronicle of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander, the film was the 25th animated feature film from Disney and was an experiment in using a new animation transfer process called APT process (That was used on several films after including The Little Mermaid). Despite its innovations and some fairly positive reviews, the 1985 film was a financial failure in the US due to its dark subject matter and a first ever PG rating for an animated Disney film.
Regardless of the film’s past issues, many fans, including myself, still hold the film with great regard as it still manages to present anb exciting fantasy story with likeable characters and a delightfully evil villain, The Horned King. The film returns to DVD once again in the new The Black Cauldron 25th Anniversary Edition DVD. Looking better than it has ever looked before on home video, the film has been digitally remastered with a new 16x9 Widescreen presentation and a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound audio track.
The story centers around a young boy named Taran, who dreams of adventure, but is stuck working as an assistant pig keeper for a very important little pig named Hen Wen. He doesn’t know how important until Hen Wen is abducted by the minions of the evil Horned King, who hopes to use the pig’s power of foresight to locate the mythical Black Cauldron which he hopes will give him the power to unleash an undead army to conquer the world. After he is captured, Taran encounters two new friends, Princess Eilonwy and the bard Fflewddur Fflam. After they escape they run across a curious creature named Gurgi and the group sets out to save the land of Prydain from the Horned King’s evil once and for all.
The new DVD carries many features over from the previous released including the Donald Duck cartoon shor “Trick Or Treat”, A Still Frame Gallery, and the DVD game “The Quest For The Black Cauldron”. The DVD loses the original theatrical trailer for the film that was included before, but gains and additional game called “The Witches’ Challenge”. The last and most important new feature is the Deleted Scene called “The Fairfolk” which presents and extended and alternate look at the scene from the film. What is interesting about this scene is that they completely changed the look and personality of the Fairfolk characters in the final version from what was originally intended, making them much more cute and goofy and I certainly prefer the original.
With Blu-Ray quickly becoming the go-to format, it’s surprising Disney would release another DVD of a classic film instead of a Blu-Ray/DVD combo like many other films have been getting. There certainly enough extra content including cut and edited sequences and the only explanation is that much like the rumored Alice in Wonderland Blu-Ray next year (which follows the Un-Anniversary Edition released this year), Disney wants to get one more release out for each film before it’s High-Def debut. Regardless, The Black Cauldron 25th Anniversary Edition is a great testament to the variety and quality of Disney Animation. The Black Cauldron 25th Anniversary Edition DVD is available now from Disney Home Entertainment
Review by Michael Klein