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Dougal and the Blue Cat (1970)
13th Sep 10
After hearing a female voice in the dead of night coming from a closed down treacle factory Dougal senses all is not right when a blue cat Buxton starts befriending the inhabitants of the magic garden.
Review Dougal and the Blue Cat or Pollux et le Chat Bleu, as it's original French title would have it, is finally getting released on DVD in the UK. This is great news for fans of this cult hit as by now their video copy must be well worn. The DVD is stacked with extras (unavailable for review) and for someone who never really watched The Magic Roundabout, of which this is a feature length movie, as a kid the film has a certain charm and surreal quality.
Unlike most children's films there is an edge deliberate or otherwise to Dougal and the Blue Cat that verges on the creepy and sinister. Most of this is attributable to the Blue Cat of the title. The Magic Roundabout has always had certain associations levelled at it; as did most children's classic TV programmes of that time. The vibe is easy and pleasant with an undercurrent of malevoilence - no really, it has - with the voice of the Blue Cat, the voice at the disused factory and some rather unnerving masks.
It is directed by Serge Danot and narrated by Eric (father of Emma) Thompson for the English version. Thompson also scripted it and provided various voices (with Fenella Fielding practically the only other cast member.) He also did the same for The Magic Roundabout ; which became such a sensation on British TV that when the BBC changed the time of the broadcast to an earlier slot there was a huge outcry. As with shows like Dr Who it wasn't just the kids switching on , but their parents and other adults too - and the earlier time slot would have meant the grownups missing it...no VCR's in those days you see.
All your favourites are on board - Dougal (of course), Zebedee, Brian, Ermintrude, Dylan and Florence. The voice-work and characterisations from Eric Thompson are fun and it plays well considering its age and whilst some movies are of their time this still holds up nicely and should appeal to both adults and their kids, although one suspects that the adults might end up watching it more.
Whereas the TV series was light in tone, being aimed at the littluns and all, the film is far darker; with our favourite characters all taken prisoner in the sinister castle with the Blue Cat, Buxton, doing as the Blue Voice/Madame Blue instructs to take over their garden, in exchange for absolute power. This is a movie that Mark Kermode considers one of his favourites of all-time and The Guardian thought it one of the creepiest films ever made. It's not hard to see why on either count.
4th Oct 04 With its fine blend of dark humour and shock horror, you will barely be able to avert your gaze from the screen; from the opening sequence on the desolate moors, to the thrilling finale in Piccadilly Circus.