Saturday, 8 June 2013

The Three Worlds of Gulliver (1960)

Very very loose adaptation of the famous Gulliver's Travels children's stories by Johnathan Swift. When I say loose I mean real loose as this film covers the first voyage of Gulliver and then parts of the second. It then ignores the remaining adventures completely and goes off on its own tangent.

It seems pretty accurate for the most part of what its covering from the novel, of course a lot is missing and it seems much is added or altered. Not that it matters really as the stories are probably too much for one film and what we get is a delightful family film that can't fail to entertain. The whole atmosphere and style with along with quaint visuals remind me very much of 'Hans Christian Anderson' with Danny Kaye, bright, bold, colourful, very pleasing performances and a cheerful easy going approach.

Speaking of performances I was surprised I really was, there is quite a bit of nice humour in this and when I say humour I don't mean kiddie laughs, I mean adults will giggle too. Its not heavy satire or rude but just nice amusing dialog that kinda leans towards Mel Brooks type material in places, but very easy going. The famous sequence where Gulliver is tied down and being overlooked by Lilliput officials is a really good humoured sequence with some nice chucklesome lines and visuals. Some really amusing bickering between characters and all played out really well by the cast.

Also later on when Gulliver is in the land of giants (Brobdingnag) the casting for the King and his personal magician is again very good, especially the King who such a jolly fellow. Must also mention Kerwin Matthews as Gulliver who is made to measure for his role (no pun intended...or maybe it was...hmm), this part fits him like a glove and he's a likeable chap too which helps. No idea who all the actors are to be honest but they are all excellent I must say.

As for good old Harryhausen...well despite this film being listed on his filmography there is little here from the great animator. Just an animated squirrel and alligator and that's it, both are great of course, the alligator being the better or more fun, but they are not seen for very long so. Sparse on Harryhausen stop motion I'm afraid.

I don't really see the heavy satire and various themes which are known within the original stories. Probably because much of the original material is missing or cut down, Gulliver's time in Lilliput does show small hints of political satire from the Lillipit Emperor, his regime and decisions but I think this is mainly meant to be a family film.

I had some reservations about the film I must admit, thought it might be too tame and childish, but it turns out to be a lovely film with some outstanding visual size effects (although obvious in technique). Don't expect anything spectacular in terms of plot or ideas, the film is very basic and plays out like a bedtime story for children. But at the same time don't let that put you off because all the charming sets, perky characters and performances will make you smile.