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The Mouse and His Child
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Adaptation of Russell Hoban's novel about two mechanical toy mice, and their quest to become "self-winding".
This was one of the first movies I ever saw. I must have been atoddler, barely able to form words when I first saw it. Up until thispast week, the last time I had seen this movie I was probably fiveyears old, but in spite of my young age I never forgot it.Most of the comments I have seen made by others mention thingslike, "this movie probably isn't suited for young children", however Iadored this movie as a very young child, and can honestly say thatI think this movie had a profound effect on who I am today.Some things embed themselves in your memory in a lasting waythat others do not, this movie was one of those things. A simplecartoon, but so much more. The memory of this movie has alwaysbeen with me, and it has always affected me more than manymemories I have of things that I actually experienced. I thought thatI would never see it again and it would remain a memory until Imanaged to pick up a copy on ebay last week. When the moviestarted after I pressed play on my VCR, it was like stepping backinto time and reconnecting with myself at age four. I remembered every visual, every spoken word, my memory justneeded to be jogged. This film is amazingly poignant, deeplythoughtful, and insightful. I feel lucky that I saw it at such a youngage and grew up with its message in my heart.The movie opens up with a homeless man scrounging throughgarbage cans, even though I was only a toddler when I first sawthis movie, I remember immediately feeling compassion for thischaracter, and for other characters throughout. The thing about thismovie that makes it great is not its ability to entertain, but its abilityto make you feel.A toy wind-up mouse and his child awaken to consciousness in atoy shop after hours. "Papa, where are we? What are we?" asksthe child mouse. "I don't know son," is all the father can offer. Theylearn that they are toys, and must do what they are intended to do:be wound up and walk in a circle. The child mouse is distraught;he doesn't want to go out into the world, he wants to stay in the toyshop and have a family with the other toys. They fall off of the shelfand are broken and later taken out with the trash. In one of the movie's more poignant moments, the mouse childsays, "Papa, is THIS the world?" while they are helplessly caughtin a pile of trash. "I hope not," answers the father. They wind up being found by Manny the Rat, a wonderfully craftedvillain who enslaves toys to do his bidding until they are old and ofno use. In a particularly horrific scene, an old wind up donkey isunhinged into spare parts after collapsing from exhaustion. Themouse and his child spend the rest of the movie trying to escapefrom Manny and become "self-winding" so that they no longer haveto depend on someone for their well-being.The messages in this movie are deep and profound, but the moregeneral messages are not so symbolic that they are lost on achild. This movie does so much more than the average "children'smovie", it does not set out to entertain, it sets out to tell a brilliantstory with morals and it succeeds beautifully. In a time where cartoon villains are usually a mix of the comical,ugly and detestable, Manny is a breath of fresh air and far more"real" of a villain. A character driven by greed and power, he alsomaintains a shred of humanity, enough that when he meets hisdownfall at the movie's end, you still manage to feel compassionfor him. This is not a movie where the child roots for the good guysand rejoices when the bad guy is defeated. This is a story wherethe child sees that there is good in evil and evil in good, and thatlove and compassion is the only power that truly matters.If only more children's movies were like The Mouse and Child anddidn't fall prey to the "short attention span" myths. While I'll admitthat this movie probably isn't for some children, it is miles ahead ofany other children's movie that I've seen in terms of content. If youwant your child to sit still for 90 minutes and have mindless prattle,catchy songs and potty humor sieved through their brain, then thismovie is not for you. But if you're looking for your child to actuallylearn something about life and the world, then you have foundwhat you're looking for.
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