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“Children need a little order in their lives, especially if they can order it themselves.”
I’d like to start off by pointing out a mistake which should have been fairly obvious from my last review. When I said that the only two Disney movies that haven’t gotten a blu-ray release yet were the remaining package features, I was wrong – The Black Cauldron has yet to be released on that format. This is something I should know both as a Disney fan and for the fact that it’s On The Shelf for future voting (it might even be perfect review fodder for Halloween…)
Anyway, on to this month’s review.
Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Ephraim’s Daughter Longstocking, or Pippi Longstocking for short, was one of my childhood idols, something I never quite realized until I rediscovered the film that introduced me to her in the first place. Pippi lived a Peter Pan-esque life completely independent from grownup rule and schooling; she called the shots in her own house, but had a firm grip on average adult responsibilities – which she was able to approach and complete as if they were games – and little to want for thanks to a sizable fortune she happily shared with those in need, not to mention she knew how to run circles around stuffy useless old farts with her playful, seemingly simple wit.
Basically, she’s everything I wanted to be as a kid AND as an adult.
And who do we have to thank for bringing this character to life? That would be none other than Sweden’s own Astrid Lindgren.
Lindgren is revered in her homeland for perfectly capturing a child’s point of view in her stories; you’ll find no wishy-washy protagonists or condescending for the kiddies in them. Her female main characters in particular are fierce, free, and adventurous, though they keep a genuine loving heart beating within them. That’s probably why I was drawn to Pippi so much after finding her. Though it’s been years since I’ve picked up the Pippi Longstocking books, I recall them being among my childhood favorites. They’ve been adapted multiple times for television, film, and even stage, yet as of writing there’s only been one full-length animated version, the one we’ll be looking at today from Canada’s primarily television (but sometimes film) animation studio, Nelvana. This wasn’t the first time Pippi was courted for an animated retelling, however. Hayao Miyazaki approached Lindgren for one back when Studio Ghibli was just getting off the ground, even going so far as to draw an entire sketch book’s worth of preliminary designs and storyboards, but she turned him down because…
You know what? She’s got no excuse. As satisfied as I am with the one we got, you really dropped the ball, Lindgren. Just think about it. HAYAO MIYAZAKI’S PIPPI LONGSTOCKING. Something simple yet beautifully animated and whimsical that could have stood on the shelf between Kiki’s Delivery Service and Whisper of the Heart. Seriously, look up the drawings he did. You’ll be wondering why he got left holding the bag too.
So without further adieu, let’s sail right into Nelvana’s Pippi Longstocking and see how it holds up.