Disturbing Disney #17: Ratigan becomes a monster in The Great Mouse Detective

As you’ve read through this series, you’ll note that many of these ‘disturbing’ moments come from the villains in the story and The Great Mouse Detective is no exception. Based on the Basil of Baker Street book series by Eve Titus, the film follows the titular Basil, a mouse detective who operates on the same deductive principles as Sherlock Holmes (and it just so happens Basil’s tiny home is located at 221B Baker Street).

His nemesis and obsession is the evil genius Ratigan (voiced brilliantly by Vincent Price). Ratigan is “the Napoleon of crime” with ambitions of taking over the mouse world. He himself is a giant rat, but he hates to be reminded of it, to the point that he will have his own henchmen killed if they refer to him as a rat.


The Great Mouse Detective: Ratigan kidnaps Olivia/Big Ben Chase (1986)

For most of the film, Ratigan presents himself as a perfectly poised gentle-mouse, but there are hints that he’s hiding a big secret. For one, every time he gets the least bit upset, all of his henchmen quake in terror, as if expecting some monster to come out. Second, especially when Ratigan finds out that Basil is on the case of the missing toymaker, the rat is visibly seen holding back a wave of fierce anger (so much so that his face turns bright red), just barely managing to hold it back.


But the final straw comes when Basil ultimately ruins the villain’s plans to take over Mouse England. A furious Rattigan makes a run for it in his dirigible, with the young Olivia (the toymaker’s daughter) as a hostage. Basil gives chase however in a hastily rigged craft of his own (aided by Dawson and Olivia’s father) and they chase Rattigan all over London before the rat, distracted by Basil jumping aboard, crashes headlong into the clock face of Big Ben!


The Great Mouse Detective: Ratigan becomes a rat/Big Ben Fight (1986)

Deep inside the clockworks and gears, Rattigan seeks to eliminate Basil once and for all (and at least be rid of his nemesis even if his plans are ruined), but Olivia foils this by biting down on his hand, distracting him long enough for Basil to trap his cape in some gears before leaping down to rescue Olivia (who was kicked into the works by Rattigan) from being crushed. Basil saves the young mouse just in the nick of time and when the trapped Rattigan sees the pair getting away…his anger finally boils over, leading into one of the more disturbing sequences in the pre-Disney Renaissance canon.

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Technically speaking, this sequence is historic because it’s one of the earliest uses of CGI animation in a Disney film (though not the first). The clock gears of Big Ben are all computer animated, with the hand-drawn characters laid on top. According to the animators, this is what allowed them to create the sequence where Ratigan runs in, up, and through the gears during the chase. I also love to draw attention to Henry Mancini’s music for this scene: as Ratigan comes into frame behind Basil, listen closesly as the music starts. The melody is on a piano and is broken down into several interlocking segments with differing rhythms; just like the clock gears in Big Ben!

As Basil and Olivia reach the top of the clock tower, we look back to see a monstrous Ratigan, all poise and polish gone, running on all fours up through the gears, clothes in tatters, inarticulately growling as he pursues his quarry. He’s partly in shadows, and partly lit up by lightning flashes, which only adds to his menace. We can see now why his henchmen were so afraid; beneath that calculating veneer…Ratigan is a complete monster!

As the enraged rat gets ever closer, Basil tries desperately to get Olivia to safety before the villain can get to them, but their craft is just out of reach. Finally, just as the rat leaps for Basil, he tosses Olivia to her father, who catches his daughter with relief. But the nightmare is just starting for Basil: he’s in the clutches of Ratigan as they fall all the way down onto the hands of Big Ben in the pouring rain. The rat is determined that this time, Basil isn’t getting away from him: “there’s no escape THIS time Basil!” He uses his claws, visibly razor sharp, to slash and maul the detective, wanting to make him suffer for daring to humiliate the rat time and time again. It’s a spine-chilling moment, as you can hear Basil’s groans of pain (though in typical Disney fashion there isn’t a trace of blood to be seen).


