Once Upon a Forest (1993)
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From the bottom of my heart to those people that designed and directed the film, and to the actors and to Mr. Crawford - BRAVO!! ENCORE!!
And, in the end, humans come and clean up the mess. The only adult character, the only anti-human character, is amazed and awed. I think that directly contradicts the "humans are bad" message people are complaining about.
If I had blindly seen this movie for the first time, I would give an irritated comment. But I can remember what I thought as a six year old, and my sister remembers the same things. My much younger sister loves it as much as my sister and I did, and I can safely say that it doesn't instill any absurdities in a child. Truly, this film has no shades of gray, only black and white. But young children can't understand that many shades of gray, and no connection is made between (possible spoiler) the 'bad humans' in the movie and their own loving family.
If you're looking for an entertaining movie for your kids, I recommend that you rent "Once Upon a Forest". However, I don't recommend that you watch it with your kids, as, I'm certain, it will irritate the heck out of you.
Usually, animated movies like these don't find my favor, neither do I remember them very long. However, there's something about this one that somehow touches my heart. I first saw this video when I was about 8 years old, maybe a little older, 10 at the most. Years later, My younger brother, about 9, wanted to watch this video. I was 16 then, and at first, I had no interest in watching the movie. But then I remembered watching it years ago, and thought, oh, what the heck, I'm not doing anything today. So I watched it. Things that I paid no attention to when I was young I now watched closely. The introduction, transitions, quality of the video, the story, and reality of the video and characters. Even though this video is over 15 years old, it still had exceptionally good quality for a VHS tape. The characters are so real, you like them instantly. When I say real, I mean being able to tell the difference between a male and a female mouse, badger, and other critters that were in this movie. The young furlings start out as typical kids, mischievous and selfish. This leads to a few minor consequences. Eventually, they realize the danger and the reality of the real world out there, for example, the road. Now, I could get picky and say the car, tanker truck, "Yellow Dragons", and the humans did not look very realistic, but hey! This video isn't based on those things, so why judge the movie by that?
When Michelle falls sick, the other young furlings realize the need to work together, get along, share, obey rules, and never give up. The songs, especially "Please Wake Up" were very touching, and even brought tears to my eyes. I liked how the furlings learned to respect their elders, so to speak, such as Uncle Cornelias, who was very wise. They balanced to movie very well with suspense and action.
The end brought tears to my eyes once again, as it was very touching. It is an animated film and yet it brings out the reality of life. The only few things I would have done differently are these:
1. If I was uncle Cornelius, I would have been much more upset with the furlings after they did foolish things, especially, when it ruins long periods of work. 2. It would have been nice to see Abigail with Willy again, since they liked each other. I thought for sure he would return to the picture towards the end, but never saw him. 3. It was really sad to leave Michelle without a Mommy or Daddy.
Those are the only things I would have done differently. Like I said, I wish Fox still made good movies like this one. The new animated movies have much better graphics, but the stories usually aren't the greatest, and they tend to add humor and content that isn't really appropriate for children.
Like 'Ferngully', 'Once Upon a Forest' spells out the same message – forest creatures are good and man and his destructive fumes and bulldozers are bad. The message is spelled out in this movie in these terms: the fuzzy woodland heroes are herbal vegetarians and man is a meat-eating source of environmental apathy.
The creatures in the film are called Furlings and they live in a tiny woodland looked over by the wise old Uncle Cornelius who informs the youngsters of a time when man destroyed the woodlands with heavy machinery in his mad pursuit of progress. Low and behold – no sooner does unc spin that tale then a tanker truck hits a glass bottle in the road (tossed out of the car by a drunk driver) and spill deadly fumes into their homes.
Just to drive the message home the fumes kill a few of the Furling parents in a scene I found profoundly disturbing to the movie's target audience. The children Furlings have to set out on an adventure to find rare plants that will save the Furlings who are now comatose.
And so we're off on one of those familiar adventures where the kids get into one scrape after another at the hands of the human's environmental hatred. Nothing bad happens to any of them – that much is obvious – but that's strange considering that a few of the characters in the toxic spill are allowed to die.
The characters in the movie aren't terribly memorable, they are just a conglomeration of characters from countless other films of the same level. They speak in their respective character traits and are given dialogue that never breaks away from the pattern of the furthering of the plot.
'Once Upon a Forest' isn't exactly a jarring experience especially after having been recently dazzled by the imaginative power of 'My Neighbor Totoro' and 'Mononoke Hime'. This is a movie in which the filmmmakers were afraid to try anything bold because they didn't want to go over the audience's head – they didn't think that kids had the ability to accept anything new. I only saw the film a few days ago but I am having trouble remembering much about it. It's been six years since I saw 'Mononoke' or 'Totoro' and I remember them in vivid detail.
Sure, there are some moments that could easily frighten younger kids and the fact that it could've been a little bit longer, but these two flaws are easily overcomed by it's beautiful animation and some great characters. Abigail, Russell, Edgar, and Michelle are likable furlings and some of the minor characters are fine. Cornelius, however, is by far my favorite character thanks to Michael Crawford's excellent voice work. In fact, the voice acting is pretty good for a non-Disney film released in the 90s. The musical songs aren't the best, but they're tolerable enough to listen to especially (Please Wake Up sung by Michael Crawford).
Overall, Once Upon A Forest may be flawed, but I think that this is completely underrated and I think people would give this a chance. Besides, I didn't understand all the hatred it had on rottentomatoes.
But how can you go wrong? Anyone who is touched by music as remotely hard as I am would have tears at least slightly threatening them during his song. needless to say, I love MC, and that is why I would recommend this movie - but hye, I'm bias!
It's a shame that this movie is hated. Sure, it's pretty dark, I mean, Michelle's (The badger) parents are lying dead on the ground due to the gas leak, and also got her very ill. But thankfully her friends, Abigail (The mouse), Russel, (The hedgehog), and Edger, (The Mole), were there to get the herbs they need to get her better.
My only problem with this movie is that the 3 Furlings (Yeah, that's what they're called) were able to build the plane in about a few seconds, while Cornelius took months to build it. I mean, what the heck?
I don't want to spoil TOO much, I recommend you buy this movie at Wall- Mart, and watch it. It's not as bad as people say it is. I give it a 8/10.
I really don't know why this movie has a rating of like, 5. If watched when a kid, it sets you up for an adventure and keeps you on the edge of your seat wondering if the animals will ever rescue their friend or not =P. It's a fantasy, and what kid doesn't like that? It pulls you in with a strong message and lovely story, and so I strongly recommend anyone to show this to their seven year old because It's definitely worth it.
But it wasn't even the environmental propaganda that was as bad as the cheap animation, corny, sappy soundtrack and biased themes! Not to mention it's aimed at little kids, it'll either scare them or bore them but I have yet to meet a kid who cares about saving trees. Kids want entertainment, not greener rainforests and recycled bottles, for crying out loud! And how much plastic was used in all the DVD and VHS copies of this movie? The voice acting, that was just plain weird. It was like a really bad eco-friendly Disney rip-off. I recommend you only watch it for nostalgic value (if you were ever forced to watch it growing up), and show your kids something better, something educational but not brainwashing, or just show them something fun! Kids aren't political scientists, they're not doctors, they're not environmental alarmists, they just want to watch something funny and interesting. Don't subject them to this stuff.
I would say about this that I always wanted to watch this with my family and friends again and again, the story is good, the animation is so brilliant and stupendous, the characters are remarkable good and the songs are splendid! if your in for a good mood for clever animated family films, then you'll like this one.