Interesting if somewhat of a disappointment from Ptushko
That is not saying that The New Gulliver is bad, it isn't, far from it. Just that after seeing the likes of The Tale of Tsar Sultan, Stone Flower, Sadko, Ruslan and Ludmilla- all quintessential Russian fantasies- I was expecting a little more. But it actually is very interesting and also very impressive, and of historical importance for animation and stop-motion. The visuals are amazing, so much detail, breadth and nuances went into them and it showed. They exude a great atmosphere as well, it does have a beauty and charm at times but there is more of an emphasis on the weirdness and eeriness to match the politics and it didn't feel misplaced at all. The photography doesn't undermine how the characters and settings look either, and I can only echo what Ray Harryhousen said of his experience of The New Gulliver as a child that while the politics went over his head, he found the visuals totally absorbing. The music is haunting and atmosphere yet rousing and sumptuous. I simply love the sung anthems, very stirring indeed. There are a fair number of scenes that leave you transfixed and in awe, and the two that really stand out are I agree the performer for Gulliver and the underground factory. Ptushko's direction is fine, early on in his career there is ambition and an eye for detail that would bloom even more later on. The acting is good, some may find it on the mannered and broad side, maybe so but those and also the nobility the actors had were part of the charm. For all those good points, The New Gulliver is not without its weak points. The political aspects can feel heavy-handed and bogs the film down to the extent that the pacing is affected. And the pacing can get tedious at times, while the comedy also falls flat, not just coming across as not very funny but in some scenes rather out of place. Jonathan Swift's satire may have helped things if it hadn't been dulled down in favour of the visuals and politics. In conclusion, problematic and not among Ptushko's best but interesting and impressive. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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