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The Wind in the Willows [VHS]
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Product Description

If reading The Wind in the Willows as a child was, for you, an awakening to the near-mystical, make-believe wonders of the natural world, turning a cold shoulder on a video version of the Kenneth Grahame classic may seem to you a necessary measure to avoid memory muddling. Don't. This animated adaptation, gently narrated by Vanessa Redgrave, portrays Moley, Mr. Toad, and the rest of the riverbank battalion tastefully, wittily, and with charm by the bucketsful. True to the tale, these forest chaps are British, right down to their regal accents and suitable degrees of reserve. Lest you should conclude that such characteristics block the lecherous Toad from being a scoundrel or make Mole less of a lovable dimwit, though, the animals' adventures get under way lickety-split. Mole abandons his modest home in favor of an apprenticeship on the ways of the river alongside knowledgeable Rat and, in the movie's sole scary scene, winds up lost in the wild woods; Toad's enthusiasm for motorcars earns him a 20-year sentence and the insult of having to masquerade as a washer woman; and young Portly the otter goes missing, giving everyone a scare. Separating this cartoon caper from the herd is, of course, the writing--"nature kicks off its clothes" as part of the river's "wintertime poetry," and chums are richly celebrated; "In the company of friends," our narrator memorably intones, quoting Grahame, "even the most frugal of feasts is a banquet." Recommended for kids, and grown-ups, 3 and up. --Tammy La Gorce

Customer Reviews:

  • Dissapointed
    I thought by the description that this would have the illustrations from the 30's that I remember from my youth... It has no illustrations except on the cover... so it goes... ...more info
  • joyful
    "The Wind in the Willows" reminds me a lot of the television series "Mr. Roger's Neighborhood." I make this connection because in the face of a great deal of children's entertainment that is fast-paced, zany, and explosive, it is gentle and slow, and speaks honestly to children without diluting its messages any. In many of these reviews, readers have expressed their affection for loyal mole, brave rat, etc. I agree, but to me the really cool thing is how all of these characters are actually very complex and very real, yet loveable all the same. Loyal old mole is also rather pompous and unheeding. Courageous rat is often brusque and self-centered. Brave Badger is sometimes unkind, and by the same token vain, petty, wasteful Toad is also loyal to his friends and generous- to a fault- with his things. All the characters have unexpressed longings- Rat, great lover of the river-bank, fights a conflicting desire to travel and see more things. Mole, wholeheartedly embracing his new life, also secretly longs for his old one. Badger secretly loves company. What makes the characters so compelling is how fundamentally decent, loyal, and kind they are to each other, and that's the best lesson any child can get out of this fine story. As a teacher I see the results of kids who haven't learned this lesson in my classroom day after day. I had this book read to me as a child and loved it and it has an honored place on my shelf now, where I reread it at least once every two or three years, when the modern world gets to be too much for me!...more info
  • The Badger takes the Parade
    `Straighten up, everybody,' commanded the Badger in his best parade ground voice. 'We must all give a good impression to the reviewer. This means you too, Ratty.'
    'Why yes badger,' cried Ratty, hastily stuffing his tea cake under the picnic table. 'Best behaviour, what?'
    'Where is Mole?' continued the Badger, glancing sternly at the cake crumbs clinging stubbornly to the Rat's whiskers.
    The Mole broke surface directly beneath the picnic table, almost scattering the Rat's carefully laid out treats to the four winds. Clambering out from under, he turned towards the stern Badger.
    'Here I am, sir,' squeaked the Mole anxiously.' I do hope I am not late?'
    'Of course not, Moley, Just in time, what?' Laughed the Rat as he straightened his table. It would not do to leave good, picnic food unstraightened. It would only, he knew, attract the Weasels. Or even a stoat or two.
    'When you have quite finished,' announced the Badger, striving to maintain the dignity of the occasion, 'I would like you to impress upon the good people reading this that Mr Grahame's novel, which is all about us, I hasten to remind you, is the finest tale of riverside life ever written by human or animal. I want you to impress upon anyone who asks that this is a cheery-up of a book, a time to relax of a book, a best reward of a book, to warm the hearts of all.' The Badger unshipped a particularly stern glare. 'Do I make myself clear?'
    'Why of course, Badger, 'replied the Rat while doffing his boater at a pair of passing rabbits and their giggling brood, 'Wind in the Willows is the finest book of its kind. I would advise folk everywhere,' he smiled at the rabbits, 'to read it to their children for double the pleasure.'
    'Yes quite', the Badger harrumphed.
    'Now, on the next item on the agenda. Where, oh where, is that wasteful extravagant miscreant, you know who?'
    Crash! With an explosion of knives, forks, cupcakes, bread and honey, and cheese, the picnic table evaporated into the ether. The animals scattered, the Rat losing his boater in the proceedings.
    When the dust settled, all was revealed. The remains of a once-fine motorcar sat right in the middle of what had once been a picnic. Upside down, stuck helplessly in the bough of an oak, waved the tweed-clad legs of one who, even upside down, could not be mistook for a upright citizen. From inside the strong oak there came a muffled, yet unmistakable cry.
    'Poop poop!'...more info
  • Gets better with age...
    I never read the book as a child, and vaguely recall seeing an animated version many moons ago. A couple years ago I decided to pick up a copy. I read it twice in a about a year, and recently I had the urge to read it a third time. It gets better and better.
    To adults I would tell them not to shun the book because it is a "children's book." As C.S. Lewis wrote, "I am almost inclined to set it as a canon that any book that can only be enjoyed by children is a bad book. The good ones last." However, it is not a book that can be skimmed like most modern literature. Grahame paints exceedingly vivid pictures with his prose, so you have to slow down and digest the text to absorb the word pictures fully. I concur with other reviewers about the chapter "Piper at the Gates of Dawn."
    My only quibble is that I tend to think rather logically, and to my mind the animal world and human world don't really "mesh" well. But, this is a fantasy, so you just need to suspend your disbelief and enjoy the ride.
    One thing I took away from my third reading of the book is that it is a window (perhaps an idealized window) into a world that is gone forever. In the 21st century West, the automobile is an often indispensable part of modern life. In Grahame's day, the automobile was largely a rich man's toy and it is portrayed in the book as a noisy nuisance which upset the order of things (I recall reading once a letter to the editor written in that period suggesting that automobiles were unsafe and should be banned). Of course, the march of technology (and the Great War) would draw the curtain on that era for good....more info
  • The Wind in the Willows
    okay. to start off, i'm going to be honest with all of you. i did not read the book in its entirity. i was helping my 11 year old sister read it for summer homework. i read a number of chapters, most of which consisted of dialogue between a mole and a water rat. i have always loved reading, and have never read something i could say was just plain boring...until i read this book. it may contain some important "life messages" or other such deep meanings embedded in the story, but frankly, i find it hard to read far enough into the book to identify them before being bored to death. ...more info
  • DVD Wind in the Willow/The Willows in Winter
    This has to be my all time favorite DVD far better than other productions of this I have viewed. Absolutely delightful to watch for people of all ages - it's a keeper that you can watch over and again!...more info
  • A primer on friendship
    The Wind in the Willows is a delightful children's classic that touches upon many things; wonder, pastoralism, but most of all friendship between individuals very different from one another. One of the hallmarks of this classic is that the adventure stories remain entertaining to this day. A must read for any child....more info
  • Terrible.
    While the story is beautiful, the book itself arrived in horrible condition. it was described as "new" and was NOT- there was no dust cover, it was visibly dirty, and obviously used. No receipt came with the order, to top it off. Very dissatisfied. ...more info
  • Goodtimes Video Savages a Beautifully Animated Tale
    If the people of Goodtimes Video Distribution didn't destroy this awesomely animated series with their ghastly editing, this version of Wind of the Willows easily earns 5 stars. A lot of the original British production has been shabbily cut to make 3 "complete cartoons." Inexplicably two of these mangled vignettes actually repeat Toad's car stealing & escape. There is no reason for this bungling. It would have been so much easier just to package & distribute the John Coates/Dave Unwin series in it's original format. This beautiful animated version of Wind of the Willows deserves a better distributor. For shame, Goodtimes!...more info
  • Not a children's book
    Why do people keep recommending this book for young children? The language and symbolism in this book are far too advanced for children under 13 (and possibly even older)! I tried reading it to my kids (ages 8 & 5) and I couldn't get past the first page without them grumbling and complaining.

