DVD REVIEW Dougal And The Blue Cat
A very blue movie
1972 * U * 79 mins * £15.99 * 1 November 2010
Distributor: Second Sight
Director: Serge Danot
Cast: Eric Thompson, Fenella Fielding
Never mind that CGI travesty from 2005 – this is the only true Magic Roundabout movie. This feature-length version of the animated children’s classic sees the Magic Garden where Dougal, Zebedee and co reside under threat from a sinister force that wants to colour the whole world blue. It’s like some ghastly nightmare of Conservatism triumphant… or “reality”, as we now call it.
Fenella Fielding plays the sinister disembodied Blue Voice that purrs, “Blue is beautiful, blue is best!” Carrying out her scheme to “wipe out all other colours – like heliotrope!” from his base of a disused treacle factory is Buxton, the titular feline, a Northern-accented rotter who says things like, “Curses and black pudding!”, and spends much time chuckling at his own wickedness – “Ooh, I’m so evil!”
As with the TV series, the chief source of delight is Eric Thompson, who voices all the other characters, dubbing over the original French animation; his space-filling chuntering is as charming as it is aimless. There are some great one-liners (during a brief sojourn to the moon, Buxton’s verdict is “It’s even worse than Barnsley”) and there’s plenty for adults to appreciate: a freak-out sequence where garishly-coloured African masks flash up on screen is genuinely chilling, and as anyone who isn’t blue is clapped in chains, it’s all-too-tempting to read it in terms of an ethnic cleansing metaphor. As a dramatic narrative, it’s surprisingly satisfying.
The only fly in the ointment? The songs. Thompson isn’t exactly the world’s greatest lyricist, and his tremulous, high-pitched croon sounds like he’s impersonating a little old lady.
The original French version (with subtitles), plus three interviews: one with Eric Thompson’s daughters Emma and Sophie and their mother Phyllida Law; one with Fenella Fielding; one with fan Mark Kermode. There’s also a gallery of lobby cards and stills.