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The 1977 animated-live action hybrid version of Gulliver's Travels (or rather 'Travel,' since he only gets as far as Lilliput) didn't get much of a release, and it's not too difficult to see why. Michel Legrand comes up with some catchy tunes, but they merely inspire lyricist Don Black to the likes of "One simple fact remains/No-one here suffers from growing pains.' Richard Harris once again over-indulges in his passion for excessive makeup, toning down the eyeliner for far too much foundation this time in an effort to hide the fact he's at least 25 years too old for the role, but at least he (perhaps inappropriately) reduces his larger-than-life tendencies for a performance made up mainly of patronising whispering. The Belgian animation looks only slightly better than early morning French children's TV, but Peter Hunt's film is not nearly as bad as it sounds the use of real model sets for the animated characters harks back to Max and Dave Fleischer's 1939 version while a couple of moments of Swiftian satire do remain - although it's definitely aimed at the youngest of children.
I have to disagree with the only comment listed. This movie is not the best adaptation of the novel by any means though it is significant in that it was one of the early movies to use animation to the effect seen in this move; that is, mixing real life actors with animated characters. It pulls this off spectacularly. The problem is more to do with the dialogue and pace which is, at times, tiring. I watched this as a child and always had a soft spot for it, as I now know other children to have the same. This isn't a horrible movie, it should certainly not be overlooked in my opinion. It certainly should be bought at a car-boot sale though!
Only covers Gulliver's time in Lilliput. My brother and i first saw this on TV as a Nickelodeon Special Delivery. Luckily we had it recorded, and we watched it many times over the years. However, on review, it had it's moments even if it got a little tedious at times. BUT, there are cute little songs that are not in any other versions of Gulliver. That's what will stick with you. the song "Politics" is really funny. Such a great commentary on how arbitrary the art of politics really is. But, if you want a good representation of the book, i would suggest another version. Kids would be amused though.
I had watched this on Italian TV as a kid and recall being fond of it –
in view of its mixing live-action with animation; however, it was
universally panned at the time…and, catching up with it again after all
these years, I have to admit that the critics were right!
What must have seemed wondrous to a child's eyes is actually very poorly done, not to mention boring for a fantasy-adventure; fatally, both star (ex-'Angry Young Man' Richard Harris) and director (action expert Hunt) are ill-suited to the material! At least, Michel Legrand's score (with lyrics provided by scriptwriter Don Black) is serviceable – if not exactly inspired. By the way, a number of well-known personalities are featured among the voice artists on this British-Belgian co-production (Julian Glover, Bessie Love, Murray Melvin, Robert Rietty, Vladek Sheybal, Graham Stark and, this being his last film work, Michael Bates).
While the essential plot points of Jonathan Swift's classic novel ('giant' Gulliver becomes the pawn in a war between the little people of two neighboring countries and, on escaping, ends up in a land of real giants) do emerge here, it's done on a strictly kiddie level (with stereotyped characters though, thankfully, little intrusion of the comic/romantic variety) – which renders the whole venture somewhat pointless, outside of its intrinsically experimental nature, since Max and Dave Fleischer had already done a splendid feature-length cartoon version of the book way back in 1939!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Peter Hunt started out as a very gifted film editor and got his first
stab at directing when he helmed the James Bond film "On Her Majesty's
Secret Service" (considered by many Bond fans to be the best of the
series). Other titles in his filmography include epic scale adventure
movies like "Gold" and "Shout At The Devil", both adapted from Wilbur
Smith novels. "Gulliver's Travels" is an odd one on his list of films;
it seems strange that a director of Hunt's style and expertise would
choose to direct a film of this kind. A half-live action/half-animated
retelling of Jonathan Swift's classic satire, the film looked twenty
years out of date even when it was made, and in all honesty it simply
doesn't work. And there's not a damn thing that Hunt (with his usual
eye for fast-paced action), or star Richard Harris (who can usually
enliven the most stilted of roles) can do to rescue this one.
Lemuel Gulliver (Richard Harris) is a brilliant medical student living in 17th Century Bristol. His father (Norman Shelley) wants him to go to London to make his fortune; but Gulliver prefers the idea of receiving rather less pay but a heck of a lot more adventure as a ship's surgeon aboard a ship called the 'Antelope'. During a voyage, the 'Antelope' is blown off course during a storm and hits a reef. The ship sinks and everyone is lost, apart from Gulliver . who finds himself washed ashore in the kingdom of Lilliput. When he comes round, Gulliver finds that the strange land where he has washed ashore is populated by incredibly small humans, no taller than his toe. To them, he looks like a giant. They persuade Gulliver to help them in a war against another race of tiny people who live on an adjacent island. But Gulliver doesn't like being manipulated for purposes of war and devastation, so he makes plans to escape .
Harris is left to carry the entire film here. His first couple of scenes involve other actors, but once he is shipwrecked in Lilliput he spends the rest of the film striding over knee-high sets and acting alongside his animated counterparts. The idea of mixing live action and animation was not new at the time, but it certainly hadn't been done a lot. A few Disney movies like Song Of The South, So Dear To My Heart and Pete's Dragon had tampered with the idea, but it was still pretty much in its infancy. "Gulliver's Travels" is not an especially well-animated film, but the scenes showing interaction between Harris and his cartoon co-stars are at least competently done. Occasionally the film tries to be true to its satirical origins (there's one scene where we learn that Lilliput has gone to war with its neighbour because of eggs !?! - and the point seems to be that wars can begin over the most ridiculous of things). But at its heart, this is very much a kids' film and the satirical overtones are barely dwelled upon. Everyone involved has done better things during their career "Gulliver's Travels" might fill an otherwise empty afternoon, but apart from that it is a forgettable and underwhelming experience.
This was painful! Recently given away as a free DVD with a British newspaper, this British-Belgian co-production from 1977 (could've fooled me, it looks ten years older than that at least) is quite deservedly obscure and if you make it past the half-hour mark, consider yourself a trouper. The combining of animation and live action is ropey at best and downright dreadful at worst, which makes you wonder why it was decided to even attempt making the film in this manner when clearly the technology wasn't really there. Harris is no more than a human prop and the animation is some of the most flat and lifeless I've seen, with the obligatory 'trippy' moments (especially where the animation of the brainiac-type Subtracto character is involved) that rendered countless cartoon features from the late sixties onward instantly dated. The screenplay by Don Black provides a convincing argument for the usually resilient lyricist to stick to what he does best, and the pace is so slow that even the very young will be bored. As for adults, stick to Jonathan Swift's original novel.
The originality, strangeness, and mild humor that turned Jonathan Swift's novel, Gulliver's Travels into a classic is not captured at all in this poorly made adaptation of the novel. Please, save the risk of runing the book, and avoid watching this film. Trust me.
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