03 July 2012

Heidi [2005] (starring Emma Bolger and Max von Sydow)

I have loved the classic children’s story ‘Heidi’ for many years, so when I learned that there was a fairly recent film adaptation of the book, I thought I'd put it on my wishlist.

While I haven't read the book for many years now, my initial impression was that this 2005 version of 'Heidi' was pretty close to the original. Having said that, there were a few odd digressions - the 'Alm Uncle' being referred to as 'Uncle Alp', for one thing, and the goats' names being changed - both so minor as to seem rather pointless to have changed, although I'm not such a pedant as to worry over-much.

Still, the basic plot follows that of the book pretty well. Orphaned Heidi (Emma Bolger) is taken by her aunt to stay with her grumpy grandfather (Max von Sydow) when nobody else wants her. He isn't keen at first, but they grow to love each other, and Heidi makes friends with the goatherd Peter (Sam Friend).

Then, out of the blue, Heidi's aunt returns and snatches her away, to become a companion to the wealthy but disabled Clara. There, Heidi has her first taste of fine living, befriends people of all classes, and takes the fancy of Clara's grandmother...

The scenery is stunning at times, but the pace is a bit slow; it's not that I wanted to rush through the film, but there were times when almost nothing seemed to be happening. Moreoever, although the adults were well in character - I particularly liked Heidi's grandfather, and also the delightfully horrible Miss Rottenmeier (Geraldine Chaplin)- , we found the child actors disappointing. Peter was mostly believable, but Clara (Jessica Claridge) seemed rather twee and unreal, and Heidi herself, though believable in places, seemed over-done, with exaggerated yawns and tears at times, and little show of emotion in general. I wasn't worried by the faint Irish accent which came through, but it did seem rather incongruous.

Still, overall we thought this a likeable film which would probably be enjoyed by children of any age who have enjoyed the classic book.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

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