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 ... See full summary »
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.
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>
As of this film's production, both Ray Harryhausen (the creator of special visual effects) and producer Charles H. Schneer decided to make their permanent homes in London. This was not only because of Harryhausen's love for the exotic European locales he would use in all of his future projects, but it was also cheaper to make his kind of movies there. Harryhausen lived in London ever after, whereas Schneer lived there for 45 years before moving to Florida in 2005, four years before his own passing. See more »
When Gulliver begins uprooting trees for the Lilliputians, they are normal with green leaves at the top, but when he replants them they look like shrubs without any leaves. See more »
Emperor of Lilliput:
I have it! We could send him to Blefuscu and order THEM to kill him... That way he's their problem. It may not be nice, but it's legal!
See more »
Opening credits prologue: Wapping, England 1699 See more »
The special effects that let Gulliver be a giant in Lilliput and a mite in Brobdingnag are by the reigning genius of the day, Ray Harryhausen, but writer/director Jack Sher's 1960 film wisely uses them only in the service of the story. They have held up quite well, in part because they were used with restraint to begin with and they do nothing to interrupt or distract from the story and its points. (A minor exception could be the fight with a giant animated crocodile that must have been damn fun for the effects team, but even it is kept within reason.)
Is this a film for children or a film for adults? The too-easy answer is that it is obviously a children's version: There is none of the trumped-up insanity element that the dreary-but-great-looking 1996 TV movie shoe-horned in for cheap drama. Neither is there the despair or genuine misanthropy of the book.
Only Lilliput and Brobdingnag are visited. (No Laputa, Balnibari, Luggnag, Glubbdubdrib, Japan, or Houyhnhnms. The third world is Gulliver's own normal-sized world.) Gulliver puts out the fire in Lilliput by spitting wine. (In the book, the wine has been processed by Gulliver's bladder before he douses the fire with it.) Many characters, though not all, are all done in a cartoonish way clearly aimed at children. The travels are framed within the added-on love story of Gulliver and his fiancée Elizabeth.
These are good choices. Children are inherently interested in the size contrasts. (It must add something to the experience that first they identify with the Lilliputians but later identify with Gulliver.) Spitting the wine is good enough. The cartoonish-ness makes the characters less threatening than they could have been. The love story is light and easy to follow, and promotes marriage.
There are even a couple of musical numbers, one a love song that Gulliver sings. The Bernard Herrmann score is a fine complement to the film, as you would expect from the composer of music for the original Psycho, Citizen Kane, Magnificent Ambersons, Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Day the Earth Stood Still, Alfred Hitchcock Presents (tv), Have Gun Will Travel (tv), Perry Mason (tv), Twilight Zone, Cape Fear (1962), Taxi Driver, and on and on and on.
But Sher's script and direction have preserved some important points and spirit from the book: The gratitude of princes is short-lived. The causes of war can be shockingly petty. Vanity and unreason among the powerful make truth an early casualty in the pursuit of power. The various unpleasant characters (and the few nice ones) actually reflect things inside all of us. If it's okay for an adult to be reminded of these things in a playful way (certainly more playful than the original), then this film will amuse and inform that adult.
And what are Gulliver and Elizabeth doing when their ball-field sized marriage license falls over them like a tent, and King Brob, peeking under it, is moved to say, "You're right dear. I'd better marry them at once."
Ultimately, it has to go down in the books as a children's film, but surely an uncommon one: an intelligent adaptation, if abridged and lighthearted, of a great classic, that stands on its own for entertainment and, if you like, can whet your child's appetite for the book when that time arrives.
Like the tacked-on love story, there is a tacked-on ending that suggests that the whole thing might have been a dream. I originally found this annoying.
These days, watching with my little girl, I find that I'm glad for the admittedly sore-thumb reminder that the value of the story is not in whether those characters do or don't exist, but in what the story says about what is within us. As with all such points in the film, you'll have to talk with your child a bit to be sure that it comes across, but what a pleasure - to find a film that sparks such a discussion with your child.
-------------------------------------------------------- Writer - filmography -------------------------------------------------------- Female Artillery (1972) (TV) (story) Goodbye, Raggedy Ann (1971) (TV) Move Over, Darling (1963) Critic's Choice (1963) Love in a Goldfish Bowl (1961) Paris Blues (1961) 3 Worlds of Gulliver, The (1960) ... aka Worlds of Gulliver, The (1960) Wild and the Innocent, The (1959) Kathy O' (1958) (also story) Joe Butterfly (1957) Four Girls in Town (1956) Walk the Proud Land (1956) ... aka Apache Agent (1956) World in My Corner (1956) (also story) Kid from Left Field, The (1953) Off Limits (1953) ... aka Military Policemen (1953) (UK) Shane (1953) (additional dialogue) My Favorite Spy (1951)
-------------------------------------------------------- Director - filmography -------------------------------------------------------- Love in a Goldfish Bowl (1961) 3 Worlds of Gulliver, The (1960) ... aka Worlds of Gulliver, The (1960) Wild and the Innocent, The (1959) Kathy O' (1958) Four Girls in Town (1956)
(with thanks to The Internet Movie Database http://www.imdb.com)
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