on 27 October 2010
I am so pleased this is FINALLY getting a release on DVD. It is a lost treasure.I grew up listening to the soundtrack on record and - I kid you not - at certain points I was terrified!! Namely, when Dougal wakes in the middle of the night and hears Finella Fielding's creepy voice and a cat's wailing; also, when Buxton (the blue cat) appears for the first time in the magic garden, accompanied by a musically melodramatic, "Taaahhhh-DAAAAAAHHHHH!".
But I loved being scared! I was hooked...
Today, aged 37, I love it all the more. As with the TV series, Eric Thompson imbues the dialogue with a hugely enjoyable British sensibility, attached to some rather bizarre (and psychedelic) visuals. The music is beautifully French and quite poignant (especially the song which Florence sings, about whether she and the others will ever see the sun again). My favourite scene has to be the one where Dougal is trapped in a room full of sugar (his favourite treat) but he's not allowed to eat any. How he wrestles with his natural instincts!
I'm just not sure what kids will make of it today, 40 years on. They may be confused by some of the old-fashioned references, and young children may even be a little too freaked out by it all. Still, this is a long-lost gem - so everyone should buy it! Especially children aged 37.
on 26 September 2010
Writing this before the film is released on DVD, but as I saw this when it first came out, I'd like to say buy it, but watch it yourself before you show your kids. For those of us raised on the reassuring exploits of Dougal and his chums in the magic garden before the BBC news, this film ought to have been a jolly romp. Oh no. Grim and psychedelic, it takes that familiar Roundabout crew and subverts all that you remember. Yes Dougal is the hero of the tale, but I guarantee that you will remember Buxton the megalomaniac blue cat and his guiding 'blue voice' (how exactly a voice can be blue is a moot point, but as the voice in question belongs to the inestimable national treasure that is Fenella Fielding, who cares?)There is a relentlessness to this story that really, really gets to you. 'Blue is beautiful, blue is best' are words that can still chill me to the core after nearly forty years. And Buxton? Well I've never felt happy going to Derbyshire and that cursed blue cat is the reason. Seriously, if you find Professor Yaffle and his mice friends creepy in Bagpuss, or worry about the bizarre post-apocalyptic world where the child Emily is running her own antique shop, DO NOT watch this film. If however Ludwig was plain sailing for you then watch this. But please be warned, if they were to make a sequel to this today, it would probably match the freaky horror of The Clangers with the teatime reassurance of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I may have got those slightly confused. Having said all that, I am going to order a copy. I just won't watch it alone, or without an awful lot of alcohol...
You're almost bound to have fond childhood memories of the Magic Roundabout if you're reading this. It was always a bit surreal, but this is just downright weird. Very, very good, very funny in places, but weird... Unlike Mark Kermode, who appears on the extras, I was a little too young to have been taken to see this at the cinema when it was released. In fact, until, in a fit of nostalgia, I had a look to see if there was a complete release of The Magic Roundabout on DVD (there isn't, alas), I didn't even know it existed!
As with all TMR, the script was written from scratch by Eric Thompson who did all the regular voices; in this feature film, an outsider is introduced for the only time, Fenella Fielding doing a wonderful job of the Blue Voice. It's a little different from the 5 minute episodes & rather slower to develop, as you might expect. It's nevertheless very enjoyable, even if you're in your 40's with no kids to enjoy it with! There are a couple of scenes, notably the first sight of the Dream Room, that very young children might find unsettling, but nothing really scary. It's all just very strange...
In the extras, you have 10 minutes of fairly pointless waffle from the afore-mentioned film critic, Mr Kermode. Of far more interest is the interview with the Thompsons; Phyllida Law his wife, and Emma (yes *that* Emma T!), his daughter; plus a little from Ms Fielding. It's probably reasonably well known these days that Eric never knew what the original scripts of any TMR were about. He simply watched each episode & the film, and then made up his own story. There are two versions of the tale, both of which could well be true. The first is that the BBC wouldn't pay for translations; the second, which is the Thompson's version, that Thompson wouldn't have read them anyway (he was a Francophobe, apparently). It's a matter of some joy, then, to find that the other major inclusion in the extras is the original French version of the film *with* English sub-titles. It's not surprising to find the English script running along very similar lines to the French; with the visuals as they are, it couldn't do much else. However, it's both amusing and interesting to see how one moment the English script is saying something utterly different for a given scene, and at others it's almost verbatim the French version!
In conclusion, you'll find this rather different from what you're used to in the 5 minute episodes. At 70 minutes, it's just about the right length; any longer would have been stretching things too far. The restoration is good, the film is excellent, and so are the extras, so 5* from me!
on 29 October 2010
I grew up listening to the soundtrack LP, and it terrified me. Later I bought a VHS tape and have to admit that it wasn't as scary in visual form (although thats probably because I was in my 30's by then!). Its still a fantastic movie (far superior to the recent CGI effort) that will entertain children and adults alike. Since my Video Player chewed up the tape, I have been waiting for the DVD release, and was beginning to think that it would never happen. But here it is, and for anyone who's nostalgic for 70's kids TV, or those who just want to show their own kids a simpler more innocent form of entertainment than the current crop of (mostly) rubbish available to them, I highly recommend it.
