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Doctor Gulliver is poor, so nothing - not even his charming fiancée Elisabeth - keeps him in the town he lives. He signs on to a ship to India, but in a storm he's washed off the ship and ends up on an island, which is inhibitated by very tiny people. After he managed to convince them he's harmless and is accepted as one of their citizens, their king wants to use him in war against a people of giants. Compared to them, even Gulliver is a gnome. Written by
Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>
The 3 Worlds of Gulliver could easily have been made into an adult satire as Jonathan Swift originally intended, but I daresay Columbia Pictures would not have realized too much box office had they gone that route.
I saw it as a 13 year old back in the day in theater which is really the only way to appreciate the special effects of Ray Harryhausen. It's a wonderful film for a juvenile, but later in reading about the times one can appreciate what Swift was trying to say and the humorous way he said it.
At the time Gulliver's Travels was originally written the age of the religious wars of the 17th century was coming to an end. Swift was a member of the Tory Party who sought to put an end to the War of Spanish Succession which the Whigs in power seemed to drag on and on. For the Whig view of the conflict I suggest strongly reading Winston Churchill's Life of Marlborough which equates the Tories of the day with the Baldwin-Chamberlain led Tories of the Thirties. Swift looked about and just saw a lot of carnage with power politics and religion all jumbled together so that you could not tell where one left off and the other began.
Gulliver's Travels is how Swift saw the world of his day, religious intolerance and a budding imperialism. Swift was in fact an ordained minister who apparently had a vision that HIS way of worship was not necessarily THE way of worship for all. A novel idea back then, expressed in the war the Lilliputians and Blefescuans wage over which end of the egg to break.
The Brobdingnag tale where Gulliver once a giant in Lilliput is now a small wee creature in a land of giants. And these giants think that because they're bigger and mightier they can rule over all. They see Gulliver and his bride as pets to kept as long as they amuse. It's a classic commentary against imperialism, unusual in its day and made Swift most unpopular in high places.
These issues aren't for kids of the Saturday matinée crowd and Kerwin Matthews as Gulliver is playing for them. Matthews had a great career doing these fantasy things and he was real good in them. Maybe because he played the roles absolutely straight and we believed because he believed the part.
Ray Harryhausen is at the top of his game and the film holds up very well. Even better in fact when you know the background from which the material came from.
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