Jen Juneau
June 19, 2016 6:00 am

The Black Cauldron is the Disney animated movie that came out the year I was born: 1985. Coincidentally, it is also the only film I’ve discussed for this column that I hadn’t seen at least once all the way through before writing its installment. I don’t know why I never got around to watching it – I just never owned the VHS, so maybe I’ll blame that, but I have regrets now because it’s great. It’s like The Princess Bride meets Labyrinth meets The Legend of Zelda meets Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny (we’ll get to that later), so really, where is the downside?

It does seem like The Black Cauldron was the last of Disney’s dark period before the couple of feel-good late-’80s films that came out before The Little Mermaid started breaking all the rules. And admittedly, my five questions this week are more innocent than those of my past column installments, considering I’m a Black Cauldron newbie. But that just makes it more fun, right?

Does the Little Girl Squirrel from The Sword in the Stone make a cameo?

Right after the opening credits, a cute little squirrel runs across the screen in very Disney-canon fashion. But this is a special squirrel. It glances around not as if curious, but as if lost.

And then it turns around and you get a good look at its cute little face and GASP – it looks quite a lot like the Little Girl Squirrel from The Sword in the Stone, just with a good dye job.


If you don’t recall, Arthur drops the Little Girl Squirrel like a bad habit and we all feel bad for her, because she totally deserved better. But WHAT HAPPENS TO HER? Apparently, she goes to live in Prydain and is doing totally fine without a future-king boyfriend so BYYYEEE, ARTHUR.

Why wasn’t there a sequel?

Apparently, The Black Cauldron was loosely based on a series of fantasy novels I hadn’t heard of before watching this movie called The Chronicles of Prydain, by Lloyd Alexander. However, Wikipedia tells me the movie took from only the first two books of the series, of which there are five total. So why was another film not made to tie up the rest of the story? Did the first film not do well enough (I take partial credit for this, sorry Black Cauldron sequel desirers) to warrant this? I kind of need to know about Taran and Eilonwy’s happily-ever-after status.

What the heck is Gurgi?

In the Prydain series, Taran’s Jar Jar Binks-esque sidekick Gurgi is described as part man and part beast, but not much else. In the movie, he looks like a dog…kind of. Like Nana from Peter Pan and Falkor the Luckdragon from The Neverending Story had a baby. But what creatures came together to make this dude? Or is he his own species? Also, as someone on Tumblr disturbingly pointed out, his face looks exactly like Geppetto from Pinocchio.

This raises so many sub-questions, like…Did Geppetto have an animal girlfriend in the form of maybe the Bumble from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (and if so, OMG THE BUMBLE WAS A GIRL!?)? And if Geppetto IS Gurgi’s dad, does this mean a wooden-puppet-turned-real-boy and dog/human hybrid are half-brothers? Third-brothers? What kind of offspring does Pinocchio even classify as? Is their family therapy for this kind of thing? Can someone please at least make a parody Jerry Springer and/or Maury video of them hashing it out?

I’m over-thinking this and I’m sorry.

Why isn’t Eilonwy an official Disney Princess?

So fine, Eilonwy isn’t the MAIN character in The Black Cauldron, which doesn’t qualify her to be an official Disney Princess per se. But think about it: Princess Jasmine isn’t the main protagonist of Aladdin, and she counts (as she should), because she’s an actual princess.

So why not Eilonwy? She IS a princess, and she’s sassy, independent, and imaginative. Plus, she kind of saves Taran’s life by finding a secret trapdoor and freeing him from the prison after his best idea is to bang a rock against the wall and cry (COME ON, TARAN). She’s basically a medieval Luna Lovegood, who would be a Disney Princess if Hogwarts had such things.

What’s up with this live-action version?

So it sounds like we might be getting a live-action version of The Black Cauldron. I feel like a Muppet Gurgi would be way cooler than a CGI one, but I know I’m chasing pipe dreams with that one in this millennial world, and also still probably just missing David Bowie a lot.

No word on whether the live-action Horned King will give us nightmares, but judging by his animated counterpart, I’m going to go ahead and wildly guess the answer is “probably.” Not gonna lie: I’m already fan-casting Dave Grohl as the Horned King, because of his not-entirely-Charlie Daniels-uninspired final scene in Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny.

Oh, and Ian McKellan as Fflewddur Fflam because OBVIOUSLY (I’m not sorry about this one).