3 Worlds of Gulliver, The (Blu-ray) (1960)

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Released 5-Dec-2018

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Adventure Audio Commentary-Film historians Randall Cook, Courtney Joyner,Stephen Smith
Featurette-The Making of The 3 Worlds of Gulliver (7:32)
Featurette-The Harryhausen Chronicles (57:57)
Featurette-This is Dynamation (11:02)
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1960
Running Time 98:38
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Jack Sher
Studio
Distributor
ViaVision Starring Kerwin Matthews
June Thorburn
Jo Morrow
Lee Patterson
Basil Sydney
Sherri Alberoni
Gregoire Aslan
Charles Lloyd Pack
Case ?
RPI ? Music Bernard Herrmann


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 2.0
English Audio Commentary DTS HD Master Audio 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     England 1699: Lemuel Gulliver (Kerwin Matthews) is a poor doctor, struggling to make ends meet so that he can marry his fiancée Elizabeth (June Thorburn). Over Elizabeth’s opposition he signs on as a ship’s doctor on a trading voyage; Elizabeth stows away on board but in a storm Gulliver is swept overboard. He is washed up on the island of Lilliput where the people are only about 5 inches tall where he is discovered by Gwendolyn (Jo Morrow) and Reldresal (Lee Patterson). Gulliver is initially treated with hostility by the tiny people but he soon proves useful to the vain and petty Emperor (Basil Sydney). Indeed, the Lilliputians are at war with their equally tiny neighbours on the nearby island of Blefuscu and the Emperor demands that Gulliver massacre them; Gulliver instead steals the Blefuscidian fleet but the Emperor will not be appeased and orders Gulliver killed. Gulliver escapes in a boat with the help of Reldresal and Gwendolyn; after drifting a while he washes up on the shores of Brobdingnag.

     On Brobdingnag it is Gulliver who is tiny as the inhabitants are 60 feet tall. Gulliver is found by a young girl Glumdalchitch (Sherri Alberoni) and taken to the King (Gregoire Aslan). Gulliver discovers that Elizabeth is already there; the King has built them a tiny house and supplies food and clothing and appoints Glumdalchitch to look after them. Things look rosy, but Brobdingnag is a backward and ignorant place, favouring superstition over science and knowledge and Gulliver soon makes an enemy of the King’s alchemist Makovan (Charles Lloyd Pack); Gulliver and Elizabeth are to be executed but are saved, and set adrift, by Glumdalchitch, returning safely to England.

     The 3 Worlds of Gulliver is, of course, adapted from part of the satirical novel by Jonathan Swift that was first published in 1726. Many of the foibles and values of the society targeted by Swift almost three centuries ago, greed, pomposity, self-interest, selfishness, pettiness, ignorance, superstition, bickering over trifles and resort to violence rather than science or reason, are very pertinent in today’s societies which is probably why the story of Gulliver’s Travels continues to be known and appreciated today. This is one reason why The 3 Worlds of Gulliver, made in 1960, is worth watching; the greater reason, however, is the amazing special effects of Ray Harryhausen.

     It is clear that the popularity of Harryhausen’s earlier films for Columbia resulted in an improved budget for The 3 Worlds of Gulliver; the sets, costumes, number of extras and of course the special effects are wonderful. In The 3 Worlds of Gulliver Harryhausen used mainly travelling and static matte paintings, forced perspective, miniatures and live action to show the interaction between Gulliver and those around him, both tiny and huge. Some stop motion animation (“Dynamation”) is still present and one sequence in particular where Gulliver fights an animated crocodile while the massive Brobdingnagians look on, all within the frame, is fabulous. Indeed, given that this is an era before CGI, the special effects of The 3 Worlds of Gulliver still look wonderful and have a depth and reality that CGI just doesn’t match.

     In keeping with the tone of the film, the acting of pretty much all the cast is very broad indeed. Leading man Kerwin Matthews had had practice acting against nothing when he played Sinbad in Harryhausen’s The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) a couple of years earlier; he is a likeable and pleasant personality and as Gulliver helps to anchor The 3 Worlds of Gulliver into some sort of alternate “reality”. Another plus is the score by Bernard Herrmann. He had scored Citizen Kane (1941) and won his only Oscar that same year for All That Money Can Buy but is perhaps now best remembered for his scores for Hitchcock including Vertigo (1958), North By Northwest (1959) and Psycho (1960). For The 3 Worlds of Gulliver he provides a varied score that enhances the viewing experience.

