Scene from Sword in the Stone

The Sword in the Stone is Released

It was on this Christmas day in 1963 that the animated feature The Sword in the Stone finally materialized in theaters, although Walt had obtained the screen rights to T. H. White’s book in 1939 and story drawings were prepared as early as 1949. When it was officially decided to move forward with the story, Bill Peet was assigned to write a screenplay, which was very unusual since animated features were usually developed on storyboards, not with a script. Soon after Walt approved Bill’s screenplay of The Sword in the Stone for production, the newly signed songwriting team of the Sherman Brothers were approached to write songs for the film, and this would become the first animated film they worked on. Their songs would include amongst others, “A Most Befuddling Thing,” “That’s What Makes the World Go Round,” and “Higitus Figitus.” The latter are the magical words that Merlin would use when moving and packing up all of his earthly belongings into a carpetbag. Richard M. Sherman once explained, “We didn’t want to say ‘Abracadabara,’ we just wanted to do different words… and so the conversation was he’s British, and we have to have sort of a British-sounding magic, and also it’s sort of Latin, because he’s very into Latin and Greek and all that.” Inspired by “Higgenbottom” which sounded very British, some of Merlin’s magic words became, “Higitus, figitus, migitus, mum. Prestidigitonium.” And on that note, we hope you all have a very Higitus Figitus magical Christmas today.