Ratigan moves in for the kill and with one blow sends Basil flying off into the abyss (just missing the hands of his friends) and seemingly to his death. An overjoyed Ratigan crows that he’s finally won! But a voice from below replies: “On the contrary, the game’s not over yet!” Unbelievably, Basil has taken hold of the wreckage of the dirigible and Ratigan’s special bell, which he now mockingly rings. Just at that moment, the clock strikes the hour and the vibrations send a stunned Ratigan tumbling off, but not before he latches onto Basil and brings the mouse down with him!!

It seems to be the end for both Basil and his nemesis, but the detective has one last trick up his sleeve: when he fell, he took the propeller from the dirigible with him, and now he uses it to fly back up to his friends as the storm finally passes.

Despite the happy ending, this scene with Ratigan always scared me as a child: the transformation is so complete that he doesn’t seem like the same character anymore. And that scene where Basil gets literally mauled by this monster, it’s hard to believe sometimes that this movie was made for children. Because if you really think about it, if that scene were done realistically, there should be blood everywhere, not to mention broken bones from that fall onto the clock hands. It amazes me that in the very next scene Basil isn’t bandaged up in a few places.

What do you think of Ratigan’s final transformation into a horrific monster? Did this scene disturb you also? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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For more Disturbing Disney, see also:

Disturbing Disney #1: The Coachman in Pinocchio (1940)

Disturbing Disney #2: The truth of Pleasure Island in Pinocchio (1940)

Disturbing Disney #3: Escaping Monstro from Pinocchio (1940)

Disturbing Disney #4: Dumbo loses his mother (1941)

Disturbing Disney #5 The death of Bambi’s Mother

Disturbing Disney #6: Faline vs. the dogs (1942)

Disturbing Disney #7: Cruella wants to do WHAT??

Disturbing Disney #8: The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met (from Make Mine Music, 1946)

Disturbing Disney #9: Dr. Facilier’s Fate (The Princess and the Frog, 2009)

Disturbing Disney #10: The rat in Lady and the Tramp (1955)

Disturbing Disney #11: Clayton’s Death in Tarzan (1999)

Disturbing Disney #12: The Bear from The Fox and the Hound (1981)

Disturbing Disney #13: “Smoking them out” in The Fox and the Hound (1981)

Disturbing Disney #14: The Salt Trap in The Jungle Book (1994)

Disturbing Disney #15: Night on Bald Mountain from Fantasia (1940)

Disturbing Disney #16: King Triton destroys Ariel’s grotto


Soundtrack Review: Altered Carbon (2018)


Based on the classic cyberpunk noir novel by Richard K. Morgan, Altered Carbon is an intriguing story of murder, love, sex, and betrayal, set more than 300 years in the future. In Netflix’s Altered Carbon, Society has been transformed by new technology: consciousness can be digitized; human bodies are interchangeable; death is no longer permanent.

Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman) is the lone surviving soldier in a group of elite interstellar warriors who were defeated in an uprising against the new world order. His mind was imprisoned – on ice – for centuries until Laurens Bancroft (James Purefoy), an impossibly wealthy, long-lived man, offers Kovacs the chance to live again. In exchange, Kovacs has to solve a murder … that of Bancroft himself.


The soundtrack is composed by Jeff Russo, who has also composed music for Star Trek: Discovery and Fargo. For the latter, Russo earned a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Composition for a Limited Series, Movie, or Special in 2017. Russo began his music career in 1990, after founding his rock band TONIC. The group quickly achieved great success and in 2003, received two Grammy nominations, one for “Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal” for “Take Me As I Am,” and one for “Best Rock Album.” The band was a great showcase for Russo’s guitar work and songwriting that allowed him to branch out and begin his solo career in producing and composing.


I’d heard that the soundtrack for Altered Carbon was unusual for a story in the cyberpunk genre, and now that I’ve listened to the soundtrack album I can definitely attest that this is true. As a general rule, the music in any show or film set in the future (and particularly in a cyberpunk future like Altered Carbon) has an “edgy futuristic” feel to it. Notable examples of this practice include: Blade Runner and its sequel; Automata; The Machine and Forbidden Planet. These films have soundtracks with weird electronic noises, guitar riffs and descents into heavy rock beats during action sequences.


