Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Gulliver's Travels

Gulliver's Travels; animated adventure fantasy, USA, 1939; D: Dave Fleischer, S: Sam Parker, Pinto Colvig, Jessica Dragonette, Lanny Ross

Gulliver, an English sailor, loses his ship in a storm and strands on some coast. But that island, Lilliput, is inhabited by very small people, among them with the clumsy Gabby who one night discovers the unconscious "giant" and alarms the king who sends his men to bring him to his palace. The engineers tie up Gulliver and use cranes to transport him on a giant wagon. But once at the palace, Gulliver wakes up and scares everyone, yet tells them that he doesn't want to hurt them. They become friends, especially Gabby who feels "elevated" at his side. Gulliver teaches the inhabitants with a lot of wisdom and helps them in accepting the love between princess Glory and prince David and the war struck kingdoms they represent, thus leaving home.

Shining animated adventure fantasy "Gulliver's Travels" is a hidden jewel in the opus of the Fleischer brothers, a refreshingly alive and opulent children's story with a lot of simple, yet clever layers. It's first and foremost a movie of situations whose observations are rich with interesting scenes: for instance, the entire sequence where the small Lilliputanians tie up the unconscious "giant" hero - who lies over the horizon almost as an epic figure - from his hair up to his shoes, is so rich with imagination and passionate details that it shows the whole genius of Max and Dave Fleischer summed up in just a few minutes, proving to be undated by the sheer fact that it can be watched again and again without any effort. There are also other neat moments, like when Gulliver (animated using the rotoscope technique) stops the ships in the sea with ease while the arrows shot at him only tickle him, whereas the moment where he uses two fingers to dance with the awfully sympathetic "comic relief" character Gabby, drawn like a caricature, is wonderful. Actually, it's as if Gulliver is drawn to be the largest character precisely because he is so wise, helping the naive Lilliputanians accept their difference and become mature. Funny and touching, suspenseful and epic, the movie was compared to Disney's "Snow White", but it's a imaginative and original work on its own.


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