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Pippi Longstocking, a super-strong redheaded little girl, moves into her father's cottage Villa Villekulla, and has adventures with her next-door neighbors Tommy and Annika in this compilation film of the classic Swedish TV series.
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The ultimate adaptation of Astrid Lindgren's famous character!
Besides being one of my favorite girl characters, the wild, untamed, and super-strong Pippi Longstocking (known in Sweden as Pippi Långstrump) has become my favorite superheroine, bar-none. Despite being the proverbial bull in a china house, Pippi is very innocent and playful, and treats everyone as equals. She's a heroine to all children, especially her best friends Tommy and Annika Settergren (who are the exact opposite of her; clean-cut and well-behaved), and is very nice to well-meaning adults (despite their having weak constitutions over her mischievous behavior). She only reserves her worst behavior on bullies and condescending adults. (And even villains like crooks, pirates, etc.) People may question Pippi as a role-model, which is understandable, but I saw her as an exciting, funny, and lovable character. And she deserves to be the empowerment figure fans young and old look to her as.
I had finally watched all 13 episodes of this 1969 TV series, based on the "Pippi Longstocking" books by Astrid Lindgren (which I had read before seeing this series; I had only seen bits and pieces until then).
This is technically the third adaptation of Pippi Longstocking (the first, made in 1949, cast 26-year old Viveca Serlachius in the title role; and Gina Gillespie was the first child actress and American to play Pippi in an adaptation for SHIRLEY TEMPLE'S STORYBOOK in 1961), but frankly, this series is the crowning achievement of all adaptations of the character. (I do, however, also like the critically-lambasted American 1988 film with Tami Erin; That was my first exposure to Pippi, leading to my interest in the books and this series.) One ingredient for this series' success is the fact that Astrid Lindgren herself did the screenplays for the whole series, not to mention that she was very proud of it. (A much deserved opportunity, as she was unhappy with the 1949 adaptation.) Yes, there are some changes, but otherwise, this series is *remarkably* true to the books! Even if you don't understand Swedish (I think this entire series truly deserves a subtitled release in the US!), you'll nonetheless know what's going on, if you already read the books. The result is a series that's every bit as fun and compelling as the books, so much that you'll wish there were more episodes!
It goes without saying that 9-year old Inger Nilsson has magically captured the very spirit of Pippi from the books. (She also superbly resembles Ingrid Vang Nyman's illustrations from the original Swedish books!) She did such a wonderful job of handling the difficult and demanding responsibility of playing a world-beloved character. (She also sang the series' classic theme song in the Swedish version!) Pär Sundberg and Maria Persson as Pippi's best friends Tommy and Annika share the same screen power as their freckled companion, given that they're essentially the main protagonists of the story by default. And of course, there's Pippi's little monkey companion Mr. Nilsson, and her spotted horse Lilla Gubben (originally unnamed in the books). The rest of the cast is great! There's Ulf G. Johnsson and Göthe Grefbo as the inept cops Kling and Klang (also originally unnamed in the books), Fredrik Ohlsson and Öllegård Wellton as Mr. and Mrs. Settergren, and veteran Beppe Wolgers as Pippi's jolly father, Captain Efraim Longstocking. German cast members Margot Trooger (as Ms. Prysselius, a character created especially for the series), Hans Clarin, and Paul Esser (as the thieves Thunder-Karlsson and Bloom, respectively) were dubbed in the Swedish version, but nonetheless did a superb job in their roles. (As this series was a German co-production, the three actors were on loan from Germany.) Director Olle Hellbom did such a remarkable job helming the entire series. His direction really did justice in bringing the wonderful world in the original books to life, with a timeless and beautiful neo-1930s-style setting. The sets especially had distinct styles to them, from Villa Villekulla (Pippi's colorful, ramshackle cottage) to the signs in the town shops. We also get to see many of the beautiful Swedish landscapes the characters travel to, from beaches, to gardens, to rivers. There are also some very good special effects, from Pippi lifting her horse (an iconic image often associated with her) to other amazing feats! They may seem outdated or "cheesy" to some, but for exceptional television budgets, they are very imaginative and spectacular. The late Jan Johannson's African samba-style theme song, "Here Comes Pippi Longstocking" ("Här Kommer Pippi Långstrump"), written by Astrid Lindgren and sung by Inger Nilsson in the Swedish version, is so unbelievably cool and catchy! It really gave Pippi a very exotic and outlandish feel. Georg Riedel's music score is awesome! Lots of beautiful tracks, comical ones, even atmospheric ones. You wish it would get a CD release. Riedel did many of the other songs in the show as well.
The episodes themselves? It's hard for me to pick a favorite, as they're all memorable and have a very strong continuity. It's very close to the book, so you know what to expect. But I'd rather not go into any comparisons here, as my descriptions would not do this series any justice. It has to be seen to be believed! The series was followed by two theatrical films, PIPPI IN THE SOUTH SEAS, and PIPPI ON THE RUN (both 1970), both of which I'll review later. The entire series would be edited into two compilation films, PIPPI LONGSTOCKING and PIPPI GOES ON BOARD, which are still fun to watch, but they don't do the series any justice! These are from which the series got the most exposure in the US (in kiddie matinées and television), and that's all right with me.
In closing, this series is a classic in any language or format! The original Swedish-language version is definitely the best, as you get to really appreciate the performance of the cast. Highly recommended!
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