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But the soundtrack for Altered Carbon doesn’t do this. Instead, the music, beginning with the “Main Title” has a mysterious quality to it. There are long, held-out string drones that combine with soft vocals (that are half muttering, half singing) and a cello solo. The opening title has the slightest touch of a drum beat, but it only lasts for a short time and doesn’t dominate the track.


Most of the album: “Consciousness,” “Bancroft Shows Kovacs,” “Her Daughter,” and “Attacked by Troopers” are all variations on the same musical arrangement: strings with a prominent solo cello, combined with female vocalizations and an on-again/off-again background of electronic music. This is not a bad thing: In fact it shows that the world of Altered Carbon has a consistent musical background (and consistency is never a bad thing in film and television music). It’s actually refreshing to listen to a science fiction soundtrack that doesn’t include heavy rock music. Jeff Russo has composed a beautiful soundtrack for an amazing show. If you haven’t watched it yet, the first season is currently available on Netflix. The soundtrack became digitally available from Lakeshore Records as of February 9th, 2018.

Let me know your thoughts on Altered Carbon and its soundtrack in the comments below! My thanks to The Krakower Group for making this soundtrack available for review.

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The Little Mermaid “Daughters of Triton” (1989)


King Triton’s Entrance

The Little Mermaid is universally acknowledged to be the film that launched the Disney Renaissance (a period that lasted from 1989 until Disney’s Tarzan in 1999). The Academy Award winning score was composed by Alan Menken, who collaborated with lyricist Howard Ashman on the songs.

It’s a big day in the undersea kingdom of Atlantica. The court composer Sebastian (a Jamaican crab) is putting on a concert starring the daughters of King Triton, with tonight being the debut of the youngest, Princess Ariel. King Triton, benevolent ruler of the Seven Seas, makes a grand entrance into the crowded concert hall in a seashell chariot pulled by several dolphins, lighting up the chandelier with a burst from his magical trident.


King Triton is most excited for this concert as he’s been looking forward to Ariel’s first performance. Sebastian insists that he is excited too (though he quietly mumbles that it would be helpful if the princess attended more rehearsals). Despite his grumblings, Sebastian takes the stage and the show begins with six of Triton’s children appearing out of clam shells singing (appropriately enough) “Daughters of Triton”:

The Little Mermaid ‘Daughters of Triton’ (1989)


Oh, we are the daughters of Triton
Great father who loves us and named us well:
And then there is the youngest in her musical debut
A seventh little sister, we’re presenting her to you
To sing a song Sebastian wrote, her voice is like a bell
She’s our sister Ari…


Whoops! The concert comes to a crashing halt as the final clam shell opens to reveal…no one! Ariel isn’t here! Her sisters gasp in shock, the audience is befuddled, Sebastian is mortified and King Triton is understandably upset, bellowing out “ARIEL!!!” very angry that his youngest daughter has seemingly skipped out on an important event. Where IS Ariel? Well, as it turns out, she’s been busy hunting for human artifacts with her best friend Flounder (even though she’s been told repeatedly to stay away from anything related to humans).

Originally this scene was going to play out differently. In an earlier storyboard, the scene was going to start with Sebastian going backstage to check on the sisters as they are warming up for their performance. He would then notice that Ariel isn’t there and grow frantic when Andrina mentions that no one has seen her in quite some time. The crab races off to tell King Triton the bad news, but a spotlight illuminates him before he can reach the king, so the crab resigns himself to the inevitable and begins the show. It was decided that the scene would play better if Ariel’s absence was a complete surprise for everyone.


Due to how the scene ends, this is a rare example of a Disney song that ends abruptly (another good example is “A Girl Worth Fighting For” from Mulan).

I always found the ending of this scene to be awkward as a kid, with the way the music comes to a sudden halt and how awkward everyone acts with the revelation that Ariel has no-showed the concert. Now that I’m older I can appreciate this scene better, as it starts a quasi-tradition of Disney princesses not being where they’re expected to be (for example, Pocahontas isn’t waiting to meet her father when he comes back from battle; Mulan is late to meet the matchmaker, you get the idea).

