Based on the fairy tale by The Brothers Grimm. Hansel and Gretel are trapped in the deceptively decorated house of the witch Griselda who wishes to fatten Hansel so that he may be baked ... See full summary »
Based on the classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale, Hansel and Gretel is a dark and stylized, black and white, German Expressionistic silent picture featuring detailed design and an eerie ... See full summary »
If you go down to the woods tonight be sure of the biggest surprise of your life! When Hansel and Gretel's wicked stepmother leads them into the dark forest, the children find themselves in... See full summary »
When a poor Depression-era mountain father and stepmother can no longer afford to feed their children, Hansel and Gretel, they walk them into the woods and "lose" them. Banjo tunes ... See full summary »
With brilliant imagination and technical wizardry, this 1954 feature film used stop-action animation, and hand-sculpted dolls and sets to create a fantasy land of unearthly beauty. Set to Engelbert Humperdinck's classic 1892 opera, sung by some of the most acclaimed performers of the 1950's, this recording was nominated for a Grammy Award. This may be the definative production of one of the greatest fairy tales ever told, and it is now on DVD. Written by
The story/fairy-tale is one of the best-known and is a timeless one, while Humperdinck's opera still enchants me after being first acquainted with it 11 or so years ago. It is also one of the most accessible operas(with the music not too heavy and it's a story almost everybody knows) and one of the few to translate well into English.
This 1954 film does get a little hurried visually and narratively at the end, but is overall one of the best versions of both the fairy-tale and the opera(I personally saw it for the first time recently so don't have nostalgic bias for it). The visuals are beautiful and clever, charming in the lighter parts and atmospheric in the darker parts. The amount of effort put into making the film is more than evident throughout. Humperdinck's music is enchanting and is not trivialised whatsoever here, it's played with energy and depth by the orchestra and beautifully paced. The choral singing is well-balanced and committed, if recording the music was indeed punishing it doesn't show at all in the singing.
Hansel and Gretel(1954) works well also in the writing and story departments. The script is whimsical and witty, enough to make one laugh, bite the nails and occasionally cry(not exactly emotionally but because there are scenes done so beautifully that it does evoke some emotion, notably the dream pantomime). The storytelling is close in detail and spirit to both the fairy-tale's story and the opera and captures the essence of both. Filled with cute animals, charmingly lovely moments like the dream pantomime(figuratively and literally heavenly here), funny moments- both light hearted and dark- like with the chemistry between Hansel and Gretel and especially the witch, whimsy and darkly scary moments like with again the witch, there is enough to captivate children and adults alike, not making the mistake of making it too scary for children or too juvenile for adults.
All the characters engage in personality and there is a real attempt to make them individual, the most memorable and most colourful character being quite easily the witch. All the acting and singing is top-notch, several have picked out Anna Russell as the standout and I am going to whole-heartedly agree, Russell is hilarious and genuinely creepy as the witch and was clearly having a whale of a time. That does not mean though that the likes of Mildred Dunnock, Frank Rogier and Christine Brigham didn't excel, they certainly did in fact with Dunnock an authoritative and no-nonsense mother-figure, Rogier is a Father that is easy to feel sorry for and Brigham's Hansel and Gretel are both spirited and appealing. Just that Russell made the biggest impression. Overall, fantastical in every sense, for lovers of the story, the opera or both this is a version that is not to be missed. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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