The Sword in the Stone



Delightful classic brings Arthur legend to life.
Parents recommend
  • Review Date: January 10, 2005
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1963
  • Running Time: 79 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Wart/Arthur is often bullied but never becomes a bully himself. Merlin instills in Arthur the importance of a good education and teaches life lessons -- courage, the power of love, and the importance of brains over brawn -- creatively. Also addresses the importance of fair play in competition.

Positive role models

Arthur (Wart) is one of the world's most famous heroes. He goes on to become the great King Arthur of the legendary round-table. Disney does a great job in showing how he got there, and as we all expected to find, Arthur was a good, moral role model from the very beginning.

Violence & scariness

Wart is often punished by his guardian and bullied by Kay.

Sexy stuff

Addresses the power of crushes to hurt feelings.


The bad witch Madam Mim has some words for Merlin, but it's never too harsh.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the main character experiences some bullying, but otherwise the film offers lots of positive lessons about courage, the importance of brains over brawn, the importance of fair play, and the power of love.

What's the story?

Based on the book The Once and Future King by T.H. White, THE SWORD IN THE STONE is the story of the early years of King Arthur. Nicknamed \"Wart,\" the future King Arthur is squire to a knight when he meets Merlin the magician, who promises to take on his education. Merlin turns him into a fish, a bird, and a squirrel to teach him lessons like the importance of brains over brawn. He gets to see this in action when Madame Mim, Merlin's enemy, challenges Merlin to a duel by magic, and, though she cheats, Merlin is able to defeat her. Wart still has his duties as a squire, and, having forgotten the sword for a jousting match, he runs to get it. He sees a sword stuck in a stone and pulls it out, not knowing the legend that whoever will pull the sword out of the stone will be the rightful king. He becomes King Arthur, and listens when Merlin reminds him that knowledge is the real power.

Is it any good?


The Arthur legend has fascinated people for centuries, and this story about Arthur's childhood has special appeal for children. Aside from the fun of seeing what it is like to be a bird, a squirrel, or a fish, and from having your very own wizard as a teacher, there is the highly satisfying aspect of having one's worth, unappreciated by everyone, affirmed so unequivocally.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what made Arthur the one who could pull the sword out of the stone?

  • What did he learn from his adventures with Merlin?

  • How will what he learned help him to be a good king?

  • How did Madame Mim cheat?

  • How did Merlin fight back when she did?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 25, 1963
DVD release date:June 16, 2008
Cast:Karl Swenson, Norman Alden, Rickie Sorensen
Director:Wolfgang Reitherman
Studio:Walt Disney Pictures
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Book characters
Run time:79 minutes
MPAA rating:G

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byadvocatewhat'sright December 26, 2012

Another innocent classic with an underdog moral.

I love this movie. It's one of the great Disney movies from when Walt Disney was still alive. It really shows. Disney doesn't make 'em like this anymore. Nothing violent or scary. No drinking. No bad language. No explicit sex. No product placement. Just a great feel-good movie. In my top 12. 9.5/10
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Parent Written byanna4391 September 13, 2014

Good, not great, maybe scary for preschoolers

My 4 year olds thought a few parts were funny (whenever Arthur was changed into an animal, for instance), but the plot itself was not terribly interesting to them. They also found some scenes to be a little scary, especially the scenes involving the witch and when Arthur-the-fish is almost eaten by a toothy fish. Nothing too bad, but I thought the story ended rather abruptly, and it wasn't clear to me that my kids recognized that Arthur had "earned" the throne in the end. I think perhaps kindergartners might get a bit more out of this. My other issue is when the witch shape-shifts into a buxom beauty for a few moments and talks about how she now looks "beautiful." The new form she's taken has a 4" waist and seriously gigantic breasts, and I thought that part was a bit overdone and wasn't sending my daughters any great messages.
Parent of a 8 year old Written bylibrarian4little1s April 9, 2008


My five-year-old adores knights and he loved this. I am extremely selective about what he sees, and can really say that this film is unique in the sea of kid's film. Great music, plot, message, language, humor, everything. I recommend it highly!!


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