What do you think of “Daughters of Triton”? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below 🙂

See also:

The Little Mermaid “Poor Unfortunate Souls” (1989)

The Little Mermaid “Vanessa’s Song” (1989)

For more Disney songs, check out the main page here

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Alice in Wonderland “The Un-Birthday Song” (1951)


Alice in Wonderland- The Cheshire Cat

After a series of nonsensical encounters, Alice makes her way further into Wonderland and encounters the Cheshire Cat. Still determined to find the White Rabbit, Alice asks the Cheshire Cat if he knows where to find him. While the Cat doesn’t know himself, he advises Alice to ask either the Mad Hatter or the March Hare, who is also mad. When Alice objects at the idea of “going among mad people” the Cheshire Cat remarks that “Oh you really can’t help that, most everyone is mad here.” Knowing this, Alice decides to take a chance and visit the March Hare on the grounds that maybe he’s not quite as mad as a Mad Hatter.

alice in wonderland tea party

Alice in Wonderland “The Un-Birthday Song” (1951)

As it turns out, the choice doesn’t really matter because Alice ends up seeing both anyway, as the pair are having a tea party at the  home of the March Hare (along with their friend the Dormouse). And it’s not just any kind of party either, it’s an Un-Birthday party!! The trio are gathered at a long table lined with all kinds of chairs and an eccentric collection of tea sets, all raucously wishing each other a very merry un-birthday.

The Mad Hatter was voiced by Ed Wynn (perhaps best remembered as Uncle Albert, the man who laughed so hard he kept floating up to the ceiling in Mary Poppins (1964)). The March Hare was voiced by Jerry Colonna (who also narrated the Disney shorts Casey at the Bat (1946) and The Brave Engineer (1950)). The Dormouse was voiced by Jimmy MacDonald, who also happened to be the voice of Mickey Mouse at the time (he played the world’s most famous mouse from 1948 until 1977, taking over from Walt Disney when the latter’s voice grew too hoarse to perform as Mickey.)


As I was saying, the trio were all busy singing about un-birthdays:

A very merry unbirthday to me!
To who?
To me!
Oh you!

A very merry unbirthday to you!
Who me?
Yes, you!
Oh, me!

Let’s all congratulate us with another cup of tea!
A very merry unbirthday to you!

Alice is delighted with the song, but the Hatter and Hare are initially not pleased with her appearance (they insist there’s “no room” at the enormous table); but they’re quickly won over when Alice remarks how much she enjoyed their singing at this “birthday party.” (You’ll note a running gag in this interlude is that Alice is very nearly handed a cup of tea several times only to have it jerked away at the last possible moment). When the insulted Hare, Hatter and Dormouse insist that this is an “Un-Birthday Party,” Alice admits she doesn’t even know what that is, prompting the Hare and Hatter to explain:

maxresdefault (1)

Now, statistics prove, prove that you’ve one birthday
Imagine, just one birthday every year
Ah, but there are three hundred and sixty four unbirthdays!
Precisely why we’re gathered here to cheer

Alice chimes in: Then today is my unbirthday too!

It is?
What a small world this is.
In that case…
A very merry unbirthday,
To me?
To you!

A very merry unbirthday
For me?
For you!

Now blow the candle out my dear
And make your wish come true
A very merry unbirthday to you!

An interesting detail about this film is that it was nearly entirely shot in live action to serve as reference for the animators. Fortunately for us, the live action footage of the Mad Tea Party survived to the present day, and a talented YouTuber by name of Broadway Classixs synced the two pieces of footage together to show the origins of this hysterical scene.


