The Sword in the Stone is a 1963 American animated musical fantasy comedy film produced by Walt Disney and released by Buena Vista Distribution. The 18th Disney animated feature film, it was the final Disney animated film to be released before Walt Disney’s death. The songs in the film were written and composed by the Sherman Brothers, who later wrote music for other Disney films like Mary Poppins (1964), The Jungle Book (1967), The Aristocats (1970), and Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971).
The film is based on the novel of the same name, which was first published in 1938 as a single novel. It was later republished in 1958 as the first book of T. H. White’s tetralogy The Once and Future King. The Sword in the Stone was released to theaters on December 25, 1963 to mixed reviews, though it was a box office success.
After the King of England, Uther Pendragon, dies, leaving no heir to the throne, a sword magically appears inside an anvil in London. The sword bears an inscription proclaiming that “whoso pulleth out this sword of this stone and anvil is rightwise king, born of England”. No one can remove the sword, which is eventually forgotten, leaving England in the Dark Ages.
Years later, a 12-year-old orphan named Arthur, commonly called Wart, accidentally scares off a deer his older foster brother Kay was hunting, causing Kay to launch his arrow into the forest. In retrieving the arrow, Arthur lands in the cottage of Merlin the wizard, who declares himself Arthur’s tutor and returns with the boy to his home, a castle run by Sir Ector, Arthur’s foster father. Ector’s friend, Sir Pellinore, arrives with news that the annual jousting tournament will be held on New Year’s Day in London, and the winner will be crowned king. Ector decides to put Kay through serious training for the tournament and appoints Arthur as Kay’s squire.
In order to educate Arthur, Merlin transforms the boy and himself into fish. They swim in the castle moat in order to learn about physics. Arthur is attacked by a pike but is saved by Archimedes, Merlin’s pet owl. Arthur is sent to the kitchen as punishment for trying to relate his lesson to a disbelieving Ector. Merlin enchants the dishes to wash themselves, then takes Arthur for another lesson, turning them into squirrels to learn about gravity. Arthur is nearly eaten by a wolf, but is saved by a female squirrel who falls in love with him. After they return to human form, Ector accuses Merlin of using black magic on the dishes. Arthur defiantly defends Merlin, but Ector refuses to listen and punishes Arthur by giving Kay another squire, Hobbs.
Resolving to make amends, Merlin plans on educating Arthur full-time. However, Merlin’s knowledge of future history causes confusion, prompting Merlin to appoint Archimedes as Arthur’s teacher. When Arthur imagines what it would be like to fly, Merlin transforms him into a sparrow and Archimedes teaches Arthur how to fly. However, during their lesson Arthur is attacked by a hawk and falls into the chimney of Madam Mim, an eccentric, evil witch and Merlin’s nemesis. Mim’s magic uses trickery, as opposed to Merlin’s scientific skill. Merlin intervenes before Mim can destroy Arthur, and she challenges him to a Wizards’ Duel. Despite Mim’s cheating, Merlin outsmarts her by transforming into a fictional germ called “Malignalitaloptereosis” that infects her with a chickenpox-like disease requiring several weeks of bed rest, effectively defeating her and illustrating the importance of knowledge over strength.
On Christmas Eve, Kay is knighted, but when Hobbs comes down with the mumps, Ector is forced to reinstate Arthur as Kay’s squire. This causes a falling-out between Arthur and Merlin, who angrily transports himself to Bermuda when Arthur defends his choices. On the day of the tournament, Arthur realizes that he has left Kay’s sword at an inn, which is now closed for the tournament. Archimedes sees the legendary “Sword in the Stone”, which Arthur removes almost effortlessly, unknowingly fulfilling the prophecy. When Arthur returns with the sword, Ector recognizes it and the tournament is halted. Demanding that Arthur prove that he pulled the sword from the stone, Ector replaces the sword in its anvil. Thinking anyone can pull the sword now, Kay and others unsuccessfully try to retrieve the sword, but it appears as stuck as ever. Sir Pellinore and another knight, Sir Bart, urge the crowd to allow Arthur to try it again, and once again he removes the sword, revealing that he is England’s rightful king.
Arthur, crowned king, sits in the throne room with Archimedes, feeling unprepared to take the responsibility of ruling. Overwhelmed by the cheering crowd outside, Arthur calls out to Merlin for help, who arrives from 20th century Bermuda and is elated to find that Arthur is the King that he saw in the future. Merlin tells Arthur that he will go on to lead the Knights of the Round Table and become one of the most famous figures in literature and motion pictures. /Gjithqka Nga Pak