on 7 January 2016
Cult classic, Dougal and the blue cat is a one of a kind spin off from the highly successful and much loved TV series. The story is a lot darker than the children's series and will be enjoyed by adults as well as the young. If you have not yet seen this and are hoping for something special you will not be disappointed. There is little I can add that would not spoil the surprise, other than to say this is the very best episode of the magic roundabout, a must see film.
on 28 October 2013
The English-language version of Dougal and the Blue Cat represents a perfect marriage of two disparate elements: the original French animation and Eric Thompson's vocals. Anyone familiar with The Magic Roundabout, the TV show which Dougal and the Blue Cat is an adaptation of, will know that Thompson invented his own scripts and personalities based on the visuals. Dougal and the Blue Cat was the first time Thompson brought in another actor - Fenella Fielding, partly of Carry On... fame - to voice a character. Anyone in love with the strange should watch this film, which like all great works for children appeals to adults too. Several images are so odd as to be almost macabre; for instance, when the Blue Cat visits the "Nightmare Room", he's assaulted and taunted by floating surrealist masks.
Unlike many big screen outings for TV shows, this one has a well-defined plot: Dougal, our contentious shaggy dog hero, becomes suspicious of Buxton, a blue cat who appears unannounced in the magic garden. Though Florence, Zebedee, Ermintrude and others are taken in by him, Buxton has a secret allegience to the Blue Voice (Fielding), which promises him power if he helps it in its universal conquest.
"Blue is beautiful, blue is best..." is the Voice's mantra, as it hides in an abandoned treacle factory where it subjects Buxton to various trials to prove his worth. Fielding's famously vampish tones are a good fit for her character; she reminded me of the White Witch in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, a symbol of dark, seductive femininity. Thompson, meanwhile, does an incredible job of delineating every other character, so each one has its own distinct personality. Dougal is a splendid curmudgeon; he's the funniest character, and gives the film a profoundly strong core.
His best friend, Florence, a human girl, is played surprisingly well too; Thompson resists the temptation to ham it up when playing a girl, and Florence is all the more likeable for that. She sings a heartbreaking song when she and her friends are imprisoned, which brings me to the next facet of Dougal and the Blue Cat's brilliance: it's also an effective musical. Thompson is a one man West End cast here; it's easy to forget that, having not read the original French scripts, he completely invented The Magic Roundabout as we know it.
Dougal and the Blue Cat is, above all, a work of moving strangeness. There's a wonderful scene where poor Dougal, while disguised as a Blue Dog, is locked in a room filled with his favourite treat: sugar. If he eats one lump, he'll be exposed as Dougal, so he's almost driven mad with temptation. Elsewhere, Buxton is thoroughly controlled by the Blue Voice, whom he dreams of one day overthrowing. The aforementioned Nightmare Room is genuinely unsettling, as are a few other visuals, and the whole concept of the invisible Blue Voice, which dreams of a Blue Universe, is weird in itself. Dougal and the Blue Cat is a remarkable "children's film", one of the few which genuinely deserves that accolade "fun for all the family".
NOTE: The pictured DVD is a remastered special edition which also contains the original French version (with English subtitles), and a great little analysis by film critic Mark Kermode.
on 9 October 2010
At last my worn out VHS tape version can be retired to the shelf as I await the release of this long awaited treasure on DVD.
If you never saw the five minutes long children's program "The Magic Roundabout" from the late sixties and early seventies, which appeared on TV every night just before the news, this will be completely lost on you.
If you know and love the characters, then you'll love this longer, darker movie. When Buxton the Blue Cat arrives in the magic garden, Dougal is no longer the centre of attention. Suspicious, Dougal does some investigating and is horrified by what he finds.
Full of topical (for the seventies) references, sarcasm and subtle drug references, no wonder this is a cult classic amongst students. It's great to hear the original voices from Eric Thompson (none of that disappointing 1980's remake stuff). Fenella Fielding is wonderfully cast as ....., well that would be telling !
on 26 July 2015
I recall having the LP soundtrack to this film as a child.... but never saw it at the cinema, as far as I can remember.
Been on the look at for this film for about 20 years, on and off... and now I've finally watched it the wait has been worth while... a fantastic DVD with both French and English versions.
... a must for those who should know better
on 10 July 2014
I saw this myself first late at night as a student years ago, and now I have a five year old who likes films with baddies so I bought this as it is seemed age-appropriate to me. I laughed when I read all the reviews that say it is a bit disturbing; I read them after he had watched it several times and thought it was great anyway. Yes, it is rather psychedelic and bizarre (especially the army of mop-heads), and though simple in constuction it is still appealing to my child brought up on Ghibli, Pixar, etc. mostly because its an entertaining story with good characters, which in the end is what its all about. My son is not easily disturbed and loves monsters and villains and hardly ever has nightmares. But this really is suitable for most 5 year olds. I think its part of childrens' cultural heritage to watch TV shows and films that their parents and grandparents watched and Dougal and the Blue cat has stood the test of time.
on 7 April 2015
Fantastic classic of a film. Previously the only way I could watch this was from an old video which I have now lost which prompted me to acquire it on DVD came as expected within time exactly as described. Would purchase from seller again. Thanks.