Movie Review: Black Cauldron

Black Cauldron Trailer

Black Cauldron Summary

In the land of Prydain, Taran, a teenage boy and “assistant pig-keeper” on the small farm of Caer Dallben, home of Dallben the Enchanter, dreams of becoming a famous warrior. Dallben learns the evil Horned King is searching for a mystical relic known as the Black Cauldron, which can create an invincible army of undead warriors: the “Cauldron-Born”. Dallben fears the Horned King might use his pig, Hen Wen, who has oracular powers, to locate the cauldron. Dallben directs Taran to take Hen Wen to safety; unfortunately, Taran’s foolish daydreaming causes Hen Wen to be captured by Gwythaints, the Horned King’s dragon-like creatures.

Taran follows them to the Horned King’s castle and meets the pestering dog-like creature, Gurgi, who wants to be his friend. Frustrated by Gurgi’s antics and cowardice, Taran leaves him. Taran sneaks into the castle and helps Hen Wen escape but is captured and thrown into the dungeon. Another captive named Princess Eilonwy frees him as she tries to escape. In the catacombs underneath the castle, Taran and Eilonwy discover the ancient burial chamber of a king. Taran arms himself with the king’s sword which contains magic that allows him to effectively fight the Horned King’s minions, thus fulfilling his dream. Along with a third prisoner, the comical middle-aged bard Fflewddur Fflam, they escape from the castle and are found by Gurgi. Upon learning that Taran has escaped, the Horned King orders his goblin and chief henchman, Creeper, to send the Gwythaints to follow and capture Taran along with his friends.

Following Hen Wen’s trail, the four companions stumble into the underground kingdom of the Fair Folk who have Hen Wen under their protection. When the kindly King Eidilleg reveals the cauldron’s location, Taran decides to destroy it. Eilonwy, Gurgi and Fflewddur agree to join him and Eidilleg’s obnoxious right-hand man Doli is assigned to lead them to the Marshes of Morva while the Fair Folk escort Hen Wen back to Caer Dallben. At Morva, they learn the cauldron is held by three witches—the crafty leader Orddu, the greedy Orgoch, and the more benevolent Orwen (who falls in love with Fflewddur at first sight). Orddu agrees to trade the cauldron for Taran’s sword and he reluctantly agrees, knowing it will cost his chance for heroism. Before vanishing, the witches reveal the cauldron is indestructible, and its power can only be broken when someone willingly climbs into it, which will kill them. Doli angrily abandons the group. Although Taran feels foolish for trading the sword for nothing, his companions show their belief in him; and Eilonwy and Taran almost kiss as Fflewddur and Gurgi happily watch; until Gurgi spoils the moment after giving Fflewddur a kiss on the cheek. Suddenly they are found by the Horned King’s minions who had followed them. Gurgi runs away before they take the cauldron and the three companions back to the castle. The Horned King uses the cauldron to raise the dead and his Cauldron-born army begins to pour out into the world while holding the trio prisoners in view of the cauldron.

Gurgi, deciding not to abandon his friends this time, sneaks into the castle and rescues them. Taran decides to jump into the cauldron to save everyone, but Gurgi stops him and jumps in instead, killing the Cauldron-born as well as himself. When the Horned King spots Taran, he blames him, saying Taran has interfered for the last time, and throws the youth toward the cauldron. But the cauldron is out of control and consumes the Horned King in a tunnel of fire, killing him and destroying the castle, using up all its powers forever, as the companions escape. 

The three witches come to recover the now-inert Black Cauldron. However, Taran has finally realized Gurgi’s true friendship while hailing him as a hero, and asks them to revive his friend in exchange for the cauldron, choosing to give up his magical sword permanently. Upon hearing Fflewddur’s challenging remarks to demonstrate their powers, the reluctant witches honor the request, returning Gurgi to them. At first, Gurgi appears to be dead but is resurrected; much to everyone’s joy. After they reunite, he pushes Taran and Eilonwy into a kiss. The four friends then journey back home to Caer Dallben where Dallben and Doli watch them in a vision created by Hen Wen, and Dallben finally praises Taran for his heroism.

Black Cauldron Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

While I will give a warning that this is the darkest of the Disney Feature animated films, and well it wasn’t good reviews. We enjoyed it. Now granted my son was 2 when he first saw it and didn’t stop watching it. He loved it. I recommend for dedicated Disney fans and for families who are okay with scary content.

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