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BY Steven D. Greydanus
The Swiss Family Robinson (1976) -Pick
Blu-ray: Miracle (2004) -Pick
Blu-ray: The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005) -Pick
Not to be
confused with the 1960 Disney film by Ken Annakin, “The Swiss
Family Robinson,” new this week on DVD in a 3-disc box set from
Image Entertainment, is one of the numerous TV series adaptations of the 1812
novel by Swiss pastor Johann David Wyss — and given the richness of Wyss’
narrative, the serialized TV approach does better justice to the original.
The 1976 Canadian TV series,
starring Chris Wiggins and Diana Leblanc, seems to be the most popular series
adaptation, and it may be the best (better, apparently, than the 1975 series
from Irwin Allen). During the 26 half-hour episodes, the family braves storms,
explores caves, finds pirate treasure, endures illness and faces predatory
cats, poisonous snakes and other dangers.
the Disney film, which omitted Wyss’ religious themes, this version allows the
Robinsons to be both religious and reverent, drawing on the Bible and
instilling moral lessons. Offering more than 10 hours of decent family
entertainment, “The Swiss Family Robinson” is well worth the price tag (about
New on Blu-ray are a pair of
well-done Disney David-and-Goliath real-life sports movies that, refreshingly,
celebrate David without demonizing Goliath — and that can be enjoyed by both
sports fans and non-fans. Both films are also available on standard DVD.
Miracle celebrates the
1980 Winter Olympics “Miracle on Ice,” in
which the upstart American ice hockey team pulled off the upset of the century
against the more skilled, indomitable Soviet squad, simply by training harder
than any team had ever trained.
The Greatest Game Ever Played, perhaps the most visually and emotionally
dynamic film ever made about a game of golf, tells the rousing story of poor,
young American caddy Francis Ouimet (Shia LaBeouf) who, at a time when golf was
a rich man’s hobby, stunned the genteel golf world and the nation by winning
the U.S. Open against the best amateur and professional player in the
resort to having the Russians sneer and swagger or belittle our team, and Greatest
Game doesn’t pillory British professional Harry Vardon (Stephen
Dillane), a top-ranked player nicknamed “the Stylist.” The Russians in Miracle
are simply the other team, and Vardon in Greatest Game even
stands up for his opponent to the odious Lord Northcliffe.
is Kurt Russell’s expertly focused, restrained performance as Herb Brooks, NCAA
coach and former Olympic hockey player. With Greatest Game, the
hook is the unique visual style that director Bill Paxton uses to express how
the game of golf feels inside the head of the golfers. Both warmly recommended.
The Swiss Family Robinson:
Some action and menace. Fine family viewing. Miracle: Recurring
sports roughness and an on-ice brawl; minor profanity and a crass expression.
Could be okay for kids. Greatest Game: A few
objectionable words; fleeting fisticuffs. Fine family viewing.