Gulliver's Travels | Original Movie (1939)
In December 1937, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs became the first feature-length animated film to open in theaters. Almost exactly two years later came the second, Gulliver's Travels (1939). But in contrast to the Walt Disney classic, this new film was the work of pioneering animators Max and Dave Fleischer, whose innovative company had been responsible for Betty Boop and Popeye, among other iconic cartoon characters of the 1920s and '30s. In fact, this movie was originally planned as a vehicle for Popeye to "play" Gulliver.
Gulliver's Travels is based on just the first part of Jonathan Swift's classic novel, a section entitled "A Voyage to Lilliput," in which Gulliver washes ashore in a kingdom whose inhabitants are so small that Gulliver appears as a giant. Swift's tale was written as a sociological satire, and the Fleischer brothers disagreed at first over how much of that flavor would inhabit their screen version. Max Fleischer envisioned retaining the strong satirical themes, while Dave Fleischer wanted something lighter, simpler and more musical. In the end they compromised on a colorful spectacle that nonetheless does preserve some satire. In any event, the look and feel of the animation was distinctly theirs. As the Motion Picture Herald's review said, "The Fleischer style, well known for many years to a great public, is readily identifiable. The usual grotesqueness is present in all of the characters, with the exception of the Giant and the Prince and Princess. One might expect Popeye to peek around the corner at any moment."
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