“The story is about the adventurous Princess Irene. The princess is off playing in the woods when she is attacked by goblins pets. She is saved by a mining young warrior boy named Curdie. They quickly become friends and get into a lot of trouble. The goblins attack and Irene must rely on her own magic to save Curdie, and in turn the entire kingdom”– Anthony Pereyra, IMDB.
The Princess and the Goblin is a British/Hungarian production. It is based off a novel by George MacDonald which was first released in 1872. The film was a critical and commercial disappointment upon its 1994 release in North America, having been overshadowed by the release of Disney’s The Lion King. Coincidentally, Rik Mayall, who voices Prince Froglip in The Princess and the Goblin, had been asked by Lion King composer Tim Rice to audition for the roles of Banzai, Zazu, and Timon (Mayall did not land any of the roles he auditioned for).
The Princess and the Goblin was met with harsh reviews, including one that called the film an “Uninteresting animated feature, with a dull fairy-tale plot dully executed”. To counter these reviews, the distributors asked movie critics to provide their children’s comments on the movie, which were then included in a newspaper promotion for the film. One four-year-old reviewer gave the film “91 stars!”.
Some thoughts from me (Potential spoilers below)…
The Princess and the Goblin is a film I vividly remember seeing as a kid, so I’m a bit biased by nostalgia. I do genuinely enjoy The Princess and the Goblin. I wouldn’t consider it a great film, but I think it’s a passable film. I find that there’s a definite charm to it, even if it is a bit rough around the edges. There are some visuals and scenes that really stuck with me all through the years (Princess Irene following the magic thread through the Goblin’s lair, for example). One of these days I should get around to reading the novel, if nothing else I’d like to see how many of these stand out movie moments are taken directly from the book.
One thing that I never noticed until it was pointed out in our viewing of the film, was that the movie is strangely lacking in foley (Which is a fancy way of saying, it lacks sound effects for the everyday things we hear, such as footsteps or doors opening). The film isn’t devoid of foley, but after it’s pointed out you realise that there’s quite a lot missing, which ends up giving the film an uncanny sort of vibe to it.
Honestly, that’s probably the best way to describe this film: There’s just something ‘missing’ that gives the film a strange vibe. It doesn’t render the movie unwatchable, it just prevents it from being something great.
This movie is worth a watch, just be aware that it’s not going to be a laugh-a-minute film. This one is probably best enjoyed alongside some discussion of what they could’ve done better. And with that, I’ll leave you with a song that crept into my brain as a kid and has been sitting there ever since.
The novel Princess and the Goblin is in public domain and can be read for free. I think reading it makes the movie more enjoyable.
Many of the unanswered questions in the movie like why the Goblin Queen wears shoes when no other goblin does, are answered in the book. The Goblin Prince Froglip notably plays a smaller role compared to the movie and is actually named Harelip.
Though one small nitpick I have with both versions of the story, is the goblin villains are too likable for the audience to want them dead at the end, well its an old fairy tale, so what should I expect!