     However, naturally, the principal attraction of The 3 Worlds of Gulliver is the wonderful special effects of Harryhausen, which are still impressive.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The 3 Worlds of Gulliver is presented in the 1.66:1 aspect ratio, in 1080p, MPEG-4 AVC.

     The 3 Worlds of Gulliver, shot on film, looks glorious. Colours are deep and vibrant, the blue skies and seas, yellow sands, the opulent sets and colourful costumes are all beautiful. Given the film’s combination of forced perspective, stop motion animation, matte paintings, miniatures and live action the detail, including backgrounds, is surprisingly strong with only some softness in occasional sequences. Blacks and shadow detail are great, skin tones, especially Gulliver in some sequences, on the tanned side, brightness and contrast consistent.

     There are some tiny small marks plus minor motion blur with movement. Some scenes against the sky are quite grainy but grain is generally controlled and looks pleasant.

     There are no subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
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Audio

     The audio is English DTS-HD MA 2.0 mono. The audio commentary is the same.

     Dialogue was clear and easy to understand, even Gulliver’s deep manipulated voice among the Lilliputians. Effects such as the storm at sea, the shooting of arrows, the snapping of the crocodile have a nice feel. The score by Bernard Herrmann, varied and playful, is delivered cleanly. There was obviously no surround or sub-woofer use.

     There was no hiss or pops.

     There were no lip synchronisation errors.

Audio Ratings Summary
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Surround Channel Use
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Extras

Audio Commentary

     This is a wonderful commentary by Randall Cook (who has three joint Oscars for the Lord of the Rings films), C Courtney Joyner and Stephen C Smith, author of a book on Bernard Hermann. They are great together and full of information as they talk non-stop about the score and the film’s songs, the genesis of the film, identify the cast and outline their careers, the director and cinematographer, how the effects were done, Swift and the source novel, anecdotes about the filming and Harryhausen, merchandising and a whole lot more. Great stuff.

The Making of The 3 Worlds of Gulliver (7:32)

     Ray Harryhausen, supported by film footage, black and white photographs and storyboards, speaks about the travelling matte and forced perspective photography used in The 3 Worlds of Gulliver, filming in Spain, the miniatures and storyboards. The final 2 minutes of this extra is a silent slideshow of promotional artwork, storyboards and black and white behind the scenes photographs.

The Harryhausen Chronicles (57:57)

     Narrated by Leonard Nimoy and made in 1997, this featurette is an extended interview with Harryhausen as he talks about his career and his craft accompanied by his drawings, some unreleased early stop motion animation and sequences from a number of his films. There are also comments about Harryhausen and his legacy from author and friend Ray Bradbury, producer Charles Schneer, director Henry Selick, Lucasfilm SFX supervisor Dennis Muren and George Lucas himself. This is a wonderful featurette and Ray Harryhausen is a delightful speaker, funny and self-deprecating. It has also been included on other DVD / BD releases, including Jason and the Argonauts and Mysterious Island, but if you have not seen this featurette (or even like me if you have seen it before) it is a must for anyone interested in special effects.

”This is Dynamation” Featurette (3:26)

     A look at the dynamation process and how it was done, showing examples from Harryhausen’s films. The same featurette has been included on other Harryhausen DVD / BD releases, such as Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Mysterious Island but is worth a look if you have not seen it.

Original Theatrical Trailer (3:22)

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The 3 Worlds of Gulliver has had releases with various extras and in various combinations; the US Region free version includes an isolated music score, for example. Included here in The Fantastic Films of Ray Harryhausen: Collection Two with two other films it looks good value.

Summary

     Swift’s satire on human foibles is still present in The 3 Worlds of Gulliver but the incidents are treated lightly and so The 3 Worlds of Gulliver becomes a rousing fantasy adventure with wondrous special effects. Indeed, it is a film in which almost every frame contains some sort of special effect or other, often more than one. It must have amazed viewers in 1960, and, even in these days of excessive CGI, it is still very impressive. And a heap of fun.

     The video and audio are very good, the extras good, although they have mostly already been available on other releases of Harryhausen films.

     The 3 Worlds of Gulliver is included in the 3 Blu-ray package from ViaVision The Fantastic Films of Ray Harryhausen: Collection Two which also includes It Came From Beneath the Sea (1955) and Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956), all with commentaries and other extras, a treat for fans of Harryhausen or classic adventure.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Friday, December 28, 2018
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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