Dougal and The Blue Cat DVD

Sunday, 31 October 2010 13:57

There has never been anything like The Magic Roundabout.  Its success as the bridge between children’s television and the BBC Six O’clock News was never quite matched by any of the other five minute formats which would frequently fill in for it.  The subversion within the series even boiled down to how the English soundtrack was crafted.  Narrator and re-interpreter Eric Thompson wouldn’t even reference the original French version, making up stories that fitted Serge Danot’s original visuals.

And so, the same technique was applied to the 1972 cinematic version of the 1970 original “Pollux et le chat bleu”. Playing out at the cinema rather than on telly, the technicolour of the production is positively psychedelic and of its time. The narrative is creepy, sometimes positively disturbing.  The references that would play well to adults were carried over, and the canvas for the movie is adjusted to justify the big screen treatment.

Dougal and The Blue Cat - restored on DVDThe pacing is a lot different to its shorthand variant, a necessity which is eased in gradually; the familiarity of Dougal’s schtick starts us off gently, before we go into previously unexplored territory.

One important change is that Eric Thompson opted out of doing one of the voices – step forward Fenella Fielding, whose vocal dexterity had previously been the Village Voice in The Prisoner, who gave life to ‘Madame Blue’. It’s a disturbing portrayal, whether this has any connection with her role in “Carry on Screaming” to double-dip the fear is anyone’s guess, but it’s a remarkably effective piece of casting by Thompson.

It’s difficult to summarise the plot and do it justice. There’s a new arrival in the Magic Garden, a devious blue cat called Buxton, significantly distinguished by a Northern twang. Dougal spots him talking to ‘The Blue Voice’, which is just the beginning of things starting to get seriously derailed. Zebedee’s moustache is in peril, Dougal’s friends find themselves imprisoned, and Dougal himself is exiled to the Moon, as the plot to turn everything blue is put into place. Is there a chance that Dougal can rise to the challenge and save their world?

Aside from the excellent picture restoration, DVD extras include “Thompson and The magic Roundabout”, featuring interviews with Fenella Fielding, Eric’s actress daughters Emma Thompson and Sophie Thompson, and Eric’s wife Phyllida Law. Critic Mark Kermode (who, not surprisingly gives the film a glowing review at ‘The Guardian’ website), gives his own personal rundown on the magic of the film.

You can also indulge in the Original French soundtrack with English subtitles, which demonstrates how much the Thompson version differs from the original. The package is rounded off with a Lobby Cards/Stills Gallery.

Adults re-viewing the film will get a bout of nostalgia and appreciate it ticks several demographic boxes in its appeal, viewing it in a different way from when they first saw it.  Children new to it will be hypnotised by the bright colours and constant action.

“Dougal and the Blue Cat” is out now as a single DVD from Second Sight, with a ‘U’ certificate, a run time of 79 minutes approx, and a RRP of £14.99, or get it for less at www.culttvstore.com

 

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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