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The Borrowers (5-Dec-1997)

Director: Peter Hewitt

Writers: John Kamps; Gavin Scott

From juvenile novels by: Mary Norton

Keywords: Juvenile

NameOccupationBirthDeathKnown for
Jim Broadbent
24-May-1949   Oscar-winning oddball English actor
Tom Felton
22-Sep-1987   Draco Malfoy in Harry Potter films
John Goodman
20-Jun-1952   King Ralph
Celia Imrie
15-Jul-1952   Gloria Millington on Kingdom
Hugh Laurie
11-Jun-1959   Jeeves and Wooster, House
Mark Williams
1959   The Borrowers
Alex Winter
17-Jul-1965   Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure


Review by anonymous (posted on 14-Apr-2005)

If, in the distant future, our descendants knew we ate something called apple pie, but only had a list of ingredients but no recipe, would they come up with the same dish? This is the best way I can describe the way this film has been put together: it's as if the makers knew the details of the original Borrowers stories but not the plot, so, using the fascinating idea that there might be a race of little thieving people living under the floorboards and in the walls (which would explain, you must admit, where all those missing pens, socks, scissors etc. go!) they have come up with a wholly original story, and, speaking as a lover of the original books, it really works. It's a cracking adventure for children of all ages, with plenty of pace and adventure, a great villain, as well as a moral ending which is not too wet and wholesome. The cast is a very strong one: John Goodman is a great egocentric, totally selfish baddie, Mark Williams is the nice dimwit, and Hugh Laurie is excellent as an eccentric policeman. And eccentric is the word for the whole atmosphere created in the film's imagined world in which human 'beans' and borrowers live side by side. It's a world which seems to resemble 1950's Britain, except half the characters are American, half British. All the cars are Morris Minors/Travellers (even the stretch limos!), a car quintessential to this period in Britain, but although they are right-hand drive, everybody strangely drives on the right, as in the U.S. And then, Ocious P. Potter, the crooked lawyer, produces a mobile phone from his pocket, so wait a minute, this can't be the 1950's, can it..? There is also something slightly sinister in the glimpse we get of the society depicted. Although Hugh Laurie's police officer is friendly to the point of providing soothing cream for Potter's facial burns (you'll have to watch the film to find out how he gets them, one of the movie's very funny moments) he is dressed in a military style, knee high boots, cape etc. and turns quite nasty in the final scene over the closing credits. One notable feature of the film I can't explain, unless it is to emphasise this strangeness, is the very orange tint used throughout, and I have observed bthe same colouring in the cinema, on TV and video - ot is so pronounced it could be seen as quite irritating, although it does create a strong and unique visual memory of the film. Its surreal quality is the film's strongest feature. This defies a complete rationalisation of its plot, and I like this a lot. So many films, especially American ones, have plots which are totally worked out and tied up, and I think its really good for us to see a story which of course, is not serious, but remains at the same time untamed. There is more satisfaction in puzzlement than smugness. Having said all that, have I misunderstood? Is the surrealism meant to depict the way Americans imagine Britain to be? Is there some irony here? I'd love to hear from the makers, especially about that orange tone they have used.

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