THE BLACK CAULDRON
TARAN AND THE MAGIC CAULDRON
The problem is the timing of when The Black Cauldron was conceived. 1977 was the point when Star Wars (1977) was the biggest thing to hit science-fiction/fantasy ever. This seems to have infected the conception of The Black Cauldron. However, by 1985 the genre had moved on and the film seems to be stuck in an immediate post-Star Wars time warp. Even though it is based on a much earlier series of childrens sword and sorcery fantasy novels by Lloyd Alexander The Book of Three (1964), The Black Cauldron (1965), The Castle of Llyr (1966), Taran Wanderer (1967) and The High King (1968), of which the film meshes the first two books the film still rehashes the same elements that everyone was trying to copy immediately after Star Wars. Thus we have the boy who dreams of being a warrior and is thrown into an epic adventure, the small innocuous creature with valuable information, the plucky princess (one of the films more stimulating characterisations), the evil skull-faced lord who strangles his own minions, even a copycat John Williams symphonic score. Disney are not even above plundering from themselves notably the witches from The Sword and the Stone (1963), bits of Sleeping Beauty (1959) and the foreboding forests of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937).
Unfortunately, the cliches do not amount to a substantial enough working to make The Black Cauldron a particularly interesting film. The period 1966-1989 was largely an undistinguished wasteland for Disney animation and The Black Cauldron is one of their more forgettable ventures into feature animation. Of all modern era Disney films, The Black Cauldron is probably one that has been almost all but forgotten by the public.
Ted Berman and Richard Rich had previously co-directed The Fox and the Hound (1981). Ted Berman appears to have retired after that point. Richard Rich subsequently left Disney and formed his own company where he has made independent animated film such as The Swan Princess (1994) and its five video-released sequels The Swan Princess and the Secret of the Castle/The Swan Princess: Escape from Castle Mountain (1997), The Swan Princess III (1998), The Swan Princess Christmas (2012), The Swan Princess: A Royal Family Tale (2014), The Swan Princess: Princess Tomorrow, Pirate Today! (2016) and The Swan Princess: Royalty Undercover (2017); The King and I (1999), The Scarecrow (2000), The Trumpet of the Swan (2001), Muhammed: The Last Prophet (2004), Alpha and Omega 2: A Howl-iday Adventure (2013), Alpha and Omega 3: The Great Wolf Games (2014), Alpha and Omega: The Legend of the Saw Toothed Cave (2014) and Alpha and Omega: Family Vacation (2015).