Movie Review: The Black Cauldron (1985)

Released on July 24th, 1985, this movie is loosely based off the first two books of Lloyd Alexander’s The Chronicles of Prydain series, which was inspired by Welsh mythology. Set in the early Middle Ages, in the land of Pyrdain, an evil horned king rules the land. The horned king wants to secure the land by getting hold of a magic cauldron.

In a small village, a pig farmer named Caer Dalben (FreddieJones), has an oracle telling pig named Hen Wen (Clarence Nash), is afraid the horned king will come after him. Dalben  orders his assistant Taraan (Grant Bardsley ) to take Hen Wen to safety but the pig is captured as Taran daydreams. Taran follows the king’s soldiers back to the castle to free Hen Wen but on the way he encounters Gurgi (John Byner), who wants to help. Taran finally gets away from Gurgi only to be arrested by the guards and thrown into the dungeon. Taran is freed by Princess Elinowy(Susan Sheridan) who is trying to escape and Ffewddur Fflam (Nigel Hawthorne) another prisoner. While trying to find their way out in the catacombs under the castle, the three find the tomb of an ancient king, his sword had magical powers to defeat the horned king. Taran grabbed the sword to arm themselves. They find their way out and are reunited with Gurgi, who tells them that Hen Wen has escaped the guards. 

The horned king (John Hurt)  learns that his prisoners have also escaped, angry, he demands that the Gwythaints bring them back alive. Meanwhile the four follow Hen Wen to Fair Folk, an underground kingdom. They learn that Hen Wen is under their protection and that their king, King Eidilleg (Arthur Malet) knows the location of the cauldron. The four are joined by Doli (John Byner), the king’s right hand man. Doli leads them to the Marshes of Marva while the fair folk bring Hen Wen back to the farm. In the marshes, they learn that the cauldron is in the hands of three witches, Orddu (Eds Reid’s Merin), Orgoch (Billie Hayes), and Orwen (Adele Mali’s-Morey ). Orwen falls in love with Fflewddur at first sight, causing Doli to run away. Orddu will trade the cauldron for the sword. Taran reluctantly agrees. Orddu explains that the cauldron is indestructible and that the only way to break its power is for someone to willingly go in, killing that person. Taran agrees that he will do it but before Taran can climb in and accomplish the mission. They are seized by the horned king and his guards. All but Gurgi are arrested and taken back to the castle. The horned king takes possession of the cauldron and uses it to raise the dead and the cauldron born army.

Gurgi frees his new friends and before Taran can climb into the cauldron. Gurgi goes in, destroying the enemy. The horned king sees that his prisoners have escaped again and goes after Taran, trying to throw him into the cauldron, which in turn, consumes the horned king and destroying the castle. The witches return to take the black cauldron but before Taran gives it over, he asks that they revive Gurgi. With the help of Fflewddur, the witches do as asked. Gurgi is revived and pushes Taran and Eilonwy to kiss. The four return to the farm where Taran is praised for his heroism.

This is still Disney’s darkest films made to date and highly underrated. Most either do not know about The Black Cauldron or just forget it’s existence. I definitly advise to watch it only if your children do not scare easily. While my son was 2, he’s also ways loved scary and it was between this and Curious George daily. Otherwise I would say more appropriate for 10 and older.

Leave a Reply