A scientist is nearly assassinated. In order to save him, a submarine is shrunken to microscopic size and injected into his blood stream with a small crew. Problems arise almost as soon as they enter the bloodstream.
Doctor Gulliver is poor, so nothing - not even his charming fiancée Elisabeth - keeps him in the town he lives. He signs on to a ship to India, but in a storm he's washed off the ship and ends up on an island, which is inhibitated by very tiny people. After he managed to convince them he's harmless and is accepted as one of their citizens, their king wants to use him in war against a people of giants. Compared to them, even Gulliver is a gnome.Written by
Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>
The reteaming of Kerwin Mathews, Bernard Herrman and Ray Harryhausen after the success of THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD may not be the classic we were hoping for, but instead is a kiddie-orientated version of the classic Jonathan Swift tale GULLIVER'S TRAVELS with enough ingredients to make it enjoyable for adults too. Sure, at times the film is sentimental and goes overboard in promoting a strong moral message, but this is never offensive as in recent productions. In retrospect, it all seems rather charming and a little dated, but that's what makes it unique. This is a colourful and lively romp which is fun for adults and children alike.
I'm sure the classic tale is familiar to most readers so I won't bother readdressing it, other than that this film concerns solely on the two kingdoms of Lilliput and Brobdingnan, ignoring the other minor lands of Swift's tale and concentrating on the most well-remembered ones. The first half of the film concerns Lilliput, and is boosted by some fine effects from Harryhausen which involve lots and lots of back and forward projection which is never less than convincing. Indeed the classic scene of Gulliver being tied down by the little people is present and as realistic as you could ever want it. The characters are interesting, the story good and bolstered by the likable presence of Kerwin Mathews, one of the most naturally charming of fantasy actors from the period who always lifted any movie he appeared in (another good one is JACK THE GIANT KILLER).
The second half of the film, concerning the land of the giants, isn't quite as good, but again the special effects of the miniature Mathews and Thorburn are better than average. Although it drags a little at times, the characters are interesting if not likable, and thankfully some stop-motion animation is interested by Harryhausen to enliven the proceedings. The creations include a briefly-seen but genuinely impressive giant squirrel which abducts Mathews, miniature animals kept in cages, and a miniature crocodile which then proceeds to battle Mathews in a fight to the death, a classic action moment which comes as a reward to those looking for Sinbad-style monster action.
THE 3 WORLDS OF GULLIVER is a film worth watching for the talent involved alone. As well as Mathews, the quality cast includes the lovely June Thorburn as the love interest and a whole host of familiar British character actors - including Charles Lloyd Pack in a meaty role for a change as an evil wizard - playing the miniature people and the giants. Bernard Herrman's score is also lively and always entertaining, whilst Harryhausen seamlessly integrates the large and small people so that you never for a moment doubt the quality of his effects. Not a classic, but a fine, friendly, old-fashioned adventure, as heartwarming and cliffhanging in equal measure as you could want. A TV-movie adaptation (with lots of unnecessarily-added extraneous scenes) with Ted Danson followed in the mid 90's.
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