Review Charlotte's Web (1973)

Discussion in 'Film: 1971 - 1980' started by filmfan95, Jul 9, 2018.

  1. filmfan95

    filmfan95 Member: Rank 3

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    Charlotte's Web is a 1973 American animated musical drama film produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions and Sagittarius Productions and based upon the 1952 children's book Charlotte's Web by E. B. White. The film, like the book, is about a pig named Wilbur who befriends an intelligent spider named Charlotte who saves him from being slaughtered. Released to theaters by Paramount Pictures, Charlotte's Web features a song score of music and lyrics written by the Sherman Brothers, who had previously written music for family films like Mary Poppins (1964), The Jungle Book (1967), and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968). It is the first of only three Hanna-Barbera features not to be based upon one of their famous television cartoons, Heidi's Song (1982) and Once Upon a Forest(1993) being the other two.

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    Charlotte's Web was recorded in 1972 and released on February 22, 1973, to moderate critical and commercial success. The film has developed a devoted following over the following years due to television and VHS; in 1994 it surprised the marketplace by becoming one of the best-selling titles of the year, 21 years after its first premiere. No other non-Disney musical animated film has enjoyed such a comeback in popularity, prompting a direct-to-video sequel, Charlotte's Web 2: Wilbur's Great Adventure, which Paramount released in the US on March 18, 2003 (Universal released it internationally), followed by a live-action film version of the original story, which was released on December 15, 2006.
     
  2. filmfan95

    filmfan95 Member: Rank 3

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    (My Review)

    My mom found this on VHS at a yard sale when I was really little, and went into the storage and dug out the copy of the book that she had when she was a kid, and we spent the next few weeks reading the book. Mom read my brother and I the first half of the book, and then showed us the first half of the movie, and then she read us the second half of the book and then we finished the movie. This was one of those movies that my brother and I would bring to all of our friends' and relatives' houses to watch, because we enjoyed it so much. I remember back when this actually was "The Movie" of Charlotte's Web, which has changed ever since the 2005 version came out, and now fans are pretty evenly split on which movie adaptation is the better of the two.

    Having re-watched this movie recently, it doesn't hold up very well, unfortunately. I was hoping that it would, because it was one of my favorites as a kid. But looking at it now as an adult, it is a very badly paced adaptation of the story. There are quite a few pointless songs, as well as a gosling friend for Wilbur (the pig) that serves no purpose other than the hold up the story. Wilbur also acts like a kid, but has an annoying adult voice actor, and his dialogue is very cringe-worthy.

    The film also suffers from using dialogue directly from the book even when it doesn't make sense in the context of the movie. The most blatant example is Charlotte saying she doesn't have the strength to climb down to the crate, even though she is climbing around just fine. Even as a kid I noticed this. Another offender is Wilbur's sobbing when he finds out he is fated to become a Christmas dinner. In the book, Wilbur has been living at the barn for many months, and is enjoying life there, when he first learns this. In the movie, he has only lived at the barn for a short time, hasn't even met Charlotte yet, and misses Fern (his previous owner). And yet the movie still keeps his dialogue about him not wanting to be killed because he will miss "his warm manure pile" and his life at the barn. In the context of the film, this is ridiculous because Wilbur clearly isn't enjoying his life in the barn, and it would have made more sense for Wilbur's sadness at missing Fern to become increased here, rather than for him to talk about missing the barn life. This is bad scripting decision.

    Also, if the Goose gives birth the goslings, where is her mate?

    It might sound like I hate this adaptation, but I don't. With the exception of Wilbur and that annoying little gosling, the rest of the voice cast is great, with the best probably being the late Debbie Reynolds as Charlotte. The film is also very cute, and Charlotte's death is appropriately a very memorable scene.

    This is a good movie, but looking at through a non-nostalgic lens, it really isn't going on my best movies of all time list.
     
  3. The Seeker

    The Seeker Member: Rank 5

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    Who was Templeton’s voice actor again? I loved that guy.
     
  4. filmfan95

    filmfan95 Member: Rank 3

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    Templeton was voiced by Paul Lynde, and I also think he did a really good job.
     

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