Monday, October 26, 2009

1960 - THE 3 WORLDS OF GULLIVER is 1/3 of Johnathan Swift

Ray Harryhausen and Charles Schneer didn't make films with social satire in them so doing a version of Gulliver's Travels seems like a weird idea for their next film after The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.

Harryhausen's given interviews in which he stated that Columbia Studios was looking for a quick follow-up to Sinbad to cash in on that film's success. Apparently the script for The 3 Worlds Of Gulliver was available. The other problem for Harryhausen and Schneer was that they also needed something that didn't require a lot of time consuming stop motion animation. The 3 Worlds Of Gulliver is a film full of a lot of optical effects.

The first part of the film which is about Gulliver's adventures in Lilliput actually sticks pretty closely to the book. Most of the plot is left intact. However one funny change from the book is the scene where Gulliver puts out the fire in the King's palace by peeing on it. In this film Gulliver spits wine all over the palace which was equally gross.

The movie start to fall apart when Gulliver ends up in Brobdingnag the land of the giants. From here the plot turns into a science vs ignorance thing with Gulliver matching wits with the king's sorcerer. Gulliver does battle with a giant stop motion alligator and he and his wife(?) end up escaping from the giants and returning to England.

Since this was a children's film nobody was going to film the last part of Gulliver's Travels where Gulliver cracks up and spends the rest of his life living by himself and talking to horses.
The film is just OK, the first part is clearly the best. The optical effects for a film made in 1959 still look pretty good.

Bernard Herrmann's music has to do a lot of work to keep the whimsical fantasy element of the film on track.

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