- Directed by Ed Friedman, Lou Kachivas, Marsh Lamore, Bill Reed, and Gwen Wetzler
- March 22, 1985
- Prince Adam/He-Man, Beast Man-John Erwin
- Princess Adora/She-Ra, Catra, Hunga the Harpy-Melendy Britt
- Skeletor, Man-at-Arms, Cringer/Battle Cat, Bald Rebel, Chef Alan-Alan Oppenheimer
- Teela, Queen Marlena, Sorceress, Shadow Weaver, Glimmer, Madame Razz-Linda Gary
- Bow, Hordak-George DiCenzo
- Queen Angella, Imp-Erika Scheimer
- King Randor, Swift Wind, Kowl, Mantenna, Horde Trooper, Kobra Khan, Leech, Trap Jaw, Tri-Klops, Broom, Sprag, Sprocker, Garv the Innkeeper, Bard, Messenger-Lou Scheimer
- Horde Computer-Lou Scheimer as Erik Gunden
He-Man learns he has a long-lost sister and journey’s to the far off world of Etheria to reveal it to her.
The Secret of the Sword is a pilot film whose job was to introduce the character of She-Ra and its associated toyline into the He-Man universe. The 80s were a time of half hour animated toy commercials syndicated to every television station willing to show one. And while the decade produced its share of crap, it produced plenty of gems. Among them was the decidedly family friendly He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.
This film expanded the universe begun in its predecessor. She-Ra was to be a toyline aimed at girls, but truth be told myself and other boys owned both because, well, you could not have He-Man and not his sister. And considering how often it felt like one crossed over with another on television you could own just the MOTU line.
The Secret of the Sword mixed characters from both toy series as the Evil Horde characters for example were from the MOTU line while Bow and Glimmer were of the Princess of Power series. One would think a show based on a line aimed at a particular demographic would not mix the toys for those of a line aimed at another.
Normally I wince at the introduction of the previously undisclosed relative-especially if it’s a major one like a sibling. Maybe because MOTU wasn’t anything too deep it was easier to get past it here than say in the in a fictional universe like Star Trek. You can forgive it in something shallow rather than something trying to be deep.
The elephant in the room was why did we never hear about the missing Adora until they came up with this show? Try not to think too deeply about the personal violation of the Sorceress casting a spell on all of Eternia to make them forget one child and how that spell did not seem to extend to Skeletor and one could assume by default other magical beings. It was a plot device to explain why nobody said anything about Prince Adam’s sister during the MOTU’s run.
What I especially liked about this movie was the introduction of the dynamic between Hordak and Skeletor. In the times when they crossed over during the course of the series, they just hated each other. They were like two bickering siblings trying to screw the other over in any way they could. In the narrative there was a brief synopsis of why they don’t like each other and truth be told it’s justified on both ends. Skeletor gets abandoned by Hordak to Randor’s forces and Hordak gets betrayed by Skeletor for a chance at not getting severely punished. In both cases what occurred was somewhat justified.
And there is some casual sexism used on the part of our villains. Hordak complains about his men being beaten by a woman. Skeletor is rather bothered by a female He-Man. I am not sure if they were trying to say anything or just make the baddies real jerks.
The Secret of the Sword itself is several episodes of the She-Ra cartoon edited together and thus it maintains the tone of that series. It’s family friendly. However this childhood family friendly material withstands the test of time. Perhaps because it is not ultimately condescending to the audience.
Rather swiftly it introduces all the major concepts and major characters of the She-Ra television show though it doesn’t go too much into the bulk of the character dynamics. They needed to get you to buy the toys and not be invested in the characters. The issue is if you are invested in the characters then you want the toys so you can be those characters. This film could have done with more development of those presented.
It was never explained why Prince Adam was chosen to become He-Man but here there seems to have been some predestination thing going on. The Sorceress talks about Adora’s destiny to become She-Ra since apparently birth which would imply that Prince Adam had the same thing going on. What exactly then made them so special?
They do differentiate the powers of the siblings somewhat. She-Ra has a type of empathy that borders on telepathy that shows her to know intentions. That is a bit I do not recall really showing up in her series. Conversely I recall She-Ra using the transforming ability of her sword excessively in the show but maybe I missed it but it was not present here.
In the end The Secret of the Sword is nothing too special, but it does a nice job of capturing the spirit of the fictional universe which inspired it. If you liked either, you will love this.