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Throwback Thursday: The Sword in the Stone

Disney has been a staple of most Americans' childhoods.  Since I spent a good portion of my childhood in West Germany, I did not get to see all the same movies as my stateside peers.  (It took a lot longer for things to cross the Atlantic Ocean in those days!)  But I watched everything I possibly could.  I loved Sleeping Beauty (mostly because of Maleficent and the scene where Aurora dances with her animal friends dressed up in Prince Phillip's clothes), Cinderella (another supreme villainess and adorable mice, especially Gus), and Robin Hood (Oo-de-lally, it's my second most-fave!), but the Disney animated classic that was (and remains) my favorite is The Sword in the Stone

The 1963 film is based on the 1938 book by T. H. White.  It was my first introduction to the legends of King Arthur.  A gangly, clumsy kid named Wart learns the value of education from Merlin the wizard.  And then he becomes king of all England because his scrawny arms pull a sword from a stone.  Magic abounds -- Merlin packs everything in his entire house into one small bag, Merlin's highly educated owl pal Archimedes can TALK (who-who, what-what), humans are transformed into fish, squirrels, and birds, the dishes are washed in a magical assembly line (One of my daily chores was washing dishes by hand, so I LONGED for this kind of magic).  And then there's Madam Mim!  Her wizards' duel with Merlin is the highlight of the film.  It's a battle of wits paired with shape-shifting.  Plus Merlin's animals always have a hint of his mustache!  But do you know what the best part really, truly is?  The main message of the film is that magic doesn't solve problems.  Only using your brain can do that.  Well, blow me to Bermuda!  That's a powerful message, indeed.

1. Bill Peet -- author, illustrator, Disney Studios animator -- first brought the novel to Walt Disney's attention in 1939, and Disney obtained the screen rights.  Story drawings began in 1949, but the movie wasn't finished and released until December 25, 1963.  Talk about a long creative process!
2. Walt Disney was Bill Peet's model for Merlin.  Peet saw them both as argumentative, cantankerous, but playful and very intelligent. He also gave Merlin Walt's nose.
3. This was the last animated film that Disney produced, since he died during the production of The Jungle Book (1967).  It was also the last film with Bill Peet as a writer.

If you love stories of magic, make sure you take a look at these two summer reading lists -- Magical Novels and More Magical Novels!

Did you miss last week's post in this series? Take a look at Throwback Thursday: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.


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