5 questions we still have for “The Sword in the Stone”
Disney’s The Sword in the Stone, released on Christmas Day in 1963, is in my top 10 favorite Disney animated films. It’s an underrated movie for a slew of reasons – most notably because it fits so perfectly right in the middle of Disney’s darker period, possessing an obvious historical context paired with the magic only Disney can provide. The songs are also perfect.
The Sword in the Stone’s message is pretty clear, and a solid one: Anyone can be destined for greatness. But upon re-watch, there are admittedly a few things I need to know a little bit more about.
What is the deal with Merlin hauling up a bucket of water by hand?
The very first character we meet is Merlin – you know, the most famous wizard of all time – and what is he doing in his introductory scene? Hauling up a bucket of water from a well. By hand.
And then he spills it all over himself and trips over the chain on the way back to his hut.
For a wizard, he’s pretty clumsy, but seriously…why not use magic here? I get that he might not want to use it all the time in front of people who know who he is so he doesn’t look like a show-off, or in public to protect his identity, but he’s in the middle of the woods. Plus, if anyone was around, they’d know who he is on account of the fact that he’s dressed like a literal wizard. A little magic would go a long way in this situation. Also, as the rest of the movie shows, it’s not like he’s opposed to using magic for things you can technically do without magic. Take traveling back from vacation in Bermuda, for example. Magicked.
Why does this poor boy have to be called Wart?
Poor Arthur. He’s the sweetest little boy who just wants to be accepted, and what does he get in return from his gross foster-brother, Sir Kay? The nickname “Wart.” Rude. This is never explained, but I’m assuming it’s because he’s like a wart on Kay’s foot, or hand, or face. Which makes no sense, because all he wants to do is help. I guess, as an older sibling, I can see where Kay is coming from since Arthur does have a mouth on him. But really, is he ever wrong?
What is Merlin’s past relationship with Madam Mim?
While he’s transformed into a bird, Arthur ends up in the hut of the witch Madam Mim. Merlin shows up and Mim slaps him around the face, but he barely flinches, like he’s used to it. So what is the deal here? I think they’re probably exes, and I think Merlin ended it. I would bet money on Mim having cheated on Merlin, considering the only rule for their wizards’ duel that he outlines is, “Rule 4: No cheating” right after she says, “Rule 3: No disappearing.”
Am I the only one reading the subtext here? Since it’s a kids’ movie, I’m going to say probably. But I want a Madam Mim spin-off story, regardless. She doesn’t get enough attention among the Disney villain canon, and she might be the most villainous of them all.
Archimedes: Owl, or transformed human?
Like in many other Disney movies, The Sword in the Stone contains a mix of animals who can talk and those who can’t. Archimedes, Merlin’s sassy pet owl, is the only animal in the movie who speaks in actual sentences; the other animals (like the wolf who tries to eat Arthur at the beginning of the movie, and the female squirrels Arthur and Merlin meet during their gravity lesson) have obvious personalities and can communicate, but don’t speak with words.
Does this mean Archimedes used to be a human, who was transformed into an animal and decided that staying an owl was living his best life? Instead of just being named for the Greek mathematician, is he the actual Archimedes, who is now living an immortal life? Considering Merlin and Madam Mim proved that animal transformation is a possibility, paired with some of the things Merlin puts Archimedes through, I wouldn’t rule this out.
What happens to the little girl squirrel?
And speaking of animals who may or may not actually be humans, I refuse to believe the little girl squirrel who crushes on Arthur never sees him again. I have read too many romance novels and teen magazines to accept this as reality, so I’d like to know what happens to this girl squirrel who is immensely heartbroken when Arthur leaves her to be human again.
In fact, I hope the little girl squirrel also gets transformed into a human and that in the sequel The Sword in the Stone 2: Arthur’s Happily Ever After*, she is, in fact, Guinevere – who, to get back at Arthur for his childhood shenanigans, runs off with the wolf (who is really Lancelot), in The Sword in the Stone 3: Nice Guys Finish Last*. I can, dream OK?
*Not a real thing/only real in Jen’s mind