I’m surprised how little these films are known. Many people seem to have nostalgia connected to them, but I saw them only a year ago and loved them, despite having no childhood memories attached to them.
A brief description of them. These films were produced with Reader’s Digest Films, and are faithful adaptions of famous short stories. Actually, there were some films made under this company that differed from those guidelines, but the films I am talking about are these four: The Christmas Messenger, The Happy Prince, The Little Mermaid, and The Selfish Giant. Finally, there is The Remarkable Rocket, but I haven’t been able to find that anywhere to watch, after searching for a long time.
Anyway, as I said, they are very faithful to their source material, but the animation and music is what makes them worth watching as opposed to just reading the books. The animation is quite simple, but in my opinion, really wonderful and captivating. In each of these films there is a musical montage, which at first seem kind of silly, but you can’t help but get into it, and these musical moments are actually some of the high points of the films. For The Happy Prince, The Selfish Giant, and The Little Mermaid, these musical moments were conducted by Ron Goodwin.
Three of these four films (The Selfish Giant, The Little Mermaid, and The Christmas Messenger ) were directed by Peter Sander, who hasn’t directed much else that I can find. I would have made this topic about him, except The Happy Prince is probably the second best film of this bunch, and it was directed by Michael Mills. Potterton Productions itself was helmed by Gerald Potterton, who is most famous for his film Heavy Metal (which was released under a different company, after Potterton Productions was shut down). It is a bit awkward to make this topic about that company since I only have seen the four films from them that were produced with Reader’s Digest Films, but I couldn’t think of a better way to file it. If you have seen other Potterton Productions films, please feel free to talk about them here.
The strength of these films lies in their straightforward, simple nature. The only show-offy moments of these films are the musical montages, which somehow always fit perfectly within the rest of the film. The animation and narration is always combined perfectly for maximum charm. The animation is hard to describe, but it is really winning, and hopefully if you watch it, you will see what I mean. Of course, the literature chosen for these films are among the best, and these films benefit from not trying to hide their spiritual or dark nature. So The Little Mermaid actually ends correctly, as opposed to Disney’s tacked on happy ending.
I wonder if anyone here has seen these, but I hope some people will watch them and give it a chance, despite them being seemingly kid-oriented. They are very rewarding for adults in my opinion, and while simply told, hold a lot of power.
Hopefully I’m not alone in my appreciation for these films. But only one of these (The Selfish Giant) is in the Mubi database, and even that film only has four fans. I really think these films are great, and are better than a lot of Disney efforts. (Even some from their best period). My goal in this thread is to see if anyone else knows of them, and also to hopefully help some people discover them.
These films are available on YouTube. If you only want to watch one, I would suggest The Selfish Giant, as I think it’s the best.
The Christmas Messenger (Unfortunately the size here is very small)Part OnePart TwoPart Three
The Selfish GiantPart OnePart Two
The Little MermaidPart OnePart Two
The Happy PrinceFull Movie
I hope some people will watch and fall in love with these films as I did!
Nice write up R&B.
I’ve never heard of him. Thanks Rock & Bull!