The Mad Tea Party: Live Action/Animated Comparison

With the song over, Alice is eager to ask the Hatter and Hare if they know where the White Rabbit is, but it soon becomes obvious that holding any type of rational conversation is a near-impossible task. For one, the Hatter and the Hare are constantly interrupting each other (or Alice); second, the group is constantly changing places around the table so they can get clean tea cups and third…there’s no need to look for the White Rabbit because he comes running directly by! Unfortunately for the Rabbit, the Hatter and Hare decide he simply must stay for tea…and also that his pocket watch needs fixing (with butter, jam, sugar and a healthy splash of tea). The miserable Rabbit, still complaining that he’s late, hurries off and a frustrated Alice follows, thoroughly fed-up with the antics of the Mad Hatter and the March Hare. Even though Alice sang wistfully about living in a nonsense world at the beginning of the story, she’s quickly finding out that actually living in a nonsense world is quite another matter altogether.

And that’s “The Un-Birthday Song”! I hope you enjoyed it, for more Alice in Wonderland, see the links below. And also let me know if you liked this song in the comments 🙂

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For more Disney songs, see here

See also:

Alice in Wonderland “Painting the Roses Red” (1951)

Alice in Wonderland “All in the Golden Afternoon” (1951)

Alice in Wonderland “In a World of My Own” (1951)

Alice in Wonderland (1951) takes us down the rabbit hole

Disturbing Disney #16: King Triton destroys Ariel’s grotto


King Triton destroys the grotto

Thirty years after the so called “Golden Age” of Disney ended with Sleeping Beauty, the studio leapt into a new age of glory with the premiere of The Little Mermaid in 1989. Loosely based on Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale of the same name, the film raised animation to a whole new level. As a very young child, I lived and breathed The Little Mermaid, following Ariel’s adventure with rapt attention. And yet…after seeing the film a hundred times, something strange began to happen: I didn’t enjoy the film as much, in fact I became downright scared of it and would rather watch anything but that film!

Being only three, my fear was attributed to the scariness of Ursula at the climax of the film, and this is partially true. But even before Ursula transformed herself into a colossus, I developed a fear of an entirely different scene. Now that I’m grown up, I look back at this scene and recognize the disturbing elements that led me to reject this scene and ultimately the film as a child. And that scene is King Triton’s destruction of Ariel’s grotto.


Ariel, the youngest daughter of King Triton, keeps many secrets from her loving but overprotective father. The biggest of these secrets is that she has a secret grotto full to the brim with human artifacts that she has salvaged from various human shipwrecks on the ocean floor. This is a huge problem because Triton has strictly forbidden contact with anything from the human world, up to and including anything made by humans. Sebastian, Triton’s court composer, discovers the grotto during “Part of Your World” but is initially persuaded by Ariel to keep it a secret. But when it becomes clear that Ariel has fallen in love with the human Prince Eric, Sebastian reluctantly informs King Triton of the truth.

Triton’s confrontation with Ariel coincides with Flounder surprising his best friend with a statue of Prince Eric that was on the shipwreck that Ariel saved the prince from earlier in the film. The princess is delighted with her present and she twirls about in delight, only to come face to face with her very angry father. As a single father, King Triton has done his best to raise seven daughters, but Ariel’s stubbornness has him at his wits end. He tries, as best he can, to convince his daughter that her love for the prince can’t possibly come to anything, that humans are dangerous. As the famous line goes “Have you lost your senses completely? He’s a human, you’re a mermaid!” When Ariel retorts that she doesn’t care (about the difference), Triton decides desperate measures are in order.


“So help me Ariel, I am going to get through to you. And if this is the only way, so be it!”

What follows disturbs me to this day. Full of anger, King Triton proceeds to destroy most of the grotto, with several shots devoted to various items disintegrating from the power of the trident. That part alone is heartbreaking because we already know Ariel loves her collection very much. But what makes this scene disturbing is how Triton changes. As he finishes the line with “so be it”, the glow of the trident first under-lights his face, creating a scary look. Then, for the rest of the destruction, the king is drawn as a dark figure surrounded by a dark red background, destroying everything in spite of Ariel’s anguished pleas for him to stop.


