As the hype dies down Brian Sibley steps back and takes an objective view of the latest feature cartoon to come out of the Disney Studio.

By a cunning ruse of counting The Many Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh as if it were a feature film instead of a compilation of shorts, Walt Disney Productions were able to announce The Black Cauldron as being the studio’s twenty-fifth animated feature since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1938.

Ten years in the making – reputedly at a cost of $25 million – The Black Cauldron was also confidently described by the Disney publicity men as the zenith of animation art. Well, of course, publicity men are sometimes moved to say such things. In reality, this long-awaited film is probably the finest show-reel of animation effects ever produced, but very little else. Its storyline is seriously flawed, its characters poorly delineated, its dialogue weak and (with the exception of the set-pieces and special effects) the animation is unremarkable and derivative.

[…]