It’s been a rough time to be an Irishman this past week. First we didn’t need the bailout then we might need a bailout and now we’re taking the bailout, which comes with an added dose of patriotic-busting shame in that most of it happens to come from the British. The French may have swallowed their national pride and took the Marshall Aid when it was given to them, although in fairness, they kind of really needed it.
So all this talk about the country being in the toilet has got me thinking about the last time it was in the toilet, which are more affectionately called the dark ages, a period of time known to the rest of the world as the 1980s. I should point out though, that the topic of today’s post happens to have been made in the 90s, although we were poor then too!
Today’s film is notable for being one of the first I remember seeing at the cinema. Beauty and the Beast was perhaps the first, which i saw right after they’d finished refurbishing the local picture house. All the same, Fievel Goes West has a place in my heart as the first film I can remember actually seeing. Sure I watched Beauty & the Beast, but I couldn’t for the life of me tell you how I felt about it at the time.
I should point out that Fievel Goes West was not associated with Don Bluth, although there is an Irish connection in that he did set up an animation studio in Ireland in the late 80s, the short-lived Sullivan-Bluth studio. Arguably Bluth’s greatest contribution to Ireland was the founding of an animation course at Ballyfermot College, which paved the way for home-grown studios to emerge, creating the likes of The Secret of Kells and Granny O’Grimm.
Getting back to the point, the film is somewhat sadly forgotten at this point, standing in the shadow of the original American Tale film that is lauded as one of Don Bluth’s best after he left Disney. I haven’t watched it in literally years, but I can still recall some of my favourite parts, the funny jokes, Tiger the cat and of course, Cat R. Waul, played to perfection by Mr. John Cleese.
I suppose that kind of brings up another aspect of youth, looking back and realising that for years you either listened to, or watched all these famous and talented people without having a clue who they were. I will freely admit that i watched Thomas the Tank Engine all through my early years and knowing that they were narrated by some bloke called Ringo Starr who seemed to be pretty good at it.
Did Fievel Goes West deserve to succeeed? I think it did, and it probably would have if it hadn’t have been caught up in the maelstrom of succes that Disney had only just begun to create with Beauty and the Beast. It’s an entertaining film on a number of levels, perhaps slightly more juvenile than we’ve come to expect thanks to Pixar, but it deserves at least one viewing. As far as I know, it is on Netflix, so now you’ve no excuses!
In the meantime, prayers for the repose of the soul of the country formerly known as Ireland are being csaid, most likely at a Catholic church near you.