The Princess and the Goblin is a 1991 animated fantasy film directed by József Gémes and the voice cast consists of actors such as Joss Ackland, Claire Bloom, Roy Kinnear and Sally Ann Marsh.
The movie is an adaptation of George MacDonald’s 1872 novel “The Princess and the Goblin.”
|Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about|
the entire movie.
Set in a mountainous kingdom, the widowed King leaves to attend affairs of state, leaving his daughter Princess Irene alone with her nursemaid, Lootie. When Irene is on an outing with Lootie, she runs away on purpose & Lootie is unable to find her. When the sun sets, Irene finds herself lost in a sinister forest and is attacked when a clawed hands bursts through the earth and attempts to seize her kitten, Turnip.
Several deformed animals corner Irene until strange singing sounds are heard through the trees which drives them into a fit & they flee. The singing is revealed to be a young boy, Curdie, the son of a miner. He discovers Irene is lost and leads her back to the castle. He informs Irene that the monsters were goblins and their "pets", and that they are driven away by singing.
Curdie says that everyone except the King and his family know of the goblins & Irene reveals that she is a Princess. The next day, Irene goes exploring in the castle after she discovers a magical secret door in her bedroom. She ventures into a tower and meets the spirit of her Great Great Grandmother (who is also called Irene) who informs Irene that she will be there to help her because Irene will soon be in grave danger.
On that same day, Curdie and his father are underground in the mines & Curdie falls through a pothole and into the realm of the goblins. Hidden, he follows the goblins to a vast cavern where the Goblin King and Queen are holding an audience, announcing their scheme to flood the mines and drown the "Sun People” (or humans).
Suddenly, Prince Froglip (who is heir to the goblin throne) announces drowning them isn’t enough and states he shall abduct the Princess of the Sun People and marry her, thereby forcing the humans to accept the goblins as their rulers. He claims that this is revenge for the humans exiling the goblins underground centuries beforehand.
Before Curdie can run and tell the others, the goblins find him and put him in a dungeon, but Irene manages to Curdie with the help of magic string that her great great grandmother gave to her.
The goblins are able to flood the mines and attack the castle, but with the help of Curdie and Irene, the people fight the goblins off and save the kingdom.
- Joss Ackland as King Papa
- Claire Bloom as Great Great Grandmother Irene
- Roy Kinnear as Mump
- Sally Ann Marsh as Princess Irene
- Rik Mayall as Prince Froglip
- Peggy Mount as the Goblin Queen
- Peter Murray as Curdie
- Paul Keating as Curdie’s Singing Voice
- Victor Spinetti as Glump
- Mollie Sugden as Lootie
- William Hootkins as Peter
- Robin Lyons as the Goblin King
The movie was the first animated feature from Wales and the 25th full-length cartoon from Hungary. It was produced by the Welsh television station S4C, and the Cardiff-based Siriol studio along with Hungary's Pannonia and Japan's NHK.
With a budget costing $10 million, the movie teamed up producer/screenwriter Robin Lyons with director József Gémes and most of the principal animation was produced at the Siriol facilities.
“The Princess and the Goblin” was first released in 1992 & 1993 across Europe and was later picked up for release in North America by Hemdale Releasing to be released in the summer of 1994.
The movie was critically & commercially unsuccessful (and was overshadowed by the release of The Lion King at the time), ranking at #13 at the box office, showing at only 795 theaters & grossing only $451,560 with a domestic gross of $2,105,078.
The movie also received poor reviews from critics.
The staff of Halliwell's Film Guide deemed it an "Uninteresting animated feature, with a dull fairy-tale plot dully executed."
Stephen Holden of The New York Times wrote: "If The Princess and the Goblin is mildly diverting children's fare, its characters are not sharply focused visually or verbally. In a cinema that teems with terrifying monsters, the goblins appear to be ineffectual and unmenacing even when they are on the warpath.”
Rita Kempley of the Washington Post wrote that the movie set a standard as far beneath that of Aladdin.
In a desperate attempt to counter the film’s bad reviews, Hemdale asked several movie critics to view the film with their children, and asked those children for their comments on the film which were subsequently included in its newspaper promotion.
Mentioned in the advertisements were Michael Medved's daughter, Sarah and Bob Campbell's four-year-old daughter ("It gets 91 stars!"). The idea came from Hemdale executives who thought that animated films from the Disney company were preferred over those from other studios.
- List of animated feature-length films
- List of Welsh films
- List of American films
- The Last Unicorn
- The Black Cauldron
- The Thief and the Cobbler
- Quest for Camelot