In a movie where the outcome is never in question, special attention and detail must be put into the journey. Heck, you'd be hard pressed to even find a The Sword in the Stone movie poster, VHS Tape and/or DVD without the climactic scene of Wart pulling the sword from the stone prominently displayed. We all know what's going to happen and no matter how meek, unassuming and physically weak Wart is shown to be, his destiny to rule all of England is etched... in stone (pun INTENDED!). But what kind of King would he make? It's through Wart's journey, especially his more practical education and magical experiences under the tutelage of Merlin the Wizard, that we're given inklings into what 6th Century England has to look forward to under King Arthur's reign.
In his training to become a squire, twelve-year-old Wart is learning the rules of combat, swordsmanship, jousting and horsemanship. However, Merlin knows such activities are folly for a knobby-kneed orphan boy fated to be King and immediately stresses to “develop your brain. Knowledge, wisdom, there's the real power. Higher learning, that's the thing.” And, even though England was mired in a “dark age” with “no law, no order” where the “strong preyed upon the weak,” Merlin set forth to mold a King that will presumably drag the country out of that Medieval mindset. Yes, Merlin was going for a progressive ruler who would have an eye towards the future. That's why exposing Wart to such things like airplanes, locomotives, telescopes and a modern globe – things that man wouldn't know for thousands of years, is so important. Even though these inventions won't be realized in Wart's lifetime, just knowing that these things are possible will drive him to strive towards more era appropriate technological advancements that will surely benefit his kingdom. One such advancement, although not of the scientific ilk, is The Round Table of which Merlin could also take credit for subtly dropping in Wart's mind. This corner-less, headless piece of furniture would ensure that Arthur rules through many voices, not just one.
Merlin is, after all, a wizard and it's through his transformative magic that he'd also make quite the impression on the future King. As fish, Merlin gives a splash course in relativity and physics where “every flick of a fin creates a movement” and that “for every up, there is a down and for every high, there is a low.” This lesson will especially come in handy in the sense that every decision Arthur makes as ruler, no matter how trivial, will have an impact on his subjects. And, while there will surely be low points, they won't last long as highs will always follow and vice versa – the reign of a king is fluid. Also, when the pike tries to eat Wart, he learns to use brain over brawn to ward the bigger, uglier fish off. Because if you can't protect yourself, how can you expect to keep your own people safe? Then, in their romp as squirrels, Wart learns of gravity and caution - “always look before you leap!” But, more importantly, he'll experience the “greatest force on earth” - love or, as Merlin calls it, “discomboomeration.” As the first and second greatest forces on earth, love and gravity are both the “phenomenon that any two material particles or bodies, if free to move, will be accelerated toward each other.” But, it's the way he unintentionally hurts the twitterpated squirrel's feelings that will leave an indelible impression on him and give King Arthur a sense of compassion towards others. Finally, as a bird, Merlin makes Wart's dream of flight come true and shows him that, LITERALLY, the sky is the limit. Merlin wants to instill that sense of awe and wonder in Wart so, as King, he will always strive for the loftiest of goals for his kingdom – no matter how high or out of reach they may seem.
So, although we only see King Arthur as a scrawny and reluctant adolescent in an ill-fitting crown and robe, we still get a sense of what kind of ruler he will likely become. Arthur will, in short, be an intellectual King who values technology and invention while also striving to protect and serve the lower born people (like himself) by applying his knowledge of physics and relativity in an “act local, think global” sense in where he will also love with caution yet dream with wanton disregard for limits and boundaries. However, Merlin also recognized a trait in Wart that couldn't be learned and will probably end up being his greatest attribute: “He throws his heart and soul into everything he does.” So, regardless of where the story of King Arthur and Camelot really went, I have a feeling that the Disney version's future looks pretty good... pretty, pretty, pretty good!
On a more whimsical note...
The inscription on the sword reads: “Whoso pulleth out this sword of this stone and anvil is rightwise King born of England.”
You might have noticed that Wart's voice keeps changing. It's not because of puberty; he was voiced by three different actors.
With both The Sword IN the Stone as well as Sex AND the City, I can't seem to get my “ins” and “ands” straight.
Maybe I'm crazy but during the opening credits when they play the instrumental medley of the soundtrack I couldn't help but be reminded of the music from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (1964). Since they only came out one year apart, I wonder if one inspired the other.
Merlin said it right: “more like the Dark Age age of inconvenience – no plumbing, no electricity!
Like much of Cinderella played out like an episode of Tom and Jerry, all the wolf scenes in The Sword in the Stone evoke that of Wile E. Coyote.
I wonder if Wart's catchphrase of “Wha...? Wait. Whoa!” ever caught on.
With multiple characters using it, one catchphrase that definitely caught on was “Dash it all!”
Merlin's schedule for schooling: Eight hours a day. Six hours for school room and two hours for study period.
Ector's hounds are named Tiger and Talbert.
The name of Ector's castle where Wart lives is the Castle Sauvage.
Archimedes “The Highly Educated Owl” was named for Archimedes the Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor and astronomer.
Merlin was right when he referenced the London Times and said it wouldn't be around for another 1200 years. That would put the story right in the 6th century – when the historical Arthur lived.
It was mentioned before but I don't think “discomboomeration” (Merlin's euphemism for love) caught on like Bambi's “twitterpated.”
For all of Wart's “higher education” he still can't read or write.
During their Wizards Duel, Madam Mim turns into a crocodile, fox, hen, elephant, tiger, snake, rhino and purple dragon while Merlin combats her as a tortoise, rabbit, caterpillar, walrus, mouse, crab, goat, mouse (again) and finally defeats her as a germ – malagalee telopterosis to be exact.
Did Merlin once again turn into a germ to give Hobbs mumps?
When Merlin returns from Bermuda, he's outfitted with Bermuda shorts and red Chuck Taylors.
I like Merlin's explanation of what a motion picture is - “Something like television without the commercials.”