The Clangers 1969–1974
Writer & Narrator
Review by Ivan Bradley
.. The finest thing to come out of the small screen at any time EVER.
The animation is the sort of thing you imagine you could knock up in your kitchen table on a few long winter nights.. stop camera, nudge puppet, expose a couple more frames, nudge puppet again.. it’s jerky and quirky and utterly unsophisticated.
The Clangers themselves are basically pink knitted socks with eyes, and the props are, I believe, worked up from bits of thin brass sheeting, cardboard and Styrofoam.. with cotton wool and string, of course.
Without any visible lips to sync speech to, the Clangers just whistle and Oliver Postgate interprets what they say on the fly.
In spite of – or because of – this, the Clangers are more alive and have more personality than the most sophisticated cgi-generated and superbly voice-acted creations.
I look at the Clangers and I believe in them – they’re real, but “illustrated” rather than depicted. The Clangers are a story being told, and carry the message with the film as words on a page carry a story. You don’t accept that the ink on the paper is somehow alive, but you listen to the story behind the words. AND the storytelling is fantastic.
I look at Shrek, and I believe I’m seeing superb animation, but there’s no real character behind the glossy facade. I see the printed words asking me to accept that they are real, rather than what they tell me is real. (yes, I like Shrek)
The Clangers are comfortable childhood dreams, the cosy warmth of snuggling down with a teddy bear with no worries beyond wondering what the weather will be like tomorrow.
The clangers inhabit a cosy, surreal reality where no-one ever gets hurt and something wonderful always happens to delight the senses, even if Mother Clanger doesn’t always approve..
image.. Tiny Clanger fishing from her music-powered flying boat with a rod, line and horseshoe magnet and catching a passing “Hoot” – a baby musical horn which she takes home to discover it growing and hooting loudly enough to annoy the “grown up’ Clangers..
Time for soup, said Mother Clanger.
Watch it with someone you love.
Review by Bob the Moo
Distinctive, imaginative, unique and amusing,
Far from Earth on a distant planet live the Clangers – a strange, mousey form of alien life that sound uncannily like a load of penny whistles being played. Each episode, the Clangers face a different story on their quiet little planet – and none of them are ever straight forward. This series ran for less than 30 episodes but its influence runs deeper and it is telling that everyone knows the noise a Clanger makes and they are still sought after toys that are produced all these years later.
The stories are never that amazing but, narrated by Postgate, they have a sense of humour and unique wit that is often associated with Smallfilms cartoons and things like Magic Roundabout – it is hard to put into words but it is unmistakably British and not something that you see repeated often. The narration works wonderfully and really helps the shorts work but it is the imaginative animation that makes it stand out as one of those short animations that stay with children for decades. How I pity the generation that grow up the Saturday morning computer-generated serials that all involve robots and guns and constant action – they all look the same and do nothing to encourage imagination or invention in their minds.
The movement of the characters is jerky of course but it is not the quality that is important, rather it is the unique feel to it that works and the imaginative characters etc. It looks good and many people would be able to identify the series just by a single frame – so distinctive is it. The overall effect is a classic British animation that is funny, imaginative and distinctive with silly stories blessed with a touch of absurdist wit. Well worth seeing and well worth getting kids now to watch.