Review: ‘The Water Babies’

The musical screen version of The Water Babies, Charles Kingsley's children's novel, tells the story of innocence-versus-evil more or less straight. The slim $2 million production budget combines live action footage and - for the underwater sequences - animation.

The musical screen version of The Water Babies, Charles Kingsley’s children’s novel, tells the story of innocence-versus-evil more or less straight. The slim $2 million production budget combines live action footage and – for the underwater sequences – animation.

Screenplay plots the adventures of a 12-year-old apprentice chimneysweep, wrongly accused of theft, who dives into a pool to escape his pursuers. Trapped below the surface, he meets a succession of human stereotypes, jokily animated as underwater creatures, and has a battle to free the water babies, who normally inhabit an eternal playground in mid-ocean but have been captured by a shark and an electric eel.

Animated sequences by Cuthbert Cartoons in London, and movement synchronized by Miroslaw Kijowicz in Poland to a pre-recorded soundtrack, are garish but effective.

The Water Babies

UK

Production

Pethurst/Production Associates/Ariadne. Director Lionel Jeffries; Producer Peter Shaw; Screenplay Michael Robson; Camera Ted Scaife; Editor Peter Weatherley; Music Phil Coulter, Bill Martin; Art Director Herbert Westbrook

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1979. Running time: 93 MIN.

With

James Mason Billie Whitelaw Bernard Cribbins Joan Greenwood David Tomlinson Samantha Gates

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