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Absolutely Lives Up to Its Title
animated, Dir Bob Godfrey, et. al.
Way back in 1978, there was a series on public television, entitled "Academy Leaders", which showcased a number of Oscar-winning or-nominated short films.

Generally, the main audience that sees these films is the voting members of the Academy, since short films dfon't get a lot of distribution these days.

One of the quirkiest and funniest (and, oddly, most informative) of the films shown was this one -- a biography of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, arguably Victorian Great Britain's greatest engineer. Brunel worked with his engineer father on the first Thames Tunnel, then went on to design numerous docks and bridges, before being appointed Chief Engineer of the Great Western Railway. He designed three steamships (one of them was for many years the largest ever built).

As the host of the PBS program remarked in introducing this film, "The facts about Brunel's career are straight. Very little else in this film is...", and he was absolutely right.

This film mixes several anmation techniques -- cell animation, modified live action, camera motion on still images and so on. The animation is generally excellent to occasionally brilliant, and most of the songs are so catchy that, even though it's been at least twenty years since last i viewed this film, i could sing several of them from memory.

It's appropriate, i think, to mention that, while undeniably great fun, "Great!" is also, in places, PG to PG-13 level jokes, featuring, among other things, jokes about living bras, other corsetry and mild sexual innuendo in some of the songs and accompanying animaion. Nothing you wouldn't find in the average teenage hit film (or in "ET", for example, for that matter), but possibly a bit unanticipated, by some people, in an animated film.

But this film is, quite undeniably, exactly what its title proclaims it -- Great!

(Not mentioned in the film is that Brunel's final project [the Great Eastern, the gigantic ship that had so many problems in its construction and launching that the film implies they led to Brune's death] was, after her retirement from a fairly mediocre career in passenger service, the only vessel large enough to carry and lay the thousands of miles of the first transatlantic telegraph cable. I like to think that the Little Man [as this film refers to him once or twice] probably smiled down from "That Great Workshop in the Sky" at that.)