When I was a kid, I had an album, on the Music for Pleasure label, of the soundtrack to this film. And I played it to death, loving every little cadence and intonation. I also dimly remember watching the film as a young child, and being entranced by it. So, after more than 30 years of wanting to see it again, the disc pops through my letter box and I settle down to watch it, hoping that the years have been kind and my nostalgia is not unduly rose tinted.
I needn't have worried: it's even better than I remember. First off are the extras, which, though not extensive, are beautifully judged. Mark Kermode's tribute to the film itself almost exactly echoes my own feelings. And then, we also get the movie with its original French audio track. I'd always known that part of the joke in France was that Pollux (Dougal) spoke French with a heavy English accent, but to actually hear it for the first time properly is a riot and demonstrates that Danot wasn't without humour himself. The other short is a brief recap of Eric Thompson's career and how the Magic Roundabout came to be such a big part of it. All lovely stuff.
As for the film, it's pretty much pitch perfect. Seventy nine minutes of beautifully bright and vivid visuals combined with a gorgeously dry Eric Thompson voice track. And the songs are fabulous too, from the rather dreamy ditty Florence sings early on, through the achingly sad dungeon scene to Buxton's triumphal I am King. What really impresses is the layering of whimsy and darkness, giving children and adults something substantial to laugh at, cry at and otherwise enjoy. And then there's Fenella Fielding, the only other voice aside from Thompson's in the whole of his time doing it. The Blue Voice is silky, seductive and hypnotic, a sublime touch of velvet evil.
In all, it's easily worth the asking price: a little masterpiece of visual and oral pleasure that will enchant kids of all ages, maybe for the first time or all over again.