Mistress Masham's Repose
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Mistress Masham's Repose is a 2000 American animated fantasy film produced by Universal Feature Animation and based on the 1946 novel of the same name by T. H. White. It was directed by Michael Wildshill and written by Wildshill, Karey Kirkpatrick, and Michael J. Wilson, and stars the voices of Anna Popplewell, Albert Finney, Jennifer Saunders, Susan Sarandon, John Mahoney, Ian McKellen, and Robin Williams. The film follows Maria, a ten-year-old orphan who lives on a derelict family estate. When she discovers a group of Lilliputians hiding in exile within the estate, Maria attempts to protect them from her wicked guardians.
Originally pitched to Walt Disney Productions in the early 1980s by producer Joe Hale during the production of The Black Cauldron, the film was cancelled when Hale and most of his production team were fired, and they decided to put the idea into production after joining Michael Wildshill Productions (later Multimedia Animation) in 1985. After being in development hell for a decade, the film was later revived and fast-tracked by Wildshill's new Universal Feature Animation studio in 1993. Hale was directing the film until 1997, in which Wildshill was announced as the new director.
Mistress Masham's Repose was released in the United States on December 20, 2000 by Universal Pictures. Upon release, it was met with positive reviews from critics, many of whom pointed to the art direction, script, Patrick Doyle's score, and faithfulness to its source material. However, while grossing $96 million worldwide on its $65 million budget, the film underperformed at the box office, forcing a writedown of $57.3 million for Universal.
Plot[edit | edit source]
Miss Maria is a ten-year-old orphan girl who lives on a large estate known as Malplaquet. Her life is not a happy one because her guardian, a fat, uncaring vicar named Mr. Hater, always leaves her in the hands of her prim, strict governess Miss Brown. The only two caring people that Maria has in her life are Miss Noakes, the household cook and a retired professor who lives out in the garden. To help herself feel better, she often takes long walks throughout the estate's grounds.
One day, while her tormentors are out of the way, Maria goes to a lake on the South Front known as the Quincunx, where she, to her delight, discovers a small island, which is inhabited by Lilliputians, or "little people". The island itself is covered blackberry bushes and nettles and there doesn't seem to be any way to cross them without any sort of pain. Maria reluctantly tries to venture through them, where she tears her skirt and gets some scratches on herself, but gets to the other side where she goes into a dome, inside, everything is so much more different, so much cleaner and somewhat geometrical. Maria then comes across a walnut shell, and finds that there is a baby in it. She picks the baby up, examining this baby in amazement. It fits in the palm of her hand, and it is incredibly small and its skin is ever so slightly mauve.
As Maria listens closely, she soon hears the soft mew of the miniature baby. Sweetened by this, she is almost entranced by the mere look and sound of the infant, but is snapped out of it by a sharp pain in her ankle. She jumps in both shock and pain, whilst making sure not to harm the baby. When she looks to see what stung her, Maria finds that it is an extremely diminutive woman, wearing a rust colored dress and holding what seems to be the tiniest harpoon in existence. Visibly fuming, the small woman begins to scream an odd language of some sort. The only understandable thing Maria heard was "Quinba Flestrina." Maria profusely tries to apologize to the small woman, and hands the baby back to her carefully, only to be jabbed again by the harpoon. Angrily, Maria sweeps up the baby, cradle and all, as well as the woman. However, not long after this, she begins to hear a buzzing, like a beehive.
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Voice cast[edit | edit source]
- Anna Popplewell as Miss Maria
- Albert Finney as Mr. Hater
- Jennifer Saunders as Miss Brown
- Susan Sarandon as Miss Noakes
- John Mahoney as the Professor
- Ian McKellen as Lord Admiral
- Robin Williams as Trapper
- Dan Castellaneta as Lloyd
- Jim Cummings as Lilliputian Schoolteacher
- Michael Wildshill as Lookout Lilliputian
- Frank Welker as Captain
Additional voices[edit | edit source]
- Steve Alterman
- David Arnott
- Tom Amundsen
- Jeff Bennett
- Thomas Brunelle
- Doug Burch
- Kate Carlin
- Catherine Cavadini
- Lanai Chapman
- Kat Cressida
- John DeMita
- Holly Dorff
- Jeff Fischer
- Aaron Fors
- Barbara Iley
- Roger L. Jackson
- Daamen Krall
- Marsha Kramer
- Melissa MacKay
- Cynthia Marion
- David McCharen
- Tracy Metro
- Jason Pace
- Patrick Pinney
- Paige Pollack
- Phil Proctor
- Evan Sabara
- Brianne Siddall
- Kath Soucie
- Nancy Truman
- Claudette Wells
- Ruth Zalduondo
Production[edit | edit source]
Development[edit | edit source]
Walt Disney Productions first attempted to develop an animated film based on Mistress Masham's Repose in the early 1980s. During the production of The Black Cauldron, producer Joe Hale and his production team were working on an adaptation of the novel. Animator Andreas Deja did some preliminary character designs for it. While Roy E. Disney supported the project shortly after the release of The Black Cauldron in 1985, then-Disney chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg disliked it. Eventually, Hale and most of the team were fired, and the project languished.
