Faerie Tale Theatre: Rip Van Winkle
Clob Lane | Toronto, Canada | 02/11/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Atmospheric and delightful version of the Washington Irving classic from Faerie Tale Theatre. Francis Ford Coppola creates a spellbinding film with Harry Dean Stanton turning in a great performance as the man who liked to sleep alot! Talia Shire is wickedly funny as Rip's wife, Wilma. Alot of people probably think the same thing as I do, that the sets are a little too fake such as the sheet used for water when the goblins talk about their misfortunate shipwreck. Overall however, it's another excellent episode."
Francis Ford Coppola seems to be directing in his sleep....
Toby Dammit | Chicago | 08/02/2003
(2 out of 5 stars)
"First of all, let me state that Faerie Tale Theatre is one of the best children's series ever made. It walks the fine line of being entertaining for both children and adults without pandering to either. However, this is by far the weakest entry in the series and should be avoided by all but completists. The dark aspects of Washington Irving's book have been toned down in service of a bland script and oddly tacked-on environmental message. There are glimpses of the sort of magic and wonder the story invokes, but mostly this is a lifeless and static adaptation. Francis Ford Coppola is the most acclaimed director to work on the show, but he's directing on autopilot here. The script by Mark Curtiss and Rod Ash (who have notably written the most as well as the lamest scripts in the series) wanders aimlessly in the first half before crashing to a halt in the second. Harry Dean Stanton as Rip is one of the few good things here, but Talia Shire is woefully miscast (although I think that was the point) as Rip's overbearing wife. The series always runs on a shoestring, but here it really shows. During Hudson's flashback of the storm at sea, even young children will be rolling their eyes at the toy boat tossing around on a blanket. Some of the set pieces do deliver (most memorably the encounter with the ghosts) and Carmine Coppola's music is pretty enough, but I can find little else to recommend here. Maybe if you need help falling asleep...."
Fine addition to the FAERIE TALE THEATRE series
Byron Kolln | the corner where Broadway meets Hollywood | 11/10/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"RIP VAN WINKLE is a fine addition to the FAERIE TALE THEATRE series, directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Harry Dean Stanton in the titled role.
Rip Van Winkle (Harry Dean Stanton) is a good man, he's just a too much of a dreamer is all. His wife Wilma (Talia Shire) has had just about enough of his loafing ways, the house is falling about their ears and there's no money.
When Rip goes hunting in the forest he happens upon a group of ghosts, who offer him some of their stange green drink. Sleepy and confused, Rip sleeps away in the forest (for 20 years!).
Once awake, Rip now finds himself in an entirely different world to that he knew only yesterday. What has happened to Rip Van Winkle?
Featuring great performances from Roy Dotrice and Tim Conway. Harry Dean Stanton is suitably-bewildered in the title role, and Talia Shire has a ball as the frazzled Wilma."
Enough of Washington Irving's Magic Resonates
Martin Asiner | jersey city, nj United States | 06/20/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"RIP VAN WINKLE is the kind of pseudo-fairy tale that can mean nearly anything that the reader wants. In the hands of director Francis Ford Coppola, RVW is a surprisingly entertaining version of the Washington Irving novel that was resurrected by the Fairie Tale Theater. A previous reviewer castigated Coppola for what he termed the cheapness of the sets. Yet, as I watched the film for myself (no children involved), I was carried along by what I saw as a deliberately surreal style that successfully mimicked the much more somber tone of the text. Rip (Harry Dean Stanton)is presented as a henpecked husband of wife Vilma (Talia Shire), a woman whose cacophanous shrewishness more clearly suggests Margaret Hamilton's Wicked Witch of the West than the shrill yelping of say Hillary Clinton. In such a non-threatening world, Vilma's harsh voice and equally harsh hairdo do little more than serve as plot devices to propel Rip into the haunted mountains of the Catskills, where the tale's true power resides. Rip leaves the outer level surreal world of his village to enter the inner level surreality of the Magic Mountain of Commander Heinrich. There he sees the magical ghosts whose own deaths 150 years ago prefigure his own looming sleep death of twenty years. Rip's return is a balancing of his own confusion of his long sleep with an equally confusing long sleep of the burgeoning united colonies. The silliness of the mayor (Tim Conway) suggests the subtext that the changes in Rip's village--astounding as they must seem to the bewildered Rip--are only the precursor to further changes that involve granting rights to women and people of color. When Rip finally accepts the reality of his new life, so does the viewer accept the notion that even the seeming reality of momentous changes must be viewed against future and even more momentous ones. RIP VAN WINKLE succeeds in resonating this message as well as far more "serious" films."