Imagine a movie that seemingly fuses Tim Burton at his most surreal, Disney’s Fantasia and generic 1950s American “mom and apple pie” movies into one package, and you get Dr. SeussThe 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.

drt3Last night I wandered over to the austere Photographer’s Gallery by Oxford Circus – a building that has taken the concept of white paint to its ultimate expression – for the phantasmagorial delight that was to be shown in their upstairs gallery.

The movie was made in 1953, and at its simplest is basically about a young boy who is forced to learn the piano against his will by a tyrannical tutor and has a tendency to daydream a lot. From the utopian 1950s household he is transported to a nightmare vision where a strange land is ruled by the aforementioned tutor who has a mad vision to collect 500 children (hence the 5,000 fingers of the title) who will play a gigantic piano for all time. Add in a widowed mum and a handsome manual labourer, who just happens to be a genius piano player and you have the genesis of the movie.

The movie is both brilliant, and awful in equal measures, but despite being commercial flop has become a cult classic. I was vaguely aware of the existence of the film, but had never seen it – and as part of an ongoing season, the gallery decided to have a small screening.

2831875473_14dcfba223While the scenery is monstrous and exactly what you would expect from Dr Seuss, it is the secondary characters that make the movie for me. The guards all stomping around are of a somewhat larger than average build which just adds to the terror they cause a small child, but best are the “twins”, two old men who have a long beard that has grown between them to form a link and they travel around on rollerskates, almost as a single being.

The lower dungeons are dedicated to musicians who don’t play the piano as the tutor is determined to banish all other forms of music that exist. Here, grand musical dances occur – almost a Peter and the Wolf style demonstration of what each musical instrument can do, but distorted by Dr Suess’ vision.

I think that if this movie was made today, it could be a huge hit as people are used to movies such as A Nightmare Before Christmas and The Corpse Bride. It could even work as a stage musical. As it stands, it is an odd mixture of 1950s stage musical, and a modernish Tim Burton fantasy.

A slight twist at the end of the movie makes you question whether this was all just a dream!

The film is like marmite, either you’ll love it or you’ll hate it. Unlike marmite (blugh!), I loved this film.

The original film trailer is on the IMDB website.

NEWSLETTER

Be the first to know what's on in London, and the latest news published on ianVisits.

You can unsubscribe at any time from my weekly emails.

Tagged with: ,
SUPPORT THIS WEBSITE

This website has been running now for just over a decade, and while advertising revenue contributes to funding the website, but doesn't cover the costs. That is why I have set up a facility with DonorBox where you can contribute to the costs of the website and time invested in writing and research for the news articles.

It's very similar to the way The Guardian and many smaller websites are now seeking to generate an income in the face of rising costs and declining advertising.

Whether its a one-off donation or a regular giver, every additional support goes a long way to covering the running costs of this website, and keeping you regularly topped up doses of Londony news and facts.

If you like what your read on here, then please support the website here.

Thank you

One comment
  1. Esme Fisher says:

    Tim Burton has a unique style when making his movie. I love Nightmare Before Christmas and Edward Scissorhands.:;`

Home >> News >> London Ticket Alert