One of the absorbing things about the Xmas holidays is the great selection of family films to see on the TV. Of course we’ve seen many of them lots of times before and a lot of them are so painful I’d rather not see them again. I avoided ‘The Holiday’ the other evening thank God but it’s set to be on again on New Year’s Day and definitely on C and R’s viewing schedule. I suppose I could get lucky and catch the novovirus.
But it’s not all grim. I have to admit I got all engrossed in the movie Zulu yesterday. I must have seen it a dozen times but it’s ages since I saw it all the way through and, if you ignore all the Welsh boyo stuff (like Ivor Emmanuel singing Men of Harlech whilst being attacked by 4000 warriors with assegai) it’s really quite a good historic drama. I especially enjoyed re-seeing a young Michael Caine playing the toff officer Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead (whose name would make a great anagram).
For my sins though I was obliged to watch Carrie and the girls last night as I mentioned in the previous blog. I thought I might have escaped any further torture but bugger me what should be on tonight but Love Actually. Actually I only loathe half the film’s characters – the bereaved father’s precocious son, the Laura Linney character, all that unrequited love for Keira Knightley and that stuff between the Prime Minister and his tea maid was just too damn unbelievable. Sorry girls but hey the other stuff really isn’t too bad.
But film-wise I’ve been struck by two movies these last few days. The first I haven’t seen since I was 8. Released in 1960 I was enraptured as a boy by the Disney movie Swiss Family Robinson which I must have seen a 4 or 5 times at my local Rialto cinema. It tells the tale of a family who, en route to a new life in New Guinea, become shipwrecked on a deserted but idyllic island somewhere in the East Indies where they live in amazing tree huts and fend off pirates and have all sorts of adventures. It’s absolutely ridiculous of course but it was great escapism for a young lad fed up with watching Blackpool lose and the incessant winter rain. And I’d stumbled over it again after all these years on one of the TV channels. Of course I watched it all the way through and whilst it was charmingly out-dated it still made me smile. But as I watched the film I slowly recalled an uneasy feeling I had all those years ago. It was nothing to do with the unlikely plot (perhaps Richard Curtis was influenced by the film too…?) but the rather odd cast of animals that inhabited this exotic Pacific island. You might get a clue from this album cover for the film’s soundtrack:
Ostriches, elephants and monkies? Then there were the zebra and the tigers (that the youngest boy trapped and hid in pits to scare the pirates – I know, I know). Plus an anaconda. It’s this Disneyesque vision of the world that’s just so eclectic and weird. A Pacific island that happily contains animals exclusively found in Africa and India and S America. I can’t believe the Disney organisation have ever employed somebody to do validation or background checks for accuracy purposes.
Their views of England are always so chocolate box and completely off the mark that it’s laughable. Who can ever forget Dick van Dyke’s attempt at a cockerney chim chim cheree accent? And only yesterday I watched a little of the re-make of ‘101 Dalmations’ starring Glenn Close, the one where a clutch of this country’s indigenous animals join forces to help the pups to be reunited with doggy parents Pongo and Purdy. Well I watched it until I became hysterical at being expected to buy into Disney’s catalogue of animals native to this country; shire horses and olde English sheepdogs were fine but racoons? I can’t believe that Hugh Lawrie, educated Eton and Cambridge, who played one of the baddies and who encountered the rodents, didn’t point out to the film crew that we don’t have these critters running wild in Oxfordshire. Nor skunks, one of which clambered into Cruella’s car in a later scene.
So Dear Disney this is an open letter saying that I’m very happy to put myself forward as your all-things-English correspondent. You need the role filling – desperately. Because authenticity-wise you look like bloody imbeciles from this side of the pond guys. And I’ll happily do it for a 6 figure sum (£ not $!).