1996, BBC. Directed by Dave Unwin. Alan Bennett, Emma Chambers, Michael Gambon, Rik Mayall, Michael Palin, Vanessa Redgrave.
Decent Films Ratings
|?Kids & Up|
Content advisory: Mild excitement and action; a potentially confusing sequence involving a brief appearance by Pan.
Buy at Amazon.com
The Wind in the Willows (VHS)
From a National Catholic Register review
By Steven D. Greydanus
There are a number of animated versions of The Wind in the Willows, and two from 1996 alone. Of these two, the version more likely to please fans of Grahame’s book is not the satiric revisionist production distributed in the U.S. by Disney as Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and directed by Monty Python alum Terry Jones. Rather, it is the BBC version from the producers of the excellent World of Peter Rabbit and Friends series, directed by Dave Unwin and distributed on DVD and VHS by GoodTimes.
Like the Peter Rabbit episodes, The Wind in the Willows begins and ends with charming live-action sequences, this time featuring a narrator (Vanessa Redgrave) telling the story to some children. Once again episodes and dialogue are drawn straight from the source material, though with Grahame’s much longer story more editing has been necessary. The animation, though less striking than Peter Rabbit’s lovely watercolor backgrounds, evokes the classic illustrations of Ernest Shepard.
Note: Beware a disappointing sequel from the same filmmakers, The Willows in Winter, based on an apocryphal book sequel not by Grahame but by William Horwood. Human characters figure much more prominently, and unpleasantly, than in the original, and the moral is deeply muddled. On DVD the two films come on one disc, but the whole value of the DVD is in the first film.