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  • Writer's pictureShannon Heibler

The Sword in the Stone (1963)

Oh gosh what a lovely little side hug of a movie. I don't have a strong memory of it as a kid. I'm reasonably sure it wasn't part of our massive collection of clamshell Disney VHS but who can be certain? I remember watching it a lot in college and being Utterly Charmed by, in order, Archimedes the Owl, Madame Mim, and Merlin. I love fusspot Disney characters so damn much. (Merryweather, babe, I'm looking at you.)


I'm also wacky about the Bill Peet years at Disney. Controlled chaos. Sketchy whimsy. Texture and darkness and LOVE. The character design is so fabulous. Ultimately really clean and simple design but just bursting with attitude and personality. All the play they get out of Merlin's beard. All the movement in Mim's skirt. Wart's posture and slightly off kilter balance. Everything about Archimedes. It's a shame that Peet's script doesn't hold up as well. Just an absolutely pooched third act after such terrific first and second acts. Because, really, who cares about Wart becoming king? We care about his adventures with Merlin!


The songs are bangers, as one expects from the Sherman Brothers, but I found myself really in love with the sound design on this viewing. The pizzicato strings as Mim's spots materialize! The thick plop of the crown on Wart's head.


I am, however, devastated by the poor female squirrel. She hurts every time (really, Merlin, did you have to tell us she chose a mate for life??) as she sobs on top of that tree but tonight, I saw myself burrowing my face into Ben and making happy chirpy noises. We are not similarly doomed but it was hard thinking of myself crying on that branch.



And Mim. Dear Mim. Look, I get she's a baddy but there's something just delicious about a woman knowing she can turn herself into a sexy young woman but choosing to stay an ugly old woman. She also loves what she does. #goals


Cut paper and ink and glue. So much glue.






Takeaways:

-I love this piece. Part of it is that I nailed it but the larger part is that I really needed this distraction this week. It was a pleasure to pick up my x-acto knife every evening and get to work.

-I'm shocked some of those thick ass books (seriously, the books are four and five layers of paper each and some of them are very thick paper) fit in this frame. Good job, frame.

-I love this little world. I can't remember if I've written about it here but I've talked a lot in therapy about how my art is most successful (in my mind) when it's inviting the viewer into a different world and I think this does that very much. I love lino but the depth that cut paper gives me is really hard to ignore.


So this is really hard to say, especially in light of understanding just how good this project is for my world weary brain, but I am going to take a break for about a month. I've got two shows to get up on their feet, 200 miles away and I'm panicking. The good news is that I'll be getting to do creative stuff but it'll be in less than ideal circumstances. I have a lot of hard discussions to have with myself about my career in light of how stressed I am but mostly, I just need to put one foot in front of the other and get through it.


But hey, maybe I'll finish Bill and Ted!


Have a great month. Catch fireflies, eat popsicles, do whatever you love most in summer. My favorite thing is our cool hardwood floors under my bare feet. The. Best.


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