The Pied Piper
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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
Top Customer Reviews
But the important thing about this movie, is that is really a great retelling of The Pied Piper. Although, the acting is surprisingly stiff considering the calibur of actors, the scenes are realistic for the times. Filmed in Germany, itself, the countryside is gorgeous. The costumes are really funny, especially the hats!!
Donovan does two really pretty songs, but this is not a musical by any means. He plays a small role, even though he is the Pied Piper (and he plays a real guitar instead of lute). Jack Wild does the best acting job (a very underrated actor). He plays the crippled boy who is left behind. But unlike the written version, where the boy is crying "wait for me!", Jack's character is on the verge of becoming a man and realizes that he has a new life ahead of him and accepts being left behind.
Unless you know the real story, it is not really clear why the Piper takes all the children and it ends without the adults realizing the children are even gone.
This is a more adult-centered version of 'The Pied Piper', and the story and the color are well worth the price, even if only for the historical value of a young Donovan, the late Jack Wild and a celebration of the 70s!
However, if you've ever read 'The Brother's Grim', you might recognize the authenticity. This ain't no Disney version! There are some great actors involved, especially Donald Pleasant and Michael Hordern. Even Donovan has the right 'vibe' for the story. The whole thing has an early 70's feel, where anything can happen, and to some degree it does.
This is much better than "The Model Shop". I suspect the director was more comfortable in medieval Germany than in hip Los Angeles. Add great costumes, good songs, and excellent acting, and you get a pretty unique experience. If you are up for something a little different - something that certainly could never be made today, with no happy ending - this movie could be very entertaining and memorable
In response to it not being a musical or a children's film, it was originally intended as a children's film (according to Maltin) and Donovan did write five or so songs and had he written seven it would have been a musical. He does a beautiful rendition of "Sailing Homeward" (here retitled "Riding Homeward" written a year earlier for his Open Road documentary) It is a crime that Donovan didn't release a soundtrack for this nor Brother Sun Sister Moon released two years later. Not a bad film, although I brought it just to see Donovan.
Having said that, let me add that it works just as superbly as a faithful retelling of the classic tale, without any pandering to the audience or a false happy ending. Donovan, who wrote the music & songs as well as playing the titular character, is good in his role -- his fey, otherworldly persona suits that of the Piper to perfection. And he's ably surrounded by fine actors: in particular, a very young John Hurt, playing a nasty & vicious young German nobleman; Donald Pleasance as his father, obsessed with building a great cathedral to ensure safe passage into Heaven; and Michael Hordern as the Jewish doctor/alchemist, the wisest & most sensible man in Hamelin, who pays a terrible price for being humane & decent.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It was a good film for that time.California and Illinois were not up on cockney & posh.Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
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 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 on March 13, 2014 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 on November 25, 2013 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