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Thursday, 9 August 2007

Film Night: Escape To Witch Mountain (1975)

Before Star Wars became such a large part of my childhood, there had been another film which my impressionable nine-year-old mind had been fixated with: Disney's Escape To Witch Mountain.

Watching it for the first time in over 25 years I was impressed how the majority of the effects stood the test of time - except for the climatic "flying RV" and helicopter sequence, which was on a par with Doctor Who effects of that era!

Nevertheless the dancing toys scene remains - like the animated suits of armour fighting the Nazi invaders at the end of Bedknobs and Broomsticks - permanently etched into my psyche as a spectacular, inspirational image.

Unfortunately Rachel, who lists "child actors" as one of her major pet peeves, found the story increasingly "unbelievable" as the "extraterrestrial" origins of the runaway, psychic childrens' powers unfolded, but I thought the story was as entertaining as I did when I was a child, even if the final effects were as poor as I remembered.

Of course, those were more innocent times, when no one thought twice (particularly in Disney films) about a lonely, old man befriending two young children and helping them run away from other strange, old men in his camper van! Which might explain why this great little story hasn't been reinvented for the 21st Century - with modern special effects.

In retrospect I can see how this tale of two 'gifted' children almost certainly contributed to my fascination in later life with all things paranormal and people with 'special abilities' - from the X-Files and Buffy The Vampire Slayer to Heroes, The Dresden Files and The 4400. But at the time it was simply magical - I'd never seen anything like it and was instantly drawn into this exciting world of infinite possibilities.

I will also confess that the nine-year-old Flea also had a bit of a soft spot for Tia (Kim Richards, who I now discover is Paris Hilton's aunt!), but it was the telekinesis, telepathy, distance viewing, animal empathy and other incredible powers of Tony and Tia that made this film so special to me. Little did I realise that it would shape my viewing (and reading) tastes for the rest of my life.

Next week: Moulin Rouge.

3 comments:

  1. Despite the children who, with their limited acting skills, manage to ruin so many films for me, this one wasn't too bad. It just wasn't what I was expecting. For 90% of the film they are just children with magical powers and then all of a sudden we discover they are actually aliens and they fly off in their spaceship - it's just bizarre!

    ReplyDelete
  2. And that's why I didn't let you see the DVD cover ... the big UFO there might have given away that particular twist :-)

    Bizarre is good ... wait until we sit down and watch Dark City!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I really love this film, I remember seeing it when I was a kid and I just fell in love with it.

    Disney used to make so many good family films and I think it's a shame they don't do many like this any more.

    ReplyDelete

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