IMDb > Great (Isambard Kingdom Brunel) (1975) > Reviews & Ratings - IMDb
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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Delightful historical cartoon!

Author: angelynx-2 from Washington DC, USA
6 February 2000

Absolutely wonderful short animated mini-musical about the life, career and works of the redoubtable British engineer and inventor, Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Unforgettable songs (I saw it years ago and can still sing nearly all of them!--ranging from 50's style rock to wistful ballads to up-tempo show-tunes; none of which, sadly, are given actual titles in the credits), delightful (and bawdy!) comedy, combined with thorough and loving research for a memorable portrait of one of the Industrial Revolution's most remarkable figures. It deserves particular applause for appropriate use of rotoscoped footage to depict the inaugural day of the Great Western Railway--for a minute I almost wondered if they'd somehow found real film of the event, the effect is that convincing. That this film continues to be unavailable is simply a crime.

IMPORTANT NOTE to anyone reading the review (posted 2005) by Judy Renee Pope: I sadly report that Judy passed away in 2007. Please, do not email her asking for a copy of Great; no one is reading her email anymore except me, and I do not know where her copy of the film is. I much regret this, as it seems to have been one of the very few copies anywhere, but I can't help with your requests. Sorry.

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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

A Neglected Masterpiece

Author: Judy Renee Pope ( from Gaithersburg, MD
28 January 2000

Exactly why an Academy Award winning film of this caliber should be so sorely neglected and unavailable all these years I can't say, but this is one of the few times animation (of varying techniques), music, archive photos, and history have come together into something truly Great. Reminiscent of some of Terry Gilliam's animation for Monty Python's Flying Circus, but yet uniquely it's own beast. I whole-heartedly recommend this to anyone, providing you can find a way to see it. If you're looking for a copy, write me =).

"Oh; it's a ship..."

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Deserves to be far better known

Author: Enoch Sneed from United Kingdom
23 August 2006

As you can see from other reviews of this little masterpiece, "Great - IKB" is a splendid piece of work that is shamefully neglected.

I first knew of the film when I heard the song "It's A Big One" played on the radio when it was released in 1975. I was looking forward to seeing this film about Brunel (already a hero of mine and now 2nd Greatest Briton of All Time, folks!). I never heard any more about it and began to wonder if I'd just dreamt it.

Then in the 1980's Channel 4 broadcast it one Saturday afternoon. Of course I watched it and was amazed at the number of animation styles and the sophisticated humour that was packed into a short film. For example, the film starts with a run-down of Victorian heroes in the style of a football team: 'Boots' Wellington, 'Flash' Gordon, 'Knockers' Nightingale and 'Little Willie' Gladstone on the touchline with his black bag. You need to know your history to appreciate this stuff. There are even references to the size of Prince Albert's manhood (when Queen Victoria said in her diary that "Albert's beauty is most striking" she wasn't writing about his haircut).

When the film was shown again a few years later I set up my cassette player and recorded the soundtrack, just to make sure I could play it whenever I wanted. A good job I did as to my knowledge it has never been shown again and is not available commercially.

I often wonder if a series of these was planned and didn't come off? I think it was produced by British Lion which went bust in the mid-70's. This might explain why "Great - IKB" was a one-off and the lack of a video/DVD distribution deal.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

It really is Great

Author: frogclock from United Kingdom
27 September 2005

One of my favourite animations of all time "Great" combines humorous drawing and plot while actually telling you something about the life & works of Brunel.

It has many different styles of animation and uses archive photographs, comic drawings and live action. It has humour with a little innuendo but also poignancy in what his inventions actually cost Brunel in terms of his health.

The songs are hilarious, and very catchy. After seeing this film you can never look at Queen Victoria without smiling ever again. A well deserved Oscar.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Very aptly titled

Author: Robert Reynolds ( from Tucson AZ
1 February 2000

Great is, quite simply, great! A funny, warm, poignant look a real-life builder named Isambard Kingdom Brunel. I wish it was in-print. It's a masterwork. It deserves better than to languish in an obscurity it most definitely does not deserve.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

It certainly lives up to its title!

Author: world_of_weird from England
25 May 2005

Bob Godfrey's free-wheeling, imaginative and irreverent look at the life and achievements of Isambard Kingdom Brunel benefits from eye-catching animation, upbeat songs, memorable set-pieces and an overall mood of infectious good humour. Although it's been years since I last saw it, several lines stick in my mind, including "Queen Victoria came to look, she said I'm tickled pink", a list of all the things Brunel didn't invent (including heroin, and, because this is a Bob Godfrey cartoon, a live-in bra!), a song about the diminutive inventor's taste in tall hats and a pre-punk rock and roller doing a very gritty song about the great man! At his best, Godfrey was capable of genius, and GREAT is proof of that. A DVD release is long overdue.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Delightful animated musical biography of IKB

Author: SpaceEE from Boston, MA, USA
5 July 1999

Delightful animated musical biography of IKB. Showed up on a public television academy award winners program before I owned a VCR and I have been looking for a copy ever since. It is a wonderful view of the great engineering age in Britain. I second the previous submission that I wish I had a copy.

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

The GREAT-est short subject I have ever seen

Author: rexer from Arizona
27 March 2005

I saw this animated short as a teenager in the late 1970's as part of a PBS Television show called "Academy Leaders", a limited-run series which showcased Oscar winning or nominated short subjects which typically were viewed only by voting academy members, then put back into the can and seldom given the public viewing. I recorded the audio to a cassette and listened to it in the car repeatedly. To this day I can still recall the catchy songs and witty narration at will. This is truly an unforgettable short subject, biographical, musical, and bearing no small portion of witty irreverence toward the Victorian aristocracy. I have searched for a way to see "Great" again ever since and, if there is any way possible, obtain a copy for myself. This is not to be missed. It is, well, GREAT!

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Great Indeed

Author: ( from London, England
11 January 2010

This Oscar winning mini masterpiece is a cherished memory of many I'm sure. The dulcet tones of Richard Briars guide us through the incredible life of possibly the greatest ever Englishman, Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The animation is very much reminiscent of Terry Gilliam's 'Monty Python' work and is accompanied by some really quite impossibly catchy songs along the way. The comedy has a very British feel to it, in fact it could easily have been titled 'Carry On Brunel', but is also at times serious and even poignant. This is an ideal way of tricking a young, awkward child into learning some important British history as it is simply a joy to watch time and again. It is actually available on YouTube but there is something like thirty seconds missing from the beginning..

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Great (Isambard Kingdom Brunel) was quite an Oscar-winning achievement for Bob Godfrey

Author: tavm from Baton Rouge, LA
23 March 2009

Thanks to Amid on Cartoon Brew, I discovered this Oscar-winning animated short from 1975, directed by Bob Godfrey, on YouTube in three parts. As one can tell from the title, this is about the great British inventor Isambard Kingdom Brunel as illustrated by the animated musical numbers that dominate the nearly 30-minute short as well as many photos and live-action shots that are also depicted. Quite irreverent with the way Godfrey tells us what Brunel didn't invent as well as the many shots of a drawn Queen Victoria saying one thing or another. I found the whole thing quite entertaining even though not everything that came on the scene made complete sense to me. Still, one should give Godfrey credit for even attempting such a massive undertaking!

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