This movie flopped badly when it was first released back in 1967. Perhaps the world - at that time embroiled in the Vietnam War and the hippy movement - had moved on from such overlong kiddie musicals.
Looking at it 42 years later, and its a glorious example of fantasy film making. I don't have any children to buy DVD's for, so I buy them for myself. I loved this as a child, I adored the old vinyl soundtrack my parents bought us after we'd seen it, and now I adore the DVD.
Forget what the real world was like in 1845, when this movie is set. Forget how the real world works, in animal biology and human relationships. Just watch this film with a clear mind, and love it for what it is; a film made up of 3 hours or so of pure joy. The songs are wonderful Leslie Bricusse 1960's tunes, that ooze melody. The acting, esp from Rex Harrison is top-notch, and the screenplay, also by Leslie Bricusse, is very clever, mature writing for fantasy-loving adults. Listen carefully to some of Rex Harrison's lines, and you'll see just how intelligent the writing is. (One great example is the word-duel between Dolittle and Emma, just before the song 'The Crossroads of Life'. Fantastic writing!)
So, if you're an adult who loves the Fantasy genre, this is something you will thoroughly enjoy. Forget the kids, let them play with their Playstations. They'll be bored out of their brains within 10 minutes of the opening credits finishing. Put this DVD on when they're in bed, sit down with a nice glass of red wine, and let it take you back to your childhood 40-odd years ago. When I watched it the day I bought this DVD, I watched the entire film through tear-filled eyes. I was a 7 year old boy again, back in 1968, completely entranced by this gorgeously produced epic. I'd forgotten how treasured this film is to me.
The world has finally caught up with this classic film, and perhaps we can now appreciate it for what it is - pure Fantasy for nostalgic adults.