The definitive Filmed in Supermarionation documentary has received a flurry of 4 and 5 star reviews from critics across the country following its premiere at the BFI, and theatrical release at Picture House Cinemas this weekend.
A selection of the reviews give a flavour as to what you can expect, and the nostalgia trip you will enjoy when watching the documentary.
The Guardian – 4 stars
There is something very romantic about this success story of British entrepreneurial creativity. Gerry Anderson’s “supermarionation” techniques of puppetry for TV in the 1960s gave us Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet, and influenced all sci-fi action-adventure, whether acted by humans or puppets. Anderson was also a pioneer of colour TV broadcasting. Perhaps these shows look quaint now, although arguably no quainter than they looked at the time. And there is something hypnotic about the faces, with their serene, side-to-side movement of eyeballs. What strikes you now is how eerily lifelike the models were, as if Anderson had conjured his own live-action version of the “uncanny valley”. The effects still look very good – particularly the pyrotechnics – and Anderson’s way of creating a self-enclosed universe was great. The film also pays due tribute to theme composer Barry Gray, whose punchy way with a tune came from that golden age of TV signatures, such as The Avengers and Match of the Day.
Radio Times – 4 Stars
This fabulous documentary charts his career from the early basic puppetry of Twizzle, Torchy the Battery Boy and western show Four Feather Falls via more sophisticated “Supermarionation” in Supercar and Fireball XL5, and peaking with spectacular colour extravaganzas like Stingray and especially Thunderbirds (of which mogul Lew Grade said, “This is not a TV series, this is a feature film.”). Those looking for a nostalgic wallow will find plenty to enjoy here, with the now elderly puppeteers and special-effects techies reflecting on a happy history of producing some of the most popular and memorable shows on British TV – even if they were made in a lock-up in Slough.
Narrated by Thunderbirds characters Lady Penelope (voiced by Anderson’s ex-wife, Sylvia) and Parker (David Graham), it’s captivatingly comprehensive, fun and brimming with anecdotes, trivia (Nicholas Parsons voiced Four Feathers’ cowboy hero Tex Tucker) and intriguing insights (was Joe 90 merely a nine-year-old brainwashed into killing enemy agents?). Special-effects guru Derek Meddings and composer of rousing scores Barry Gray are also singled out for their crucial contributions. Fans couldn’t ask for anything more.
Total Film – 4 stars
Gerry Anderson may have left us for that great Tracy Island in the sky, but his legacy lives on. It’s that legacy, rather than their creator, that gets its due in this lovingly assembled doc, which charts AP Films from its early days (Four Feather Falls, Supercar) and glory days (Stingray, Thunderbirds) to its decline (The Secret Service).
Starburst – 10/10
Filmed in Supermarionation is a remarkable achievement, a brilliantly considered and scrupulously researched love-letter to the work of one of the greatest innovators and storytellers of the television age. It can’t be recommended highly enough and it’s absolutely unmissable, not only for Gerry’s legion of fans and admirers but for anyone who remembers or is fascinated by the glory days of British TV and one of its most exemplary and important pioneers. Filmed in Supermarionation is, to coin a well-worn but unavoidably apt phrase, nothing less than FAB.
The reviews and ratings are a testament to the love that has gone into producing this documentary, and its producer/director Stephen La Riviere, co-producer Andrew Smith, and designer Justin T Lee are to be heartily congratulated on turning out such a wonderful documentary that captures the spirit, ingenuity, and human story of those pioneering days.
You can buy the Supermarionation documentary box set – which includes HD episodes, the hardcover Filmed in Supermarionation book and much more – with a £20 discount (£80 plus shipping) until the end of 12th October. The price returns to the full £100 on 13th October.
For more see: http://shop.gerryanderson.co.uk
or the film’s official website at: http://www.filmedinsupermarionation.com