Pippi Goes on Board (1969 / 1975)

We enjoyed the pleasant surprise of finding Pippi Goes on Board, the second of two movies made from footage in the 1969 Pippi Longstocking TV series, at our library. It honestly didn’t occur to me to look for these when we moved up here. Turns out they also have the two proper theatrical movies as well; we’ll watch those in the not-too-distant future.

I learned that one notion I had about these films was totally wrong. I’d assumed that the first movie covered the events of the first half of the TV series – and we watched that first half about eighteen months ago – and the second movie covered the second half. Seems logical, right? But not even remotely. The thirteen TV episodes tell one narrative, and the movies pick and choose material from the shows, rearranging them into a different order entirely.

It opens with Pippi telling her father farewell, deciding instead to stay in Sweden with Tommy and Annika. But from there, it’s a mix of material from the second half of the TV series that was new to us and chunks from the first half that we’d seen. There’s about two minutes from episode two, and maybe five minutes from episode four, along with a sizable portion of the funfair material from episode six. It’s a really odd experience, especially since it appears that the return of Pippi’s father originally took place in episodes 12 and 13, and the beginning of this movie seems to start with the end of the TV series.

But while the experience was a bit weird for a production-oriented guy like me, it was a treat for our son, who guffawed all the way through it. He especially loved seeing Pippi feed a weed to the town’s mayor, who was napping in a field, and all of Pippi’s crazy feats of strength. She brings chaos to a classroom and some police officers get hit in the face with pies. It’s a great movie for six year-olds, since it’s much more fast-paced than the languid, slow, and occasionally reflective TV episodes.

Better still, the DVD from Hen’s Tooth Video, apart from featuring a really excellent restored print, features the original dub job, which Fred Ladd’s company oversaw in the mid-70s. The dub on the TV episodes is woefully poor, and while this isn’t perfect, it’s quite a watchable experience. Ladd had overseen translations and dubbing of several TV series from Japan in the 1960s, including Astro Boy, Gigantor, and Kimba the White Lion, so he knew what he was doing.

This compilation was apparently released in America in August 1975, but I can’t determine whether it had an actual theatrical release or if it went straight to the summer kiddie film festivals that were common in the seventies and eighties. Our kid really liked it – not as much as he liked the latest release of something modern like Lego Nexo Knights, mind – and I might just think about getting our own copies of this and the features for the shelves before long.

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