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DVD Review: An Ultimate Gulliver Collection

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Containing 208 minutes of animated Gulliver and Gulliver-related material, this really is An Ultimate Gulliver Collection. The main attraction is the wonderful Max Fleischer feature Gulliver’s Travels (1939). Although Fleischer is an undisputed legend in the world of animation, he only made two full-length films over the course of his long career. Gulliver’s Travels was a success upon release, but the follow-up Mister Bug Goes To Town (1941) was a disaster, and from then on he concentrated on shorts such as Popeye and Superman.

It is easy to see why Gulliver’s Travels was so popular though, it is simply gorgeous. From the story, to the music, to the strikingly rich colors, this is something of a forgotten classic. As a cornerstone of English literature, most people are familiar with the basic outline of Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. Briefly, a young man named Gulliver finds himself shipwrecked in the land of Lilliput, where he is a giant in comparison to the natives.

Town-crier Gabby is the Lilliputian who discovers Gulliver, and alerts everyone. The character of Gabby became so popular in his own right, that Fleischer spun him off into a series of short features simply called “Gabby.” An Ultimate Gulliver Collection contains seven of these little gems, and all are worthwhile.

The second full-length film here is titled Gulliver’s Travels Beyond The Moon (1965). This is a strange one. It is a Japanese film, which was dubbed into English, and the music was changed to appeal to Western audiences. The basic plot finds a much older Gulliver traveling in outer space. It is somewhat reminiscent of that enduring oddity Santa Claus Conquers The Martians (1964).

Gulliver’s Travels Beyond The Moon is fun to watch, but it does not hold a candle to Fleischer’s original. The most amazing bonus feature on the set is “Gulliver’s Travels Among The Lilliputians And The Giants” directed by the legendary Georges Melies in 1902. This was also the year of what is likely his most famous work, “A Trip To The Moon.”

The French filmmaker was an absolute genius, as his take on Gulliver perfectly demonstrates. Although the fim is only 4:15 long, it is a wonder of its time. In fact it holds up perfectly fine today, over 100 years after being made.

An Ultimate Gulliver Collection is a very modestly priced, and enormously entertaining DVD. I recommend it to just about anyone. Whether your interest is in the Gulliver stories, the wonderful animation talents of Max Fleischer, oddball Japanese/US cartoons of the ’60s, or the genius of Georges Melies – there really is something for everyone here.

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