Pippi Långstrump (Pippi Longstocking) (1969)
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Audience Reviews for Pippi Långstrump (Pippi Longstocking)
Why Are Children's Book Adaptations Worse? I have seen many, many adaptations of books over the years. Books, plays, TV shows, Broadway musicals, comic books, radio shows--a ton of adaptations. Few of them are great. More but not many are good. An astonishing number are beyond bad, all the way to awful, and it seems to me that the worst offenders tend to be adaptations of children's books. I don't know why this is. I'm certainly not saying that all awful adaptations are of children's books; get me started on [i]Apt Pupil[/i] some time. However, I think there are fewer decent adaptations of children's books than anything else. This isn't even overbalanced by the few truly excellent ones. For every [i]Beauty and the Beast[/i], there are dozens more like, well, this. It's not just that it's a bad movie, though it assuredly is for reasons we'll get into later. It's also that it's a bad adaptation. One day, Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Ephraim's Daughter Longstocking (Inger Nillson) moves into a house she calls Villa Villekulla in a small, unnamed town in Sweden. Her neighbours include a brother and sister, Tommy (Pär Sundberg) and Annika (Maria Persson). They are just about Pippi's age, and they become enchanted by her pretty much immediately. She is the world's strongest girl. She lives alone, however she pleases, with her horse and her monkey. And her suitcase full of gold. She wins the love of the children, in part because she buys them candy and toys and in part because she doesn't have to listen to what any adults say. Her house is painted all sorts of garish colours because they're the colours she likes. Her mother is an angel in Heaven, she says, and her father is the king of a cannibal island. A local woman, Fröken Prysselius (Margot Trooger), tries to get her put in a children's home, but Pippi says that she is a child living in her home, so it is a children's home. Tommy and Annika are not exactly the best-drawn characters in the books, but they're essentially ciphers in this movie. And, indeed, the things most carefully described about Annika are ignored here; she has short hair and wears pants, and book-Annika is almost obsessively ladylike. Similarly, book-Pippi is genuinely good-hearted and is always rather ashamed of herself when she shows a lack of manners. However, how could she have learned better? It's true that she does consider some manners more trouble than they're worth, but she does still try very hard to be good. The Pippi in the movie doesn't notice being corrected, and if she did, I'm not sure how much she'd worry about it. She tromps gaily through the story, sublimely unconcerned about the feelings of much of anyone else until the plot insists on it at the very end. She doesn't show much emotion at all, really. And it's certainly true that few of the children seem to love her for herself; that suitcase of gold is more important. Though Pippi does rather seem like a demonstration of why children shouldn't be allowed to handle money. She buys dozens of pounds of candy and toys for all the children of town. She never seems concerned about things like exchange rates or change; she just hands people gold coins and takes what she wants. Because it all happens in such rapid succession in the movie, it's a lot more noticeable than it is in the book. Though I have to say, even as a child, I thought Pippi demonstrated pretty clearly why children weren't allowed to just do whatever they liked. Obviously, [i]I[/i] would never be so foolish as she--for one thing, I could read, and she only barely could--but I was well aware that a lot of other kids were. Tommy and Annika like the idea of living like Pippi, for one, even though they also love their parents very much and don't want to lose them. Heck, Pippi wouldn't be able to count her change if she ever got any; that gold shouldn't last her a year. Okay, these effects were for a TV show in the '60s, but that's not completely an excuse. It's why Pippi doesn't wear her traditional blue dress, of course; there were too many bluescreen effects, and her dress would have disappeared when they were doing them, leaving Pippi with no torso. The problem, however, is that they were bad bluescreen effects. I'm pretty sure they did better on [i]Bewitched[/i] and [i]I Dream of Jeannie[/i], not that I've seen either in a very long time. Thought that was, after all, Hollywood. There's a moment where Pippi is showing off her impressive strength by lifting up her horse, and I'm pretty sure that the horse is a different size in that shot than anywhere else in the picture. Regardless, it's quite obvious every time there's an effect, because they're never any good. The colours are garish. The costumes are extremely dated. It's not a period piece, which would have been acceptable. It's just that no one seems to care that times change.
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