The idea for the film was later brought back by Hale and his team at Michael Wildshill's own animation studio in 1985. Many of the elements were based on the undeveloped Disney version. Initially scheduled for a 1988 release, the film would not see a release in that year. When Multimedia bought Wildshill's animation studio and renamed it Multimedia Animation in early 1988, the studio brought David Silverman to direct Mistress Masham's Repose, with Wildshill, Hale and Cynthia Marion producing it for a 1991 release. A screenplay draft was written, but the film did not go into production, and Silverman left the project in late 1989 to work on The Simpsons. In 1991, animators Ralph and Dick Zondag were hired to direct Mistress Masham's Repose. After writing the script, the film still didn't go into the production, and the Zondag brothers left next year to direct We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story for Amblimation. In 1993, Universal Pictures acquired the novel's rights to produce an animated film based on it via the newly-formed Universal Feature Animation led by Wildshill. In October 1994, a year after establishment, Universal Feature Animation announced its first animated slate, including Mistress Masham's Repose. Hale was brought to direct the film, with Karey Kirkpatrick adapting the screenplay. In November 1997, it was reported that the film had been helmed by Wildshill, who had just wrapped up work on Ama and the Mysterious Crystal.
Mistress Masham's Repose was originally rated G by the MPAA which had been done with Universal Feature Animation's previous two films Ama and Paint World, but executives at Universal found the premise too dark for a G-rated feature, so it was later re-rated PG, marking the first film produced by Universal Feature Animation to receive that rating.
Casting[edit | edit source]
Animation and design[edit | edit source]
Music[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Mistress Masham's Repose/Soundtrack
Release[edit | edit source]
Mistress Masham's Repose was originally scheduled for release in June 2000. The film was then moved forward to December 22, 2000 while The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle was instead given the slot of June 2000. However, due to "fan demand", it was released two days earlier to December 20.
Marketing[edit | edit source]
On December 25, 1999, a teaser trailer was released with Universal's previous animated feature Paint World, followed by a second trailer in front of The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas on April 28, 2000.
The marketing campaign for Mistress Masham's Repose was relatively restrained as Universal opted to heavily promote the release of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, which was released in November. Nevertheless, the film was accompanied with a promotional campaign with licensees including Burger King and Mattel. According to Universal Pictures' marketing chief Marc Shmuger, the film, along with fellow Universal releases such as The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, Cardcaptor Sakura: The Movie, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, was part of a general effort to appeal to a wider demographic of younger audiences and provide more family films to compete with Disney, which had a far larger library of family films at the time compared to Universal's largely adult-centric demographic.
Home media[edit | edit source]
The film was released on VHS and DVD on May 15, 2001. On October 26, 2010, it was re-released as a 10th anniversary edition Blu-ray/DVD combo. On March 17, 2020, it was released on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray for its 20th anniversary.
Reception[edit | edit source]
Box office[edit | edit source]
Mistress Masham's Repose was projected to gross $75-$80 million from 2,654 theaters in its opening day. It grossed $3.9 million on opening weekend ranking second behind Cast Away. Universal Feature Animation head John Cohen called these results terribly disappointing and caused the studio to rearrange their management team.
In its second weekend, the film declined by a huge margin of 64%, grossing $6.9 million and dropped to No. 6. The third weekend suffered a less severe drop declining by 11% and grossed $6.1 while remaining in sixth. It ended up earning $39,712,314 in the United States and $57,132,602 from international markets for a worldwide total of $96,844,916. Despite grossing $96.8 million over its $65 million budget, the film was deemed a box office failure due to high marketing costs of $250-$300 million and falling short of the break even point of $400 million. Director Michael Wildshill attributed the film's underperformance to poor audience reactions and releasing it on the same week as Cast Away which was more hyped up.
On August 8, 2001, the Los Angeles Times stated Universal would take a $57.3 million writedown on the film due to its expected poor performance at the box office.
Critical reception[edit | edit source]
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, Mistress Masham's Repose holds a 75% "Fresh" rating based on 154 reviews, with an average rating of 6.9/10. Its consensus states, "The studio behind Ama and the Mysterious Crystal offers a film that shows their knack for material drama and painterly detail." On Metacritic, it holds a score of 64 out of 100 based on 26 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of A– on an A+ to F scale.
Accolades[edit | edit source]
|Kids' Choice Awards||Favorite Voice From an Animated Movie||Anna Popplewell||Nominated|
Transcripts[edit | edit source]
Main[edit | edit source]
To see the main transcript of the film, click here.
Trailers[edit | edit source]
To see the transcript for the trailers of the film, click here.
See also[edit | edit source]
- Mistress Masham's Repose (video game), based on the film.