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.