    Here is one example sentence from the first page: "Something up above was calling him imperiously, and he made for the steep little tunnel which answered in his case to the gravelled carriage-drive owned by animals whose residences are nearer to the sun and air."

    It is indeed beautiful writing, but way above the heads of children....more info
  • Nice adaptation
    I watched this as an adult, so I can't speak for how kids will encounter it. Thoughts:
    - One thing that distracted me during the movie was the pacing of the plot. It's impressive that they crammed the book into 90 or so minutes, but as a result some parts seem hurried. Maybe that keeps kids' interest better.
    - One thing the cartoon did well was giving the animal characters stereotypical mannerisms of post-Victorian British gentry (bachelors, to be specific). These aren't "National Geographic" animals--these are British "good old boys". That adds to the charm & makes the characterizations really come alive. That's why this story will be considered a classic for a long time.
    - Finally, Toad is so over the top (wacky) that it's almost hard to take sometimes. How long do we have to see him despairing in his prison cell for his daft & reckless behavior? There are definite similarities of tone with, say, Wodehouse's "Wooster & Jeeves" in these parts, but wackier, if that can be believed....more info
  • Excellent Movie
    If you've never followed the adventures of a rat, a mole, a badger, or a toad ... well, here is your chance.

    This animated movie (that has an un-animated beginning and end) is a delightful mixture of fun, friendship, adventure, and irreverence. The irreverence is provided courtesy of Mr. Toad.

    The animation here is excellent, and a good deal of imagination was used in writing the story ... all very much fun ... which follows the lives of the animals living along or near "the river".

    This movie is an adaptation of a book, of the same title, that was first published in 1908. Kenneth Grahame is the author, and a wonderful man he must have been. The movie makers do an excellent job of picking and choosing (from the book) what to use ... and a slight re-arranging and modifying of dialog and circumstances ... is again ... high quality work of the very competent movie makers.

    The actors who provide the voices for the animals do a superb job of bringing these creatures to life. I think we tend to take these good characterizations for granted, but these fellows here are truly outstanding at giving these animals unique and believable personalities.

    My favorite character is the rat ("Rattie") but one cannot help but love Mr. Toad.

    But this is a fun movie from beginning to end.
    ...more info