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     Toad is 'planely' smitten in The Willows In Winter

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The Willows
   in Winter
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producers: TVC / HIT / Carlton UK
2D animation
      run time: 74 mins


 "The river has never failed to talk to me..."
                                                                          - Ratty gets poetic

    "I'm up in the air... I'm extraordinaire...
      I'm King of the Sky, above all those down there!..."

                                                                                    - Up, up and away with Toad


    More "Wind in the Willows" here from John Coates' TVC. Like before, it's a
    quality piece, stuffed with talent behind the camera, and there's an array of famous
    actors to be heard on the soundtrack, returning from that first production. Also
    like before, there's a live-action wraparound starring Vanessa Redrgrave that's
    as pretty as a chocolate box. But better than before, there's a whole new
    Willows story to tuck in to, because this is an adaptation of William Horwood's
    sequel. And certainly, it makes a welcome change to see our old friends Toad,
    Ratty, Mole and Badger in a new adventure because - oh - that original tale has
    been retold and animated so very many times, hasn't it?

    In this new tale, we return to the riverbank in the Summer after the battle for
    Toad Hall, where Toad is playing host to Mole's young nephew. But their croquet
    game is interrupted by the overhead flight of a biplane. Toad falls in love with the
    thing there and then, in spite of his reassurances never to get infatuated with
    infernal machines ever again...

    Jump forward to the depths of Winter, and Mole and his nephew are surprised
    by the sudden appearance of young Portly Otter. Ratty needs him. But poor
    Mole gets lost in an awful blizzard and plunges into the frozen river. Ratty's
    need wasn't important at all, but the info's arrived too late for Mole. Search
    parties are sent forth and our heroes must even enlist the help of the weasels
    for their manhunt - um - molehunt. Meanwhile, Toad zooms in on the scene with
    his brand new acquisition. Yes, indeed, it's a biplane. Badger requisitions the item
    for their search, but Toad sneaks behind the controls and - well - needless to say,
    chaos ensues. Ratty has a near-death experience. Mole has a premature memorial.
    Toad ends up in a jungle conservatory with the Magistrate and friends, has a run-in
    with a chimney sweep, runs away on a push bike, runs in to the Sweep's wife
    and a wedding party before running up against the judicial system, which puts
    him on trial for his unruly actions...

     The Willows In Winter

    The package echoes those of the Peter Rabbit films TVC were producing at
    this time.

    The flying scenes are very successful, with some great movement and camera
    swings as Toad zooms about the sky. It's also interesting to see some religious
    themes nudging their way into proceedings: Ratty has a near-death experience
    which brings him to the brink of "The Beyond". Contrast this with the trial sequence
    which is stark and nonsensical in a Lewis Carrol way. Suffice it to say, if you like
    the first TVC adaptation, well, you'll enjoy this one just as much...


     See also

    The Wind in the Willows (TVC)


     The Wind in the Willows on DVD

     UK DVD
The Wind in the Willows Collection
                Both TVC films / R2 / Carlton / November 1999

     USA DVD The Wind in the Willows/The Willows in Winter
                Both TVC films / Region 1 / Good Times Video / May 2001


from the book by William Horwood     

              Dave Unwin
      producer:             John Coates
      exec prod:           Jonathan Peel
      adapted by:         Ted Walker   
      music:                 Colin Towns 
      art director:         Loraine Marshall
      anim directors:     Roger Mainwood, Hilary Audus
      storyboard:          Dave Unwin
      casting dir:           Celestia Fox
      voices:                 Alan Bennett (Mole)
                                 Michael Gambon (Badger)
                                 Rik Mayall (Toad)
                                 Michael Palin (Rat)
                                 Enn Reitel (Otter)
                                 Adrian Scarborough (Nephew Mole)
                                 Zoot Lynam (Portly)
                                 James Villiers (Magistrate)
                                 David Sinclair (Gaoler, Clerk)
                                 Mark Lockyer (Chief Weasel)
                                 Ronnie Fraser (Chief Judge)
                                 Peter Cellier (Prendergast)
                                 Windsor Davies (Commissioner of Police)
                                 Mike Grady (Pilot)
                                 Bill Oddie (Sweep)
       add. voices:         Kate Robbins, Meg Nicol, Dan Russell,
                                  Bob Saker, David Sinclair
       live-action cast:   Vanessa Redgrave (Grandmother)
                                  Jemima Ffyne (Alexandra)
                                  Jordan Hollywood (Emma)
                                  Tom Stourton (Edward)


      On the web

AWN - Animation World Network
       AWN is the world's leading site for all things animated, able to draw
       on a myriad of resources to create informative and entertaining content
       for animators and fans of animation alike. This here article on TVC
       by Jill McGreal is one such example. A well-researched, detailed
       piece on the history of this top flight British company...

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