Gulliver’s Travels (1939)

“There’s a giant on the beach!”

Gulliver's Travels Poster

Synopsis:
When a sailor named Gulliver washes ashore on the island of Lilliput, he finds himself in the midst of a rivalry between the King of Lilliput and the King of Blefiscu.

Genres:

Review:
Gulliver’s Travels holds historical distinction as the first feature length animated film made by a studio other than Disney. Unfortunately, the heads of Fleischer Studios (responsible for Popeye and Betty Boop) were pressured into trying to repeat the success of Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), and this film comes across as a mostly pale imitation. The narrative is irredeemably weak, the songs are instantly forgettable, and — as in the Fleischer Brothers’ second and last animated feature, Hoppity Goes to Town (1941) — there isn’t a strong central protagonist: none of the Lilliputians are particularly appealing, and Gulliver himself doesn’t even speak until nearly halfway through the movie. On the other hand, there are a few redeeming elements in the film, including the unusual rotoscoping process used to animate Gulliver himself, and the sequence in which the Lilliputians collectively work to haul Gulliver off the beach. Ultimately, while Gulliver’s Travels falls short of status as a true classic, it remains must-see viewing simply for its place in animated cinematic history.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • The Lilliputians using remarkable teamwork to tow Gulliver off of the beach
    Gulliver
  • Interesting early use of rotoscope animation
    Rotoscope

Must See?
Yes, simply for its historical status.

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