Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb, The

UK live-action/Animated Movie (1993). Bolex Brothers/BBC Bristol/La Sept/Manga/Lumen. Pr Richard "Hutch" Hutchison. Exec pr Colin Rose. Dir Dave Borthwick. Screenplay Borthwick. Starring Deborah Collard (Tom's mother), Nick Upton (Tom's father). Voice actors Andrew Bailey, Marie Clifford, Tim Hands, Brett Lane, John Schofield, Peter Townsend, Upton, Helen Veysey, Paul Veysey (movie has no proper credits). 60 mins. Colour.

Among the most bizarre of all contributions to the cinema of Technofantasy. In an artificial-insemination plant a fly (the movie is obsessed with insects) falls into a flask; when the consequent baby is born he proves, to his parents' astonishment, to be minute, and so they name him Tom Thumb. Agents of a sinister genetic-engineering "laboratorium" raid the home and seize Tom. In the laboratorium, which is full of grotesques, Tom is subjected to painful tests. A mutant reptilian frees him so that he may, at their behest, shut down the life-support systems of many of those grotesques. The two liberators escape down a waste-disposal chute, at whose other end they find a Wainscot tribe of tiny people who live by scavenging the toxic-waste discharge. These folk kill the mutant, but Tom is adopted by their militaristic leader, Jack, a giant-killer. After many adventures, Tom is reincarnated (> Reincarnation) as a normal baby; but, as his father and mother coo over him, the father, looking up, sees their shared Shadow on the wall forms a Christian nativity grouping. A group of flies forms a circle, creating a halo for the infant Christ.

The animation used is almost exclusively stop-motion; fascinatingly, all of the (quite extensive) live action is shot using jerky camera techniques to give the sensation that it, too, is stop-motion animated (so that live actors become, in effect, Toons). There is virtually no dialogue, most communication being in the form of electronically distorted grunts and half-formed words – a stratagem that further emphasizes the impression that everything is animated. Because we are never allowed to forget that this is an animation, technical inadequacies become strengths rather than failings. The quest for meaning in the tale is less rewarding; yet overall the movie succeeds brilliantly in its aim of unsettling. [JG]

see also: Great and Small.

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.