Title: The Sword in the Stone
Release Date: December 25, 1963
Director: Wolfgang Reitherman
Production Company: Walt Disney Productions
The Sword in the Stone is an animated adaptation of T.H. White’s first novel based on Arthurian Literature (his work also inspired Camelot a few years earlier). The Disney version distills the rich and detailed novel down to a few scenes in which Merlin becomes the tutor for Wart (young Arthur) and turns him into fish, squirrel, and a sparrow to teach him lessons. The standout scene of the movie is a hilarious wizard’s duel between Merlin and the evil Madam Mim.
As a child, I disliked this movie because it was such a poor adaptation of the novel I loved. As an adult, I am more forgiving and can see the movie’s charm and humor. Still, I think The Sword and the Stone is below Disney standards. The limited animation style betrays the possibilities for the fantastical worlds of Arthurian England. And while Wart’s voice is suitably preteen, it’s odd that he is the only character with an American actor while being voiced interchangeably by three actors.