This is disturbing because, for this moment, Triton has become a monster in the eyes of Ariel and the audience. Fathers aren’t supposed to hurt their children, even if they have done something wrong. And while it is true that Triton did not lay a hand on Ariel, destroying her prized possessions right in front of her must have done severe psychological and emotional damage.

To be fair, Triton expresses remorse almost immediately afterward, as he is seen glancing back with sadness when he hears Ariel sobbing, but nevertheless, the damage is done. Ariel’s private sanctuary has been destroyed, and she doesn’t feel like she can trust anybody since Sebastian betrayed her secret. Hence, this is the perfect opportunity for Ursula’s hench-eels, Flotsam and Jetsam, to sneak their way in and invite Ariel to visit their mistress.

What do you think of Triton’s destruction of the grotto? Did he go too far? Did you find it disturbing as well? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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See also:

Disturbing Disney #1: The Coachman in Pinocchio (1940)

Disturbing Disney #2: The truth of Pleasure Island in Pinocchio (1940)

Disturbing Disney #3: Escaping Monstro from Pinocchio (1940)

Disturbing Disney #4: Dumbo loses his mother (1941)

Disturbing Disney #5 The death of Bambi’s Mother

Disturbing Disney #6: Faline vs. the dogs (1942)

Disturbing Disney #7: Cruella wants to do WHAT??

Disturbing Disney #8: The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met (from Make Mine Music, 1946)

Disturbing Disney #9: Dr. Facilier’s Fate (The Princess and the Frog, 2009)

Disturbing Disney #10: The rat in Lady and the Tramp (1955)

Disturbing Disney #11: Clayton’s Death in Tarzan (1999)

Disturbing Disney #12: The Bear from The Fox and the Hound (1981)

Disturbing Disney #13: “Smoking them out” in The Fox and the Hound (1981)

Disturbing Disney #14: The Salt Trap in The Jungle Book (1994)

Disturbing Disney #15: Night on Bald Mountain from Fantasia (1940)

Alice in Wonderland “All in the Golden Afternoon” (1951)


Alice in Wonderland “All in the Golden Afternoon” (1951)

After escaping the Dodo and his friends (who wanted to burn Alice alive in the White Rabbit’s house because they thought she was a monster), Alice continues to try and find said White Rabbit (the reason she tumbled into Wonderland in the first place) only to stumble into a large garden of talking flowers! I have to say this is one of my favorite sequences because the flowers are so beautifully animated, each with a distinct personality.


The flowers seem to be led by the Red Rose, who is initially very kind to Alice. All of the flowers want to sing to Alice about how wonderful they are, but no one can agree on which flower they should sing about. The Red Rose decrees that they will all sing “All in a Golden Afternoon” because “that’s the song about all of us.” And so the flowers sing together with the Red Rose serving as the conductor (with Alice listening in wonder):

Little bread-and-butterflies kiss the tulips
And the sun is like a toy balloon
There are get up in the morning glories
In the golden afternoon
There are dizzy daffodils on the hillside
Strings of violets are all in tune
Tiger lilies love the dandy lions
In the golden afternoon
(The golden afternoon)


There are dog and caterpillars and the copper centipede
Where the lazy daisies love the very peaceful life
They lead…
You can learn a lot of things from the flowers
For especially in the month of June
There’s a wealth of happiness and romance
All in the golden afternoon
All in the golden afternoon
The golden afternoon…

(Alice chimes in) 

You can learn a lot of things from the flowers
For especially in the month of June
There’s a wealth of happiness and romance
All- (voice cracks)
(All together): All in the golden afternoon!
“All in the Golden Afternoon” is a beautiful song and a reasonably sane interlude after the ridiculousness of the Dodo (though it won’t be long before we’re thrown into the insanity of the Un-Birthday Party, but I digress…). Alice loves the song, but the good time doesn’t last: the flowers are very curious to know just what kind of flower Alice is. When the naturally befuddled girl can’t give a clear answer, the flowers come to the only natural conclusion: Alice must be a weed and weeds aren’t welcome in the garden, so out she goes!

