01/03/2012. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
Region 2 DVD: pub: BBC BBCDVD 1439. 171 minutes 6 * 26 minute episodes. Price: GBP 4.99 (UK) if you really know where to look) cast: Ian Holm, Penelope Wilton and Rebecca Callard.
check out website: www.dvdsource.co.uk/dvd_13635078
A couple years ago, I was puzzled why the collected twin BBC series of the 1992 ‘The Borrowers’ on DVD appeared to be costing the earth. Series Two seemed relatively easy to get and cheap. Getting Series One looked problematic but in the interests of the website and spotting that several Internet shops were offering it at a reasonable price, I went on the hunt. You do things like that in this business when you like and want something. Those that had it for sale, including some of the major UK DVD selling websites, ultimately replied that they couldn’t get it. I suspect they also source the same warehouse resource so they aren’t entirely responsible for double-checking until someone like muggins here asks them for something. One thing that I am is persistent and finally, after a few weeks, www.DVDSource.co.uk came up with a copy, hence it’s in my ‘check out website’ line above to try first. How many copies can they access I have no idea but if you want to get a copy, don’t leave it too long, OK?
After the BBC’s excursion into Narnia, they turned their heads to Mary Norton’s ‘The Borrowers’ series and being faithful to the first self-named book and its first sequel, ‘The Borrowers Afield’ created the definitive version which the films and recent BBC version has not come close to in their desire to make it more contemporary. Even more remarkable, after twenty years, the special effects still hold up and you will believe there are tiny people who ‘borrow’ off human beans.
Pod (actor Ian Holm), his wife Homily (actress Penelope Wilton) and their daughter, Arrietty (actress Rebecca Callard), live under the old grandfather clock in a big old house and hence their surname being Clock. Things are going fine until Pod is seen by George (actor Paul Cross), a new boy to the house, who seems oddly benevolent. When Arrietty finally meets George, without knowing her father had encountered him, there develops a friendship which ultimately reached Pod and Homily. Saying that, they were a bit distressed when he lifted the floorboards to personally deliver some furniture. Things took a turn for the worse when they were discovered by Mrs. Driver (actress Siân Philips) who orders the local rat-catcher tinker, Mildeye (actor Tony Haygarth), to gas them out. With the help of George, the Clock family escape into the fields, hopefully to seek out relatives down a badger’s sett but bump into Spiller (actor Daniel Newman), a wild Borrower who helps them out. The shoe they live gets picked up by the tinker and Spiller gets George to help rescue them.
To say this six part series is a delight is a time to be humble. It is beautifully enacted and made. Richard Carpenter adaptation really shows how to do the story perfectly. The character interplay carried out by a perfect cast. It’s just how you would see it if you read the book. Howard Goodall’s music is quirky and off-beat and instantly memorable. It’s a shame this has never been released on CD.
The extras are basically a photo gallery and a multi-part quiz of twenty-five questions divided into five parts. What is more significant is an eight minute ‘Blue Peter’ feature where one of its presenters goes on location in the field and interviews the cast, key production and the props department.
Get it while you can. One can only hope that the BBC do a re-issue. A glorious classic.
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