Hey, guys! Dice Rollen here.
In this video wanted to talk about the Disney film The Black Cauldron versus the books it was based on. I’m going to try my best not to spend too much time on one thing otherwise this is gonna be a long ride. I’m also not going to point out every little detail, just the more obvious or important stuff. So let’s not waste time & get right into it.
There’s a lot of differences between the movie & the books. Firstly I’m just sticking to comparisons to the first two books because that’s basically what the movie is suppose to cover. Now, I understand that as a director you can’t fit everything from the book or books into the movie. This has been proven through many different movies made from books. And this is usually because of deadlines & budgets but sometimes it’s because of laziness. In any case, there’s likely to be at least one pissed off fan who will be there to point shit like this out to the creators. And The Black Cauldron is no exception.
Let me start off by saying that I watched the Disney version of this story almost every Halloween when I was a kid. Because there are definitely some scenes that creeped me out. But I always enjoyed watching it & I still enjoy watching it now. So imagine my excitement when I found out that there were books that had been written that Disney based the movie from. I’ll be honest I read The Black Cauldron before I read The Book of Three which means I didn’t read them in order. Yes, I’m sorry but it’s true. But this is because I own The Black Cauldron & had to put a hold on The Book of Three…& I can be impatient.
The movie was released in 1985 & was directed by Ted Berman & Richard Rich. The movie was based off of The Chronicles of Prydain written by Lloyd Alexander in 1964 & continued until 1968.
Now there were a bunch of people who write the script & worked on how the book should be translated to movie form. Yet some how the either cut out or missed quite a bit of important stuff. Anyway, let’s start with the characters.
In the movie we see the old wise mentor, Dallben, is…well old & wise…& basically bald. And that’s fine because in the book he’s said to be 379 years old. But here’s the problem. ‘His beard covered so much of his face he seemed always to be peering over a gray cloud.’ See? Granted though, that that’s a minor thing I guess. But what about our main character, Taran? As far as I can tell there’s little to no description of his physical appearance. However on the covers he’s shown as having kinda long brown hair & all that. In the movie she’s a lovely little blue eyed blonde. Okay, they got the blue eyes right but…she’s described as having reddish gold hair… Okay, okay that aside what about her babble? You know the little glowy, demon ball that’s always with her. It’s pretty much the same from the book except it’s not alive. It’s a glass ball that glows. That’s it. Okay let’s see. He’s a bard in both, tall, lanky, um…long pointed noise? I’ll forgive that. He’s got that lie detecting harp. Okay, so what’s wrong here? It’s the goddamn hair again. Disney for whatever reason just can’t translate hair color very well. In the book he’s blond but in the movie it’s gray & white & shit. How about Hen Wen? Is she any different than the book version? Eh, not really. She’s essentially the same if we don’t read too much into her past. But she actually need tools to tell the future. Like ruins or something, not a bowl of water. And Gurgi? Yeah, he’s pretty much the same. Although in the book he’s subtly hinted at being just a little more human-like. Remember Doli? The fairy equivalent of Grumpy? Well, that’s the major screw up here. He’s not a fairy! He’s a dwarf. And last time I checked dwarves didn’t have wings so Disney seriously fracked this up. No excuse. Okay, so not only is he a dwarf in the book but he’s also described as having red hair & eyes. And he can turn invisible but he has to hold his breath. Jesus, Disney… Also, King Eiddileg? Same idea. He’s really a dwarf too. Not to mention that he wasn’t exactly that happy to help out Taran with Hen Wen like in the movie. Now what about our antagonist? Is he the same? Well, it’s kinda hard to tell. In the book it’s almost like he described as wearing a horned skull mask but he might kinda be human. But in the movie he’s definitely not human & definitely not wearing a mask. I don’t know, either way he’s creepy. Now there are some characters that never even made it into the movie. Like Achren, Gwydion, Coll, Medwin, Arawn & Prince Ellidyr just to name a few. And Creeper? Yeah, I don’t know where the hell they got him.
