July 22, 2015
Disney to remake The Sword in the Stone as a live action movie
by Nick Davies
Fans of Arthurian legend, rejoice: a live-action adaptation of The Sword in the Stone is coming from Disney, and from a writer who’s worked extensively in the medieval/fantasy genre. Borys Kit writes for the Hollywood Reporter that Bryan Cogman, a writer and producer for HBO’s Game of Thrones, will write the script for the upcoming film.
The live-action feature is a reboot of the animated Disney movie from 1963, the last film by the studio released before Walt Disney’s death. Both movies are loosely based on T.H. White’s novel by the same name, which would become the first volume in his larger collection, The Once and Future King—which, of course, takes its inspiration from the legends of King Arthur that date back centuries to medieval British literature and oral tradition.
There are a few ways to go with an adaptation like this. It’s unlikely that it will be an especially faithful rendition of the 1960s film, which suffers from a meandering plot that just sort of stumbles upon its conclusion after 79 minutes. It’s more probable that Cogman will go back to source material like White’s novel and present a more serious, doom-and-gloom take on the story, more of an action-adventure that highlights what they can do now with special effects.
Still, it would be kind of a shame if the new film were strictly a grim retread of the familiar legend of King Arthur and Excalibur. I, for one, would be disappointed if Archimedes turned out to be a realistic owl that just hoots and blinks, instead of a pompous, bickering fusspot. Cogman has been nominated for awards for his writing on Game of Thrones four times, and while that show has its fair share of grimness, it also gets in a good amount of comic relief. So there is hope for a happy medium between the slightness of the original movie and the dour self-importance of recent Disney live-action adaptations like Maleficent.
No casting announcements have been made yet, but Ian McKellen seems like a natural choice to play the wizard Merlin, given how much practice he has from filming six Lord of the Rings/Hobbit movies.
Nick Davies was a publicist at Melville House.