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Gulliver's Travels


Gulliver's Travels

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As hard as it is to believe now, especially with the eminent arrival of the sure-to-fail Anastasia, the position of top feature-length animation studio has not always belonged to Disney, but was once up for grabs. After the release of Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs, Paramount and Max Fleischer Studios (Betty Boop, Popeye) responded with this big-budget, Technicolor, song-filled adaptation of Jonathan Swift's classic, now re-released in a remastered (though still somewhat washed-out) form. Very loosely adapting the first section of Swift's work, in which the title character finds himself stranded on an island whose proportions make him seem a giant, Gulliver's Travels is considerably more interesting as a historical curio than as entertainment. Though not without imaginative touches, the surrealism of the Fleischer Brothers' other work has been toned down in favor of mere cuteness and syrupy songs. The high-strung little people are amusing enough, their size lending itself to instant comedy when placed beside the gigantic Gulliver, but the frequent musical numbers slow things down considerably. Also a problem is Gulliver himself: The Fleischers' use of rotoscoping (in which live action is traced into animated form) looks awkward amidst the more traditional animation, and Gulliver is portrayed as a dull but benignly indulgent, sleepy-eyed, cowboy-like god. Kids probably won't be bored, and animation fans will find much of interest, but most people won't be entertained by an uneven movie to which time has not been kind.