16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
An echanting version of a magical tale,
This review is from: Kenneth Grahame's The Wind In The Willows (Standard Edition) [DVD]  (DVD)
Kenneth Graham's story is a childhood classic whose charm I believe has been eroded by various 're-imaginings' and plasticine figure short films that do not resemble the characters or stories. This adaptation reminded me how much Graham had to say about friendship, courage and adventure. So much so that I went to buy the book to read again. That this version moved me to go back to Graham's tale as an adult is the greatest praise I can give it.
The production standards, script and direction are absolutely enchanting with not a single jarring note. However, the central performances of Matt Lucas as Toad, Mark Gatiss as Ratty and Lee Ingleby as Mole and Lee Hall's script are what eleveate this to one of the best features I have seen on television in years. The producers wisely kept any makeup to a minimum, merely suggesting animal features, and allowed the actors to physically portray their characteristics. This restraint pays off and every performance in utterly convincing but does not get in the way of what is essentially a very human tale of friendship and adventure. Instead the CGI effects which are used are always appropriate and contribute seemlessly and relevantly rather than appearing for the sake of it.
Although it is hard to single out an individual in a project so successful that clearly a great team worked on it I have to say that Lee Ingleby both carried and stole the show. As Mole he leads the audience through the tale and conveys the perfect mix of anxiety when faced with the unknown but enough courage to overcome his hesitation and be rewarded with friendship and new experiences. I think all of us can relate to that timidity and aspire to overcoming it and forming connections with the people and world about us. Mole's myopic horizons become with the help of his friends and his own resources a vista of possibilities and Lee Ingleby convinces you of this with a charming performance that is never heavy-handed. If I seem to be reading a little too much into the portrayal of an animal in a children's story I can only recommend that you buy this DVD and watch Mr. Ingleby's performance. He is the extra special element in an absolutely fabulous production.