I always thought it rather silly that the flowers would think Alice was a flower too (considering she doesn’t look anything like a flower), but then again, this IS Wonderland we’re talking about, most of the inhabitants aren’t known for their common sense (just wait until we get to the Queen of Hearts).
What do you think of All in the Golden Afternoon? Let me know your thoughts on this song in the comments below 🙂
For more Alice in Wonderland, see also:

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The Sword in the Stone “A Most Befuddling Thing” (1963)


During the course of The Sword in the Stone, Merlin teaches Wart (the future King Arthur) a series of lessons that will help him in life: as a fish, Wart learns that brains can defeat brawn; as a bird, he learned that knowledge and wisdom are the real power; but it’s when Wart is a squirrel that he learns about the greatest lesson of all…the power of love.

The Sword in the Stone “A Most Befuddling Thing” (1963)

After being unfairly given a mountain of work in the kitchen by his foster father, Wart is led out of the castle by Merlin with a promise to see into the crazy, dangerous life of a squirrel (it also helps that Merlin sets up a magical “washing assembly line” to get the dishes done in Wart’s absence).

And so, Wart is turned into a common brown squirrel and Merlin into a blue one (which always amused me) and the two set off to first learn about climbing trees (Wart is eager to make the jumps; Merlin…not so much). But they’re not alone for long: Wart quickly comes nose to nose with a red squirrel climbing along in the opposite direction.


They move out of the way, but the girl squirrel isn’t interested in moving aside, she’s interested in Wart! (As Friend Owl would say in Bambi, she’s “twitterpated.”) This prompts a highly amused Merlin to sing a song explaining the unavoidability of love in “A Most Befuddling Thing.”

It’s a state of being, a frame of mind
It’s a most befuddling thing
And to every being of every kind
It is discombooberating!

You’re wasting time resisting
You’ll find the more you do
The more she’ll keep insisting
Her him has got to be you
It’s a rough game anyone knows
There are no rules, anything goes
There’s no logical explanation
For this discombooberation
It’s a most bemuddling, most befuddling thing

There’s no sensible explanation
For this discombooberation

It’s a most hodge-podgical
Most illogical
Most confusiling
Most bamboozling
Most bemuddling
Most befuddling

And as Merlin sings, Wart does everything he can to try and evade the girl squirrel who is determined to shower him with affection (whether he wants it or not!) Poor Wart runs into every obstacle imaginable: a harassed mother bird trying to sit on her eggs, Archimedes the owl who’s trying to take a nap, and a rather determined wolf (who nearly gets Wart on a few occasions). But the tables are soon turned: as Merlin’s song comes to an end, he unwittingly comes to the attention of another red squirrel (I always think of her as the pretty girl squirrel’s older sister) who takes a fancy to Merlin!!


Not anticipating this (hilarious for the audience) turn of events, Merlin decides that this particular trip needs to come to an end! Wart agrees and the spell is quickly undone. But while Merlin’s red girl squirrel runs away screaming in fright (and then anger that her “squirrel” is actually a grouchy old man), Wart’s girl squirrel is quite upset, clearly not understanding why her beloved boy squirrel has disappeared. Of course Wart can’t explain himself because squirrels don’t understand human language and the heartbroken girl squirrel runs away crying to a hollow in a tree. A sobered Merlin sums up the situation for Wart perfectly:

Merlin: Ah, you know, lad, that love business is a powerful thing.

Wart: Greater than gravity?

Merlin: Well, yes, boy. In its way, I’d, uh… Yes, I’d say it’s the greatest force on earth.

This is one of the saddest moments in the film because there’s really no way to “fix” the girl squirrel’s broken heart. And it’s a double strategy because Merlin explained earlier that “when a girl squirrel mates, it’s for life.” This would imply that the girl squirrel is going to be alone and heartbroken for the rest of her life (which is a very sad thought). But it’s like Merlin said, love is a very, very powerful thing.

What do you think of “A Most Befuddling Thing” from The Sword in the Stone? I always giggle when Merlin finally notices the older girl squirrel sneaking up on him. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

See also:

The Sword in the Stone “Mad, Madam Mim” (1963)

For more Disney songs, see here