An Englishman returns after nine years abroad and tells strange stories of the tiny people of Lilliput, the giants of Brobdingnang, the flying island Laputa and the Houyhnhnms, a race of intelligent horses.
Gulliver washes ashore on Lilliput and attempts to prevent war between that tiny kingdom and its equally minuscule rival, Blefuscu, as well as smooth the way for the romance between the Princess and Prince of the opposing lands. In this he is alternately aided and hampered by the Lilliputian town crier and general fussbudget, Gabby. A life-threatening situation develops when the bumbling trio of Blefuscu spies, Sneak, Snoop, and Snitch, manage to steal Gulliver's pistol.Written by
Paul Penna <email@example.com>
The Fleischer studios were best known for their "Popeye" and "Superman" shorts, but the caliber of animation and story-telling in this 1939 feature-length film were on a par with Disney at that time. Had they not gone bankrupt in 1942, I suspect they would have surpassed Disney in many ways.
The idea here was to do Disney's "Snow White" one better, and they came very, very close. The restored edition on DVD shows the depth and beauty of the artwork to perfection. Fleischer was even perfecting a "stereo-optic" process to add 3-dimensional depth to their images which was used in this film to good effect. The music is typical of the period, rather sugary for today's tastes, and the "Gabby" character introduced in this movie isn't nearly as funny as they seemed to think at the time. (Two "Gabby" shorts are also included on the DVD; draw your own conclusions.)
I can only guess at the reactions of movie-goers who first saw this film in 1939, but I suspect that they were blown away by the sheer scope of the artwork. Gulliver is a "man-mountain" to the Lilliputians, and the scale and perspective between him and the "tiny people" is perfect throughout the film. The sequence where the tiny townspeople use a variety of skills to truss up the sleeping "giant" and cart him (literally!) to their king's palace is, by itself, worth the price of the entire movie.
The pacing is a bit slow during the first part of the film, but the filmmakers do a nice job of setting up the conflict between the two tiny kingdoms, which (true to the spirit of Swift's story) is caused by the pride of the rival kings. I would've preferred less "Gabby" in this sequence, but I understand they were trying to establish a new character to compete with the Mouse.
If you like good animation, you will enjoy this DVD.
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