Review: The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb (1993)
Directed by: Dave Borthwick
Writer: Dave Borthwick
Nick Upton as Pa Thumb
Deborah Collard as Ma Thumb
Frank Passingham as Man #1
The last few years have been very kind to animation fans, what with all the excellent Pixar films, movies like How to Train Your Dragon, Kung Fu Panda, and the recent re-release of the Lion King. However, today I would like to touch base on a generally unseen animated movie done in England by a group called the Bolex Brothers, in 1993.
Recently, I found out about a little British-made movie called The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb (Ha! See what I did there? I said little…y’know, cuz it’s…Tom Thumb…aheh…heh…yeah).
It is directed by Dave Borthwick, (who is mostly known in England for The Magic Roundabout), and it is done in one of my favorite film mediums, stop-motion animation. That’s all well and good…I mean, there have been quite a few stop motion movies released in the last few years…however, the strange thing about this film is that the actors are all filmed in stop-motion as well. This way of filiming is known as pixelation… it gives them an odd, herky-jerky motion whenever they move that is very unsettling, yet fascinating to watch. There is also very little spoken dialogue, most of the communication is done in grunts, squeaks, and other strange noises.
The movie revolves around the character of Tom; he is an odd, fetus-like child who was born due to an accident at an artificial insemination factory that apparently provides all the mothers in the town with their children. Unfortunately, an insect crashes into the tube holding the fluid that would create Tom, and it causes him to be born only a few inches tall, and somewhat mutated. However, Tom’s parents (whose characters both don’t have names…they are referred to as ‘Father’ and ‘Mother’) don’t seem to mind one bit, still showing him love and affection, and thus their life in their strange, grim and murky village goes on.
What they were not aware of was the shadowy figure watching the whole thing from outside their home. Soon enough Tom is kidnapped by this man, and taken to a genetics laboratory to be experimented on. Will Tom be able to escape from the unspeakable tortures that he is put through, and will be make it back home to his parents? You’ll have to check out the movie to find out.
I knew nothing of this brilliant little film before a couple of days ago, and I found out about it via the Adult Swim website; they were doing a countdown of the strangest Stop-Motion films that are out there. Apparently the movie was originally only 10 minutes long, commissioned by the BBC for showing during the Holiday season. Not too surprisingly, it was rejected due to the dark subject matter. Oddly enough, though, the BBC still loved the film, and asked the filmmakers for a feature length version. This is the result.
The summary they had written of the film looked interesting, so I decided to check it out via Youtube…and I am very glad I did. Never have I been so disturbed yet fascinated by a film, animated or otherwise. This movie just sucks you in, grabbing you by the throat and not letting go until the final scene. I will warn you…this is definitely -not- a happy fairy tale for the kids. There is a sense of melancholy about the whole piece…yet it is also oddly touching in parts.
It really has nothing to do with the original story of Tom Thumb…the only similarity is the character’s name. After that, the comparisons are like night and day. I was reminded of David Lynch very much; the film has the same bizarre quality that Lynch brings to his films. If you don’t like bugs, I would suggest watching something else…because for some reason, the filmmaker has a fascination with insects…they are crawling all over the place in this movie. Also keep an eye out for the crucified Santa Claus on the wall inside one of the houses. Yeah, don’t ask.
There is plenty of disturbing imagery in the film to whet a horror film fan’s appetite; you will love the scenes inside the laboratory where all sorts of odd creatures are floating about in tubes and tanks and other holding devices. Actually, I found that this movie disturbed me a lot more than a majority of the recent horror films released in the past few years.
I give this movie a glowing recommendation, be you a fan of horror, or a fan of creative moviemaking. I guarantee that even if you don’t like the movie, it will still leave an indelible impression on you for a long time after you view it.
The website for the Bolex Brothers’ films is: http://www.bolexbrothers.co.uk/features.htm
Reviewed by : Rzepkoid