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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 31 August 2015
I had assumed that the 'U' rating given to this 1973 movie would have meant it would be safe viewing for everybody. Mind you I notice that, on the actual box, there's a warning that it 'contains a bereavement theme'. Oh my crikey, does it ever.

A word of warning of my own here: if this film can reduce a 44-year old man to tears (albeit one who is, admittedly, of somewhat dubious quality) then I fear for the mascara on the rest of you, that's all I can say.

I really ought to have known better too, because E.B. White's classic novel was read to me many, many years ago... presumably by someone who was keen for me to not be afraid of spiders. Or by someone who wanted the nightmares I had about spiders to have an even more psychologically complicated edge to them.

Not only that, but I was flicking through my little relatives' copy of the work not very long ago at all and, when I got to the line 'No one was with her when she died', I had to make up some excuse about trapping my fingers in the toilet seat in order to explain away the floods of tears. Oh heaven help us, I'm snivelling away now just thinking about it.

I can't imagine I'd have fared any better had I never clapped eyes on the blessed book to begin with. For all this film's phenomenal charm, there is that constant undercurrent of death wherever you look.

However, it is also a celebration of life. And, after all, you can't have one of those without the other. And at least the film has a wonderfully catchy score to go along with it courtesy of the Sherman Brothers. I know they're probably most famous for 'Mary Poppins' but, for me, the 'Charlotte's Web' soundtrack is far more reminiscent of their work on 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' - with the additional bonus of having nobody called Truly Scrumptious (or whatever her name was) yelling her head off and ruining some otherwise rather lovely music.

The cast of this movie are all excellent, with absolutely no exceptions. Debbie Reynolds' Charlotte is such a touching creation... although much of that is undoubtedly down to her animators who, very wisely I would say, decided to send six of her eyes off on their holidays for the duration of this movie. I hope the spider world is proud to have her speaking up for them and working her PR wonders. I always turf my eight-legged burglars out with the aid of a coaster and a glass anyway but, after seeing this film, I might have to rethink even that. I'd hate to think of Princess Leia's mum coming to any harm as she skydives out of my bedroom window.

Henry Gibson's Wilbur is cute almost beyond words. I recently decided to give vegetarianism a go, largely as a result of making the acquaintance of a couple of pigs who might otherwise have ended up as bacon. The thought of something as adorable as Wilbur ending up on my dinner-plate is enough to make me want to swear off pork scratchings for life.

I'm going to have to assume that anyone contemplating the purchase of this film will already have some idea of the story - not least because I genuinely don't know how I'd even begin to try and explain it all without wrecking it for everyone anyway. At the heart of it though, there is a beautiful story of true friendship. And it's even more touching in animated form than it is in the book.

I was toying with the idea of giving this to my two little relatives (aged 7 and 10) but three things are going to stop me from doing that. First, I don't want their mother thinking I'm the sort of uncle who gets a kick out of making her children cry; second, if she wants to provide the tissues and handkerchiefs, she can find the whole film (as of August 2015 at least) in its entirety on a certain video-sharing site. And third, I sent for the movie because it features the voice of the late Paul Lynde who, if you give me a minute first to get a shot of testosterone and a copy of my marriage certificate (unless that's going to make me look even worse...?), I am proud to say is my latest man-crush. His performance here, as Templeton the Rat, is deliciously seedy and provides some very welcome comic relief.

Agnes Moorehead's 'Goose' is just as wonderful and the interaction between the two of them is a classy little homage to 'Bewitched', where they played opposite one another so brilliantly as Endora and Uncle Arthur. Their duet version of 'A Veritable Smorgasbord' is a delight - and that song, in any of its forms, is one of the catchiest things I've ever heard.

The film is about 90 minutes long and comes with five different audio soundtracks (English, Czech, German, Hungarian and Turkish) and is equipped with the following subtitles: English for the hearing impaired, English (is there a difference?!), Arabic, Bulgarian, Czech, Finnish, German, Hungarian, Icelandic, Polish, Romanian and Turkish. The only other Extra is a Theatrical Trailer for the film itself.

Given the subject material, this is a thoroughly well-made film. To call it 'enjoyable' might be a bit of a stretch, but the music is marvellous and the cast are SO good, that it's worth shedding a few buckets' worth of tears over.
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on 2 August 2017
Love it.
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on 23 September 2017
Won't play in England unfortunately
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on 26 August 2017
It does not work on my DVD player
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Based on the children's story book of the same name by E. B. White, the delightful 'Charlotte's Web' was one of my most treasured children's movies which wasn't a Walt Disney production.

This 1973 animated musical drama was produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions and Sagittarius Productions, and tells the story of Wilber the pig (voiced by Henry Gibson), a runt of the litter who is helped by father's sweet daughter Fern (Pamelyn Ferdin), and a kind and motherly spider named Charlotte (Debbie Reynolds) to avoid the slaughterhouse. Also in the barnyard are a colourful cast of other animals, including the selfish but loveable rat Templeton (Paul Lynde).

The relationship between Wilber and Charlotte is very endearing, and the movie sends out a very important message about the substance of true friendship. I confess that whenever I watched it, the tragedy at the end always reduced me to tears, especially the genuinely moving scene between the two characters. I watched it again recently, and confess, after all these years, I still filled up.

The animation of the movie is good, though naturally inferior to what a company like Disney would have come up with, but the storyline is excellent, and complimented with charming, sing-along songs by the Sherman Brothers ('Mary Poppins', 'The Jungle Book', 'Bedknobs and Broomsticks'...) throughout. Complete with some fine comedic moments, 'Charlotte's Web' has everything to enchant the children, and indeed the adults. I only wish it was made available to purchase now on a region one DVD.
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on 15 March 2000
This is a lovely children's story that will bring tears to your eyes. The story demonstrates to children a true display of friendship. This is done through a film about a spider that can spin a web displaying a message. She uses this talent to try and save her friend, the pig. The animations. are spectacular
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on 1 February 2009
This is the original film of Charlotte's Web. The delightful music gives the film a wonderful atmosphere - if you hear the main song during the film while busy doing something else you HAVE to rush to watch. There are some lovely comic moments, especially when the rat overeats. Well worth a watch even if you love the remakes, and even if you are grown up.
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on 27 May 2007
A lovely film, based on the E.B. White book, with Debbie Reynolds as the singing spider Charlotte, who is a bit of a literary genius, protecting Wilbur the Pig from being slaughtered! The film has a nice message, as it encourages kindness to all living things.

- Paul Rance/booksmusicfilmstv.com.
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on 13 October 2010
This is a classic film, really one of a kind. Show it to your kids, they'll love it, and watch it again yourself. The film certainly will stand the test of time...but as for the ability to get a copy, well that's far less certain.
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on 22 June 2009
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