|TITLE & REVIEW|
The original book by Jonathan Swift has been treated as a child's tale for many years, no doubt censored and sanitized by the Victorians. However, this big-budget made-for-television retelling shows it for the sharp and witty satire it was meant to be.
Ted Danson excels as Doctor Lemmuel Gulliver, who staggers home after being lost at sea for many years. He meets his wife [played by Danson's RL wife Mary Steenburgen ] and young son, and tells them [and us, in flashback] of his travels. The SPFX are incredible, especially when the story cuts into the flashbacks.
Shipwrecked, Gulliver is washed ashore in the land of Lilliput and discovered by Nicholas Lyndhurst [Only Fools And Horses] and Edward Woodward [The Equalizer]. Not only do they speak with Dorset accents, they are only a couple of inches tall! Gulliver is taken to the King of Lilliput, Peter O'Toole, and enlisted in Government service.
The Brothers Fox, Charles and Edward, both appear in the show - but not together or as brothers. One plays a Prince of Lilliput, the other is a schemer who has taken advantage of Gulliver's long absense to ingratiate himself with Gulliver's wife.
In comparison with the land of tiny people, the next land Gulliver visits is a land of giants. These include a farmer [Ned Beatty] and a court jester [Warwick Davis]. While the tiny people's society exaggerated all the things Swift felt to be negative about his own world, the Giants live in a lovely, peaceful, agrarian society. Unbelievably so, in fact. His perfect world has no possible foundation, and the concepts espoused are full of contradictions. For example, the Queen states the economy consists of everyone sharing for free, but the farmer takes payment in gold! The book's original ideas, a simplified yet non-Socialist system, are at least much more workable.
The first part ends with Gulliver under observation in an asylum run by Robert Hardy [All Creatures Great And Small].
While the first half of the story deals with the problems of the political systems of the day, the second half deals with the more abstract problems in society. Omar Sharif [Doctor Zhivago] pops up as a necromancer, far more sinister than the character in the book.
Finally, we get a view of the perfect society. Whynnyms [horses] are the Eloi, while Yahoos [humans] are the lumpenproletariat.
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