ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL
UK, 1974, 92 minutes Colour.
Simon Ward, Anthony Hopkins, Lisa Harrow, Brian Stirner, Freddie Jones.
Directed by Claude Whatham.
All Creatures Great and Small comes from James Herriott's books on his experiences as a Yorkshire vet from the late 30s. This pleasant film has Simon Ward as Herriot and a wonderfully cantankerous Anthony Hopkins as his partner. The attention to period detail, visually and musically, immerses us in a 30s rural town whose people and way of life we appreciate and which, we realise, is forever gone. And for animal lovers, there is quite a variety of sequences well illustrating a vet's work, including the birth of a foal. A keen sense of humour pervades the whole film and makes it a happy experience suitable for the whole family.
1. The nature of the appeal of this film? Its qualities?
2. For whom was it made? English audiences, English family audiences? overseas audiences?
3. Audience interest in this kind of biography? The world of the 1930's, England. political background, a way of life? The film's detailed presentation of sets, details in the sets, the atmosphere of this world?
4. The atmosphere of Yorkshire, its beauty, ruggedness, country and town.. way of life? The people, their accent, their manners, their outlook. their country outlook?
5. Our entering the film with James Herriot? Understanding his hopes, ambitions? The test with the horse.. his involvement in the veterinary work, the birth of the foal, his growth in friendship with the people? The lady with the dog? His relationship with Elizabeth. his awkwardness, clashes? Loneliness. the Christmas outing? Gradually settling in to a way of life different to that of London?
6. How did he change during his years in Yorkshire? What made him feel at home? His relationship with the Farnham brothers? His being accepted in the town? The significance of his discussions with Elizabeth's father. the presuppositions about country and city? His proposal and its acceptance? His relationship with Elizabeth for example at the dinner.. at the pictures, the walk, the dance?
7. How attractive a character was Elizabeth? A farm girl, her vitality at the outings. her sense of jealousy, her bringing the dog and their working on it together? The happiness of their marriage? The humour of their working on their honeymoon? The basis for a happy future life?
8. How interesting a character was Siegfried? His heritage of the veterinary surgeon's work in Yorkshire? His erratic character? His capacity for work, his old-style outlook. his inefficiency? His moodiness. changing, his skill, his growing trust in James? Their sharing their work together? His attitude towards Tristan?
9. Tristan and his outlook on life? Failing exams, wasting time and money, drinking? His being overshadowed by his older brother? His lack of ambition? What future did he have? A likeable character in himself?
10. The film's attention to detail and its presentation of animals? Audience interest and response to animals? The lady with Trickie Woo? And the garden party? The impact of the birth of the foal? The farmer and the horse struck by lightning?
11. The work of a vet and its importance? How well did the film communicate this? The love of animals and dedication to life in animals?
12. How optimistic a film? Its presentation of a settled and happy way of life in the 'Thirties? The irony of this way of life passing? Yet a film hopeful about human nature?