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Max Fleischer's Gulliver's Travels - animation DVD / family and children's DVD / Blu-ray DVD review
MAX FLEISCHER'S GULLIVER'S TRAVELS Rated NR by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 2 1/2 stars
Featuring: Jessica Dragonette, Lanny Ross, Pinto Colvig, Jack Mercer, Sam Parker
Directors: Dave Fleischer et al. Distributor: Koch Vision
DVD release: 10 March 2009 Runtime: 76 min.
(1 disc)
Format: Color, Enhanced, Original recording remastered, Restored, Widescreen, Blu-ray
DVD features: 1080p High Definition, Aspect ratio 16x9, Audio tracks (English - 5.1 Dolby Digital, Enhanced Stereo, Restored Original Soundtrack), Two Classic Gabby Cartoons ("Swing Cleaning" and "King for a Day"), "The Making of a Cartoon" (restored Fleischer Studios documentary)

In 1937, Walt Disney's Snow White took the world by storm as America's first feature-length animated film. Producer Max Fleischer quickly expanded his studios in Florida to reply in 1939 with Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels.

It goes like this: Lemuel Gulliver is out on the sea all alone in a horrible gale. The waves crash and rock his vessel until he is cast overboard. When he reaches land he collapses, exhausted.

From the town of Lilliput, Gabby is heading up the night watch. He wanders around the town and its outskirts with his lantern, keeping an eye out for trouble. It's a job done reluctantly. Eventually he stumbles upon Gulliver, still unconscious on the beach. Gabby raises the alarm, running through town yelling "There's a giant on the beach, there's a giant on the beach!" The Lilliputians manage to get Gulliver onto an impromptu rolling platform and up to the king without waking the enervated traveler.

King Little of Lilliput has other troubles: his daughter is going to marry the son of rival king Bombo of Biefuscu. The night Gulliver washes ashore, the kings manage to go to war over what song should be played at the wedding. Gulliver appears to take the side of the Lilliputians (after all, they do clothe, feed, and entertain him), but perhaps he has a better solution than a war.

Fleischer's Gulliver's Travels had a successful run and earned him the credibility to produce other features, though none as successful as Gulliver. The film pales in quality to Snow White, though both used a mix of rotoscoping, in which animators trace over live-action film and traditional animation. The action drags - it seems to take forever for any progress to be made. There's not enough meat in the story, and too much filler. I will credit it for being more kid- friendly than Disney's offering at the time. Snow White had that whole bit about the Queen wanting White's heart in a box. Pretty dark for kids. While there is an attempted homicide in Gulliver, it still never seems as tangible as the crime in Snow White.

Extras are sparse. There's a short feature on the Fleischer studios in Florida along with two quite good Gabby cartoons (I'd say better than the feature). What's lacking is a restoration featurette. There is a blurb on the inside of the jacket on the topic, but I want more. Also, I'm not sure how they got the film to fill a 16x9 screen when it was originally a 1.37:1 ratio - I'm not okay with that.

If you enjoyed Gulliver as a child, by all means pick this up. It probably hasn't looked this good for years, though the restoration doesn't keep it from looking pretty old and muddy. If you haven't seen it and love animation, pick up a copy of Pinocchio on Blu-ray.
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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