Now let’s talk about plot & story points. Does Disney do a good job on sticking to the proper order & importance of the books? Hell no! Forgive me if I jump around here & don’t mention these in order. The beginning starts off about the same as The Book of Three…pretty much. At least in the way that we some explanation of character & the importance of what Hen Wen can do & then Taran loses Hen Wen. Okay, fair enough Disney you got that well enough. Now since there’s no Gwydion in the movie Taran goes off on his own to find Hen Wen & encounters Gurgi. Good so far. Skipping ahead to the point where Taran is locked up in a cell in the Horned King’s castle-Wrong! Taran was capture by Achren along with Gwydion & imprisoned in her Spiral Castle. Oh yeah, did I mention Achren is Eilonwy’s aunt? Well she is. Eilonwy also was not technically imprisoned like in the movie. She had gone to Achren’s castle to learn sorcery from her. So…yeah… Besides that Taran was supposed to have saved Hen Wen & gotten her out of the Horned King’s castle in the movie. Buuut, in the book he never even had her, in fact he didn’t know where the hell she was. Anyway, Eilonwy helps Taran escape & they find Fflewddur along the way as well as a magical sword. Okay, so Taran & Eilonwy escaping-yes that did happen in the book. Fflewddur escaping & joining them-yeah, that happened too. Taran finding a dead king’s magical sword-well, technically that was Eilonwy but sure. Skipping even further ahead to the point where they meet the fair folk. This is the part of the movie that has so little to do with the book it’s hard to see how they were trying to follow the book at all. About here is where The Book of Three ends & Disney starts slaughtering The Black Cauldron book. So the four of them go into this swamp to find these witches that are suppose to know where the Black Cauldron is. Already Disney is screwing this up because this doesn’t happen for quite a while after they find Hen Wen. But whatever…they find the witches’ house & go inside & are..well, greeted by the witches.
Here’s another interesting part. In the movie they’re clearly three separate people who are clearly con artist, stereo typical ugly witches. In the book however, they’re suppose to be three…somethings that take turns using these three unattractive bodies. At night they are beautiful women. They also are the ones who found & raised Dallben & gave him The Book of Three. Weirded out yet? Oh & neither of the witches actually wanted Fflewddur. Sorry buddy. So the witches give them the cauldron but not before Taran gives them something. In the movie he gives them the magical sword…uh, no. No, that’s not right… In the book he gives them this enchanted brooch that was given to him by…oh, you know what screw it read the book. Now they have the cauldron & don’t know how to destroy it since someone has to willingly throw themselves in sacrificing themselves to destroy it. At this point in the movie the Horned King’s men find them & take them & the cauldron back to the castle… Go ahead, say it. You know by now this isn’t what happened. In the book they’re captured by some other guy who works for the Horned King. Douche-bag-what’s-his-face, another character you never see in the movie. The Horned King isn’t present during this part, as a matter of fact he’s pretty much done jack shit in the books so far. But now they have no choice but to sacrifice someone to stop the cauldron born & all that shit. So in the movie Taran decides he’ll be the one to make the sacrifice but Gurgi appears & stops him. He instead jumps into the cauldron & kills…or re-kills the cauldron born.
Okay, no. Nonononononono!
In the book Gurgi never does this. Remember that Prince Ellidyr I mentioned before? He’s pretty much a pretentious, self entitled, douche bag bastard through out the whole book but at the last minute sacrifices himself by jumping into the cauldron. I repeat, Gurgi never dies in these books. And Prince Ellidyr doesn’t come back either.
I’m trying to keep in mind that it would be kinda hard to squeeze 450+ pages worth of plot & material into an 80 minute animated film. And an argument you might have is that this is a Disney film. Of course they couldn’t include some of the more violent & disturbing stuff, right? But it says in the books, ‘For children’!
So, how does the movie hold up to the book overall? Disney screwed up royal. I mean, by itself the movie is okay. It’s enjoyable & kinda fun. But when compared to the books it’s really more of an insult. Unfortunately I don’t think a lot of people even know the books exist much less read them anymore. And that’s pretty sad because I’ve enjoyed reading them so far & they’re an interesting look into Welsh lore.
With all that aside. I’d actually recommend you watch the movie & read the books because they’re both pretty cool.
So I hope you enjoyed this video, please like, comment, share & subscribe if you did I really appreciate it.
See ya later.