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The Pied Piper is director Jacques Demy's masterful retelling of the classic children's tale. Set in the Middle Ages, the divided town of Hamelin tries in vain to rid itself of the black plague. When a mysterious musician arrives (played by music legend Donovan), can the townspeople put aside their personal agendas to rid themselves of their rat infestation? Or will the petty and greedy town leaders, led by the sublimely creepy Donald Pleasence, attempt to take advantage of their savior? With great music and spectacular costumes and sets, The Pied Piper is a fascinating take on a familiar legend.
French director Jacques Demy s The Pied Piper is an early 1970s adaptation of the Grimm fairy tale, filmed in Germany with a mostly British cast. A dark yet sometimes droll and allegoric mix of fantasy, horror, religion and politics set during the dark ages, the film has been largely unseen since it aired on the USA Network (that s right, they used to show stuff like this back in the day) in the 1980s. [...]
In Germany during the summer of 1349, the plague (aka Black Death ) is sweeping the countryside and claiming many victims as a disease spread by rats. A young gypsy (Keith Buckley, Dr. Phibes Rises Again) is traveling by wagon to the town of Hamelin with his family of actors. Along the way, they run into a friendly Pied Piper (Donovan) who joins their group, and ultimately earns them entrance into the town when he sooths the ill Burgomaster s daughter Lisa (Cathryn Harrison) with his music. Lisa (who is 11 years old) is about to marry power-hungry Franz (John Hurt), whose father, the Baron (Donald Pleasence), is mainly concerned with financing the building of a cathedral. While the wedding is being prepared, black rats carrying the plague have invaded Hamelin, and even though wise old Alchemist Melius (Michael Hordern) is trying to use a scientific approach to the problem, he is thrown into a dungeon cell. Is the mystical Pied Piper the only soul capable of freeing the town of its rat infestation?
When Paramount first released The Pied Piper in 1972, its theatrical run was very limited and it has remained fairly obscure to this day, even to those who follow director Demy s career. While it s certainly not a perfect film, it s very good one at the least, retelling the Grimm Brothers tale fairly faithfully with cinematic style and a satirical distaste for religious and political hypocrisy. Although the film got away with a G rating in the U.S., the opening minutes show a couple of skeletal corpses being ravished by rats (apparently they were trained, and none are shown being abused or actually attacking anyone), and forcing an adolescent girl to be married, as well as a climatic burning at the stake of one of the main characters, don t exactly fit the mold of a children s film. It s all done rather tastefully though, and this could be deemed a fairytale for adults and children alike. [...]
As the Pied Piper, 1960s folk rock icon Donovan is well cast, and he even gets to sing and strum some pleasant tunes on his guitar. He seems a little distant (I guess that s the point, as he's an ambiguous stranger in town) and plays it low key, but always gives the impression that the character is enlightened and has the upper hand over a mostly doomed community. The late Jack Wild [...] plays the lame boy Gavin, though he was pushing 20 at the time. Michael Hordern is great as the Jewish alchemist disparaged by the church despite his sensible ways.. [...] John Hurt (still years before he found worldwide accolades from Alien and The Elephant Man) stands out as the nasty Franz, and as his father, Donald Pleasence s character is underdeveloped but he s still great to watch.
As mentioned before, The Pied Piper has never been released on home video in the U.S. until now, and although it is a barebones affair, this DVD is still cause for celebration. The film has been presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement, and framing looks good throughout. Aside from some minor speckling here and there, the print source is very clean and detail is crisp. Although the film was shot with a primarily drab look, the colors shine here, especially the red robes of the Bishop and his cohorts, and all in all, this is an excellent transfer. The mono English audio is also well rendered, and although there are no subtitle options, the disc is close captioned. --George R. Reis of DVDDrive-In.com
As I was born in Hamelin and grew up with the pipers tale, I love this film. It shows a time more than 700 years ago, very interesting:
And a good Artist and musican in the... Read more
I'm a bit mystified by some previous comments about this film being "dated" -- it's certainly of its time, but that's one of its many strengths. Read morePublished 15 months ago by William Timothy Lukeman
I really enjoyed the movie and would recommend it to my friends and family. I'm glad in got it, because I am defiantly enjoying watching it more than once!Published 18 months ago by helaina
Great movie although it was a little different. Donovan did a great job as the piper and the rest of the cast did a great job as well! Recommended if your a fan of the story!Published 21 months ago by Carla D. Bilbrey
I am very glad for the DVD I have never seen it in a cinima,
so I am glad for it to my Domovan colection
The year is 1349, and the people of Hamelin are building a cathedral in hopes of warding off the Plague. Read morePublished on February 24, 2013 by Kona
My favourite period of history is the Middle Ages and I firmly believe this film sewed that seed when I was a child. Read morePublished on May 9, 2012 by NuttyKnitter
This movie is a must for all Jack Wild and Donovan fans...however, I'll admit that if you are a fan of neither, you will likely find this movie boring, and the acting poor. Read morePublished on January 30, 2011 by UnionGracie