Darby O'Gill and the Little People Review Picture


Disney is so well-known for its animated classics until it's easy to forget that they also made quite a few live-action productions as well. Of course most everyone remembers "Mary Poppins", but there was also "Bedknobs and Broomsticks", the "Herbie" film series, "Song of the South", and this movie, "Darby O'Gill and the Little People". As with many Disney films, this movie is not an original creation by Disney, but rather a film adaptation of a preexisting book; chiefly "Darby O'Gill and the Good People" and "The Ashes of Old Wishes And Other Darby O'Gill Tales" by Herminie Templeton Kavanagh.

Now here is a movie that would likely be lost on most people today, as modern audiences have become so desensitized and demoralized by shallow mainstream films and television until most people today have an attention span that can only be measured in milliseconds. This is a movie that actually has a strong sense of story written and directed by people who knew how to tell a good story. In this film, there are well-polished characters portrayed by fine and gifted actors who make the development of said characters both likeable and believable (one of said actors being a very young Sean Connery). You can actually relate to the characters and their conflicts; unlike many modern films where the characters and their problems are either totally bland or completely unreasonable. There's a good sense of pacing too; the plot progresses gradually and builds up in a manner that aids the story and maintains the suspension of disbelief where such suspension is needed. Sadly today, I imagine few people could appreciate a film like this as it wouldn't be "exciting enough" for their high-adrenline addiction to senseless violence, lewd sexuality, and over-the-top overdone action sequences.

Unlike most films I've seen depicting leprechauns and Irish folklore, this story feels more genuine. It doesn't feel like a cheap attempt to exploit the Irish with ignorant stereotypes and bullshit fairytales that bear no semblance to the actual mythology. The attention to detail regarding Irish folklore seems more complimentary than with most such fantasy films. The leprechuans are depicted as generally benign, but full tricks as they are often described in the lore, and while the banshee and the Cóiste Bodhar are portrayed in a frightful menacing fashion they are just doing the jobs they are assigned in the myths as opposed to be purposefully evil as many films would depict. Of course this faithfulness to the folklore is likely due to the fact the books this movie was based on were written by a woman of Irish descent.

Another thing I miss from the days of films like this is the spirited inclusion of music and songs played and sung by characters in the film. Even with the animated film genre, the animated musical seems to be sadly fading out of fashion. One of my favorite parts of this movie is when Darby is down in the dwelling of the leprechauns playing his fiddle as the leprechauns merrily dance about. The special effects in this movie might be a bit cheesy by today's standards, but to be honest I kind of prefer them as the cheesiness actually seems to do more for portraying the true essence of fantasy than much of the gilded glamorous special effects used by the mainstream today.

Of course I think my most favorite thing about this movie is the wily battle of wits between Darby and the Leprechaun King. It's like a game of cat and mouse between those two, and me being a pretty shifty wily character myself I always enjoy a tricky battle of brains to an overhyped cliche battle of brawns. The happy ending of this story is even due to a clever trick. This movie's humor is another highlight. Going back to what I said about this story being well-written, the comedy in this film is also well-written as it relies on intelligent wit and whimsy. The humor this movie displays is the kind I like the best as it's the type of comedy you have to think about in order to get. It is humor for the intellectual thinking mind, and not just senseless dumb shit that any dumbshit can laugh at because it's obvious and gratuitous.

So in closing, "Darby O'Gill and the Little People" is both an oldie and a goodie. It's the full package of good story, good humor, fine music, and high spirits...and I don't mean the alcholic type.
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