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Gulliver's Travels [VHS]


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Product Details

  • Actors: Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen, James Fox, Ned Beatty, Edward Fox
  • Directors: Charles Sturridge
  • Writers: Jonathan Swift, Simon Moore
  • Producers: Brian Henson, Chris Thompson, Duncan Kenworthy, Robert Halmi Sr.
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Live, Original recording reissued, NTSC
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Number of tapes: 2
  • Studio: Hallmark
  • VHS Release Date: August 27, 1996
  • Run Time: 187 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6304111835
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #443,417 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

based on Jonathan Swift's 1726 classic, it is enhanced by dazzling special effects from Jim Henson Productions and a superb, multi-ethnic cast. The biggest surprise is Ted Danson in the title role--one of his best performances, even if he is the only person in England without an accent. He conveys amusement, amazement, and intelligence as he travels from one strange country into another. Not that anyone back in Merry Old England believes Mr. Gulliver's tales of little people or giants. The story is told in flashback from an insane asylum, where he is forcibly confined. This far outshines several previous adaptations of Swift's satirical novel. --Rochelle O'Gorman

Amazon.com

Ebulliently imaginative and far more cleverly presented than you would expect from a TV miniseries, this satirical adventure succeeds by never pandering to the lowest common denominator. Closely based on Jonathan Swift's 1726 classic, it is enhanced by dazzling special effects from Jim Henson Productions and a superb, multi-ethnic cast. The biggest surprise is Ted Danson in the title role--one of his best performances, even if he is the only person in England without an accent. He conveys amusement, amazement, and intelligence as he travels from one strange country into another. Not that anyone back in Merry Old England believes Mr. Gulliver's tales of little people or giants. The story is told in flashback from an insane asylum, where he is forcibly confined. This far outshines several previous adaptations of Swift's satirical novel. --Rochelle O'Gorman

Customer Reviews

Great acting and great story.
Karah
Contrary to popular belief, Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver's Travels" was never intended to be simply a children's fantasy / fairy tale.
D. Roberts
Good special effects, though.
sedonaman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 65 people found the following review helpful By D. Roberts VINE VOICE on December 28, 2000
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Contrary to popular belief, Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver's Travels" was never intended to be simply a children's fantasy / fairy tale. Although the Lilliputans are cute as heck, this story has some serious overtones. As a matter of fact, although more subtle perhaps, there are aspects of this tale which are as dark and bitter as the commentaries on humankind written by the likes of Dostoevsky, Camus and Kafka. Jonathan Swift never was a very happy man.
This rendition of Swift's classic is, in a word, fabulous. It reaches to the heart of the message Swift was trying to convey while at the same time is accessible to all. It is also appropriate for a family to watch. I cannot remark enough on just how well done this film was; it would have been so easy to do a half-baked job and let it be yet another ambitious television movie that somehow went awry. I'm so glad that didn't happen here.
In truth, I have never cared too much for Ted Danson. However, in this film he delivers a surprisingly exceptional performance. So much so, in fact, that looking back I can't imagine anyone else as Gulliver. The rest of the cast did a superb job as well, and the inclusion of Peter O'Toole as the king of the Lilliputans was a great touch. (Then again, when can having Peter O'Toole in the cast of a movie ever HURT?) The direction and the way they chose to tell the story was wonderfully done. The soundtrack (written by Trevor Jones, who co-wrote the soundtrack to "The Last Of The Mohicans" among other things) was right on the $$$ for emotionally gripping scenes.
This is the type of ambitious, fervent film-making that studios can be proud of. If one Jonathan Swift were around today, I have no doubt that he could not and would not have asked for a better adaptation of his prose. A GREAT movie!
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Robert Carlberg on October 19, 2008
Format: DVD
I recall being enormously impressed with this 2-part made-for-TV movie when it was first broadcast in 1996, and the intervening twelve years have not diminished it any. The production is fairly true to Swift's original, and contains many innovative and surprisingly-effective special effects (for the time). All of the cast members give boffo performances, particularly hammy Peter O'Toole in the role of a lifetime. But most impressive of all is the gentle and very sly interweaving of fantasy and insanity, where Lemuel Gulliver's state of mind continuously shifts between frames of reference both in size and veracity.

Swift's vulgar sense of humor is given free expression, and the biting satire of his political wit still rings familiar 270 years later. The film contains the free-wheeling giddiness of Terry Gilliam's "Time Bandits" (1981) and the time- and frame-of-reference-shifting vertigo of "Smoke Signals" (1998). Tiny details and thrown-away background elements make it a production for rewarding repeated viewing.

In short this is a film of Brobdingnagian proportions which has received Lilliputian acclaim. This is a gap of Yahooian injustice.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Photoscribe on January 30, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
But this Hallmark TV production was so exceptional, I felt five was the least this sucker deserved.

This was the first of an extended series of high-toned TV movies produced by Robert Halmi Sr. for NBC and ABC that had production values previously unseen on television. In art direction and general feel, this production of the Jonathan Swift classic resembled "Amadeus" more than it resembled "The Winds Of War" or "Mother, Can I Sleep With Danger?".

And considering the choice for the titular lead, comic actor and former model Ted Danson, it could have been a real disaster. It wasn't! The man acquits himself nicely as the somewhat incredulous Lemuel Gulliver, the hero of a satirical tale told by the very cynical Jonathan Swift, Britain's answer to Voltaire. (Actually, Voltaire was a good deal younger than Swift and "Gulliver's Travels" was written 32-33 years before "Candide", allegedly, but they _were_ contemporaries, and had even met!)

The story features very fanciful alllusions to pettiness, classic paranoia of the delusions of grandeur variety, pomposity, a favorite target of Swift's, and superciliousness. There's the tiny Lilliputians, their opposites, the Brondignagians, the equine Houiynihms, (who, I seem to remember, were supposed to resemble giraffes as well,) and many other fantastic characters, all rendered beautifully in this, the first of a distinguished list of first rate classical adaptations shown on NBC in the late 90s.

The cast list is unbelievable...people who had NEVER been on TV before, like Peter O'Toole, Omar Sharif, James Fox, Isabelle Huppert, Geraldine Chaplin (hello!), Shashi Kapoor and John Gielgud were sprinkled all through it. The sets are incredible and acting superb.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Tom Brody VINE VOICE on December 24, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The film is told by way of flash backs. Gulliver (Ted Danson) finds himself ashore in England after a harrowing nine year absence from home. Unfortunately, once back at home in England, he suffers from periodic flashbacks wherein he provides narratives about his adventures in Lilliput, Brobdingnag, on a flying island, and elsewhere. Also unfortunately, even his wife (Mary Steenbergen; wife in real life too) does not believe the contents of his flash-back narratives. For example, towards the end of the movie she is asked if she believes her husband. Instead of saying "no," she avoids the question by replying, "I believe in him."

Everybody will be able to enjoy the brightly colored pomp and fanfares found in the various kingdoms that are encountered during Gulliver's travels. The special effects are almost as good as those found in the early Star Wars movies. Unlike most adventure movies, the movie under review has a high degree of character development. The credentials of the actors, e.g., Peter O'Toole, speak for themselves. Excellent "character actors" are also found, such as the rustic wheat farmer who discovers Gulliver and displays him in a one-man circus. In addition to the special effects, the presence of a boy character (Gulliver's son) and a girl character (wheat farmer's daughter) enhance the attraction of the film for kids.

What the movie is really "about" is not tiny villagers, flying islands, or talking horses. What the movie is really about is certain bizarre aspects of the social order, found at the time of Swift's writing. For example, one goal of the Gulliver story was to protest the practice of selling (as opposed to voting) government positions.
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