The Black Cauldron

Movie review by
Michelle Erica Green, Common Sense Media
The Black Cauldron Movie Poster Image
Popular with kids
Book-based fantasy is darker than much Disney fare.
  • PG
  • 1985
  • 80 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 13 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

The movie is intended to entertain rather than educate.

Positive Messages

The movie offers positive messages about working together and believing in yourself and your friends. That said, characters do rely on weapons to solve problems.

Positive Role Models & Representations

There's clear delineation between good and evil characters. Taran is a brave (albeit initially reluctant) hero. Girls may be frustrated at the non-centrality of the princess, but Princess Eilonwy makes a strong showing.

Violence & Scariness

The Forbidden Forest and the enchanted marsh contain lots of scary creatures. Other scenes feature violent soldiers, skeletons, a dungeon with a tomb, and the menacing Horned King. The hero is faced with death in several scenes. An adorable sidekick throws himself into the black cauldron and dies before being brought back to life.

Sexy Stuff

A voluptuous witch attempts to seduce sidekick Fflewddur; at one point he's turned into a frog and nearly suffocates between her breasts.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drunken loutishness among the Horned King's followers.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this dark Disney animated feature (based on the Prydain books by Lloyd Alexander) will have much greater appeal for those who enjoy ghost stories and war epics than for fans of musical comedy. There are no songs, and even the comic relief involves violent images. The Horned King twice attempts to murder the hero, skeletons come to life and attack people, and witches use magic to hurl objects. For grade-school kids, the cute sidekicks and rapid pace will be appealing, but the many frightening images could fuel many a nightmare. Older kids and preteens interested in fantasy will enjoy the mystical plot.

Wondering if The Black Cauldron is OK for your kids?

Set preferences and get age-appropriate recommendations with Common Sense Media Plus. Join now

Continue reading Show less

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byHolly R. March 27, 2018

The cost of Taran bullying...

The main character Taran bullied the cute Gurgi so badly that when a willing sacrifice is required to destroy the cauldron Gurgi stops Taran and kills himself i... Continue reading
Adult Written byDissy July 5, 2012

A load of nightmares

As a young kid this seriously scared me and it was a little difficult to sit through. I remember constantly watching it however it hit a point every time when i... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byCharlielikesSushi April 28, 2020

Not for super young kids

So, I just watched this movie and loved it, but that's probably because I'm not a young child but I thought it was great. The characters are really co... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bybibliomaniac101 January 16, 2020
oh my word this is one of the most amazing disney movies ever. it has adventure villians and a princess but at the time the type of princess in this mive was ve... Continue reading

What's the story?

THE BLACK CAULDRON follows the adventures of Taran (voiced by Grant Bardsley), an assistant pig keeper in Prydain who longs for adventure. The boy gets more than he bargained for when he discovers that the pig in his care has a gift for prophecy. The evil Horned King wants to use the animal to find the cursed black cauldron, which contains a spirit capable of animating the dead. Trying to save the pig, Taran ends up in the Horned King's dungeon. He hooks up with a princess, a minstrel, and an enchanted sword that helps them escape. Taran decides to find and destroy the black cauldron before the Horned King can use it to raise an army -- but when his plan fails, he finds himself and his friends trapped in the dark castle once again. Meanwhile, the Horned King's forces of evil prepare to destroy Prydain. Only a fierce battle and a tragic sacrifice can save Taran and his home.

Is it any good?

Perhaps the spookiest animated feature in Disney's collection, The Black Cauldron may frighten even fans of Goosebumps and other youthful horror videos. The main character is faced with death several times, while both animal sidekicks survive torture. With the face of a skeleton and a voice somewhere between Darth Vader and the Wicked Witch of the West, the Horned King emanates evil, while his minions act like representations of the Seven Deadly Sins. Prydain isn't exactly an inviting world.

Nonetheless, Taran makes a compelling hero. He starts out fearless because he has little to lose. As he makes friends, however, his concern for Princess Eilonwy (Susan Sheridan) and cuddly Gurgi (John Byner) makes him more cautious, until in the end he's ready to sacrifice his life to save the others. Girls may be frustrated at the non-centrality of the princess, but Princess Eilonwy makes a strong showing -- aside from a screaming fit near the end.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why Taran changed his approach to his quest as he gained friends. How did growing close to others change how much he risked?

  • Why was violence the main course of solving problems? What else could The Horned King or Taran have done?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate