Old-time favourite is simply magic

22nd October 2010 at 01:00

Director: Serge Danot

Starring: the voice of Eric Thompson

Released on DVD on 11 November

Certificate: U

Rating: 45

Dougal and the Blue Cat was written and directed by Serge Danot and adapted by Eric Thompson in 1972. It was originally called Pollux et le chat bleu in France and is a film version of The Magic Roundabout TV series.

The main character is Dougal, a long-haired dog who looks like a mop. His friends are Florence, a young girl; Zebedee, a sort of jack-in-the-box man with a spring instead of feet; Ermintrude, a talking cow; Brian, a snail who whizzes around; Dylan, a rabbit who plays guitar; and Mr McHenry, the gardener.

Dougal meets a blue cat, Buxton, whom everyone likes but turns out to be evil. Only Dougal realises this and must stop Buxton before it is too late. Buxton wants to turn the magic garden blue but Dougal wants to keep it colourful.

Before I started watching this film, I was really excited because my mum said she used to watch it when she was a little girl. But when it began I thought it was going to be boring because there was a lot of talking. Luckily, when things got moving it was fun. The film is very funny and the colours are so bright that I thought I needed to put sunglasses on!

There are some great songs that I found myself humming along to, and strange things in the garden like the magic roundabout, a talking train and flowers that sing. But then the land they live in is called the magic garden, after all ...

All in all, I thought Dougal and the Blue Cat was a very good film and would recommend it to everyone.

Amy Wright, eight, Yenton Primary School, Birmingham

Rating: 35

Dougal and the Blue Cat is the recently restored feature-length animation of the classic children's TV programme The Magic Roundabout. Each of the much-loved characters return and we are treated to the familiar colour-saturated magic garden set in a beautiful silhouette against the night sky.

The idyll is disturbed with the arrival of a sinister blue cat - Buxton, a classic villain complete with menacing catchphrase: "I'm so evil!" This is a cat on a mission. His masterplan is to take over the magic garden and it's up to Dougal to save the day.

On one level this is a typical children's story. The film begins in a happy, fairytale land. An outsider arrives to threaten this. There is a fight between good and evil, and good prevails. Throughout, the themes of trust, friendship, forgiveness and reconciliation are explored.

The film could also be viewed at a more ideological level. In taking over the magic garden, Buxton's plan is to turn the world blue. All other colours are to be rejected, such as the primroses being replaced with blue flowers, all clothes are dyed blue and there are even plans to turn the stars in the night sky blue. In championing blue to the exclusion of all other colours, there are undertones of something darker at work: is this an attempt to form a totalitarian state?

This film will have a nostalgic appeal to adults reunited with favourites from their childhood. For today's children, however, who are used to digital animation, the old-fashioned style might jar.

Nevertheless, this is an attractive, well-paced film, full of adventure, danger and song, which will certainly appeal to key stage 1 and lower key stage 2 audiences.

Rachel Caddick, Filmclub leader, Yenton Primary School, Birmingham

- Filmclub, a charity supported by Lovefilm, helps to set up after-school film clubs where children watch and discuss a range of films, promoting learning in an informal setting. Each week members of Filmclub will review everything from new releases to cinema classics. Join at www.filmclub.orgregister


Director: Laura Gabbert and Justin Schein

Starring: Colin Beavan, Michelle Conlin

Released on DVD on October 25

Certificate: 15

Rating: 35

No Impact Man is a documentary about the life of the Beavan family as they try to go through a year without making any negative environmental impact. The film raises many important issues and shows us that the little green things we do make a big difference.

Environmental issues do not normally grab me and this is not something I would usually watch. But anyone interested in this subject should see it. It offers many solutions for reducing the impact we have on our planet and problems many refuse to acknowledge. The issues raised are fascinating, but the lengths they go to are a little extreme. Banning toilet paper is a drastic measure that I'm not sure I could take ...

The issues raised show how the way we live adds to the damage done to our planet. The film is inspiring and reveals how little changes in our lives can have a priceless impact on our community. But I would not go out of my way to watch it again.

Sagar Patel, 15, Ilford County High School, Essex

Director: Peter Collinson

Starring: Michael Caine, Noel Coward, Benny Hill, Raf Vallone

Out now on DVD

Certificate: PG

Rating: 45

The Italian Job is a British classic, although at times it can be a little slow moving.

I think the main reason this charmingly British film works so well is the charisma with which Michael Caine pulls off the role of Charlie. It's hard to decide what made this character so loveable, but the much-imitated accent and his womanising attitude probably have something to do with it.

Another reason I gave this film a high rating is the way it made Minis look so cool. Even the most cynical could not watch one of the car chases without cracking a smile.

Another reason the film works so well is that it doesn't take itself too seriously. It's not a serious, gritty crime flick and isn't supposed to be - that's the beauty of it.

Overall this movie was fun, quintessentially British and something I would definitely watch again. And remember: "You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!"

Aubrey Powel, 14, The Walton Girls' High School, Grantham.

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