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"The Velveteen Rabbit" Has Always Been One of My Most Influential Fairytales...and This Adaptation Does it Justice.
on November 10, 2014
As stated before, "The Velveteen Rabbit" is pretty much my most favorite of fairytales. Something about it touched significantly when I was a child, and still does to this day. With that said, I had some misgivings about seeing this film. On the one hand, I was curious as to how they would pull this off (especially being a combination of animation and live-action), but on the other hand, I did not want to see them butcher MY fairytale.
Anyone who read the book will immediately find by the opening scene that this is not the tale "your Mom read you". And as you go on, so many things were changed. I was slightly disconcerted. Normally, variations don't bother me, but when it comes to something that has such nostalgic power and connection to you, it can be difficult sometimes. But I stuck with it and found that this version is a wonderfully imagined and matured tale. It ingeniously implements the main plot points and keeps the spirit of the original, but brings fresh light to the key point of the tale, " 'Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.' "
This film was intended to be a family film and it stays true to that purpose. There is absolutely nothing that I could find to be particularly offensive on any level.
PLOT (ABSOLUTELY NO SPOILERS):
One thing that is nice about this film is that it has a clear direction and nothing is too ambiguous. Children can easily follow this movie. But, there is a lot of meat and content for older viewers as well. All audiences of any age will understand the main tale of love...but more mature viewers will be able to muse over more subtle themes of faith, cynicism, naivete, regret, and redemption. It's a tale that really tries to appeal to everyone...in a good way. The pacing was actually quite good. What I really digged though was that though this is a VERY liberal execution of the source material, they still followed the key plot points and implemented very imaginative ways of executing them. The ways they crafted it allowed the plot points to better fit their direction, while still maintaining the nostalgia that most who have read the original will appreciate. The only thing is, I would have slightly changed the ending to give a stronger resolution for some of the other toys...but if I told you how, that would border on spoiling things. I was moved to tears at points...similar to when I read the original.
I found the characters, in general, to be likable and effective. Nana and Dad were my favorites to watch as they evolved...and their struggles were things that many deal with to this day. The only character I found that irked me just a little was the rabbit himself. Now, in a way it actually worked out best that way because it gave the rabbit room to grow as you did see him mature as the movie went on...but initially, he was a little "too much" for me at points. Still, any faults the rabbit may have had were totally eclipsed by the tale as a whole.
Honestly, the special features are negligible. There are cast interviews, cast bios, and deleted scenes. Of all of these, I love documentary type things so Cast Bios and Cast interviews naturally are my first draw. However, the cast bios are basically a paragraph or two that you read...I would have previewed that they present themselves or something. And as to the cast interviews...it was short with not much information. Just some opinions and feelings...but really I felt they could have done something so much more meaningful with this. It just seemed like it was there to just be able to say it was there.
ALL IN ALL:
This is a beautiful and stirring rendition of a tale as old as time. The characters were well represented, the tale itself was wonderfully and imaginatively executed...and the spirit of the original tale still rings true. It's hard not to be moved by this one. By the end, just like the original book, it challenged me and the way I see things.