The Sword in the Stone

The Sword in the Stone is based on the 1938 novel The Sword in the Stone by T. H. White. It hit theatres on Christmas day in 1963. This was the last film Walt Disney would have the opportunity to see released in theatres before his death nearly three years later on December 15, 1966.


As the Golden Age nears an end, we see the dwindling of these movies being used in other areas of Disney. For Sword in the Stone we have the actual sword in the stone at both Disneyworld and Disneyland. It is also very common to see the scene from the film where the sword comes out of the stone in many of the Disney animation clip reels.


The Sword in the Stone, like Sleeping Beauty, has very stylized animation. The color pallets are dark and foreboding at times and wild and energetic at times. The backgrounds use a style where the coloring is often outside the line. And the characters have a look to them that is a bit different than the characters of the past movies. Arthur has a similar body style that we will see with Mowgli in the next movie.


It is a bit surprising that we don’t hear some of these songs in the typical Disney music rotation. There are a few fun and memorable songs that could be as iconic as Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo or Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. But they are sung by some obviously untrained voices which may be their downfall.


The story of The Sword in the Stone is a mixed bag. There is very little story to tell, so the advancement of the plot in the film is largely unimportant events. They can be humorous or exciting, but completely unnecessary. At the same time some of the characters lack any real motivation for their actions. This is especially true for Merlin. His role is similar to the Genie in Aladdin, but without the lamp and servitude baked in. The plot itself feels very reminiscent of Cinderella. It almost feels like Cinderella for boys.


I was very pleased with the humor of Merlin. I thought he rivaled the dwarves of Snow White in the originality of his jokes. This would have been better as a thirty-minute short rather than a full-length feature. The forcing of events to make this as long as it was made it feel a lot like the package films from the forties. This may be stitched together better, but I would not be surprised if this started as four separate cartoons. It’s a shame that Disney worked on this in the sixties rather than the forties because I would have preferred this to be paired with Sleepy Hollow and Wind in the Willows be given the full-length feature treatment.


Run Time – 79 Minutes

36th Academy Awards

– 1 Nomination

– 0 Wins

Best Scoring of Music

– Adaptation or Treatment

- Nominated

Disney Animated Canon so far in order of Quality

1. Lady and the Tramp 6-22-1955

2. Peter Pan 2-5-1953

3. One Hundred and One Dalmatians 1-25-1961

4. Dumbo 10-23-1941

5. Cinderella 2-15-1950

6. Pinocchio 2-7-1940

7. Sleeping Beauty 1-29-1959

8. The Adventure of Ichabod and Mr. Toad 10-5-1949

9. Make Mine Music 4-20-1946

10. Fun and Fancy Free 9-27-1947

11. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 12-21-1937

12. Saludos Amigos 8-24-1942

13. The Sword in the Stone 12-25-1963

14. Alice in Wonderland 7-26-1951

15. Melody Time 5-27-1948

16. Bambi 8-13-1942

17. Fantasia 11-13-1940

18. The Three Caballeros 12-21-1944

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