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  Dunderklumpen Follow that hobo!
Year: 1974
Director: Per Ahlin
Stars: Beppe Wolgers, Jans Wolgers, Kenneth Harvey, Jerry Sroka, Liane Curtis, Toots Thielemans, Don Scardio, Rose Marie Jun, Bill Marine, George Coe, Chuck Macgruder, Paulette Rubenstein
Genre: Musical, Comedy, Animated, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: An endearingly odd, Swedish children’s movie, Dunderklumpen mixes live action and animation. The big-nosed, baggy pants wearing title character is a magical vagabond who loves to sing and dance, even though he’s sad and lonely. One night, Dunderklumpen sneaks inside a country house, steals a sack full of toys belonging to a sleeping girl, and brings them to life as his travelling companions. His newfound friends include cowardly lion cub Lionel, the lovely Doll, harmonica-playing little bear Pellignillot, and crazy pyjama-wearing Dummy the bunny. Young Jens (Jens Wolgers) sees Dunderklumpen “kidnapping” his sister’s toys and gives chase, but is quickly swept up in their madcap adventures. His father (Beppe Wolgers), worried the boy is travelling alone, enlists help from a bumblebee detective to find him. Meanwhile, Dunderklumpen’s old adversary, One-Eye is also on his trail, keen to nab that treasure chest the magic hobo carries wherever he goes. Neither he nor Dunderklumpen know what lies inside, but they’re sure it is priceless…

Dunderklumpen features that picaresque story structure and innocent weirdness common to the Pippi Longstocking movies. Indeed, co-scripter/star Beppe Wolgers will be familiar to most viewers as Captain Ephraim Longstocking, Pippi’s dad. Those unaccustomed to the quirky detours and unhurried pace of European children’s cinema might struggle with the wayward plot, but youngsters and cult film fans should find much to enjoy. Meek, little Lionel has won quite a fan-following over the years, and the film also includes such strange cartoon creations as the Old House and Elvira Fattigan. The animated characters have a lovably scruffy, shabby quality, midway between the Disney studio’s scratchy, 1970s style and Ralph Bakshi’s raucous designs. Dunderklumpen himself isn’t a character you’re likely to find in any Hollywood children’s movie, and taps into that well of gentle surrealism and melancholy found in Swedish folktales.

The animated characters cavort against a backdrop of lush, Swedish forests and shimmering lakes, as their rambling road trip becomes an eye-catching travelogue. Also worth mentioning is the folksy/jazzy score by legendary harmonica player, Toots Thielemans who also voices Pellignillot (“What an experience!”). Like most of the movie, the lumpy oompah-pah music remains an acquired taste but if approached with an open mind, given time you just might find yourself singing along. Animator Per Ahlin lets his imagination spill out in all directions, happy to maintain the carefree spirit. He continues to produce feature-length animations for the Swedish market, none of which have received an English language release. Outside of Dunderklumpen, Ahlin remains best known for the cel animated creatures he contributed to Ronja Rövardotter (1984), one of the very finest European children’s movies.
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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