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Princess and the Goblin Movie Review

irene macdonald joss cat

My niece Emma, then two years old, had severe reservations about 1994's Thumbelina, so I wasn't quite sure how she would react to The Princess and the Goblin. Who knows what will or won't frighten very small children? This time around, Emma wasn't even mildly alarmed, not by dark caverns or subterranean creatures or a ghost in the castle tower. The three-year-old boy in the row behind us, though, screamed bloody murder at a huge close-up of one of the goblins. The Princess and the Goblin is based on George MacDonald's fairy tale from the year 1872. It revolves around the Princess Irene and her efforts to save the kingdom from an evil scheme hatched by the Froglip, the Goblins’ leader. Irene is helped by the spirit of her magical grandmother, by her faithful cat Turnip, and by her young friend Curdle. Most of the grown-ups are fairly ineffectual; they're forever riding off somewhere or falling asleep or simply not paying attention. So it's the kids to the rescue for most of the narrative's 82 minutes. The artwork is nicely done and the voice artists (including Claire Bloom as Irene's grandmother and Joss Ackland as the King) are well chosen. Yet there seems to be a remote quality at the core of this movie as if the filmmakers felt they were skating on thin ice and were trying maybe a bit too hard to keep MacDonald's delicate allegory in balance: scary but not too horrifying, instructive but not too preachy, lighthearted but don't forget that Irene has to confront her own fears in order to allay those of everyone else. Well, The Princess and the Goblin is a brave effort and Turnip the cat is a charming distraction, at least. If it does well, MacDonald also wrote Irene and Curdle in 1882, supplying ample source material for a sequel. AKA: A Hercegno es a Kobold.

1992 (PG) 82m/C D: Jozsef Gemes; V: Glenda Jackson, Joss Ackland, Claire Bloom, William Hootkins, Rik Mayall, Peggy Mount, Victor Spinetti. VHS

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