The Pied Piper (1972)

G | 90 mins | Drama | June 1972

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HISTORY

Before the title, a written statement reads: "Northern Germany/Noon--Midsummer Day--1349/Year of the Black Death." This is followed by the logo for Sagittarius Productions and "A Goodtimes Enterprises Film." The names of four of the actors appear above the title, ending "with Donovan as The Pied Piper." The end credits, which list the actors in order of appearance, lists Donovan's character simply as "Piper." Donovan's music credit reads: "Music composed and sung by." After the film, a written statement appears, stating that the Black Death ended four years later, but that the religious persecution continued "until this century." The statement ends with a brief excerpt from the 1888 poem, "The Pied Piper of Hamelin" by Robert Browning.
       A Nov 1970 Var news item reported that Sagittarius Productions, Inc. had announced plans to produce a story about the Pied Piper in association with Goodtimes Enterprises, which would star popular singer Donovan. Although the British company Hemdale Grouproup was not involved in the final film, a Dec 1970 Var news item reported that they had, at that time, plans to co-produce the Pied Piper story with Sagittarius. A Jun 1971 Var news item reported that Studio Hamburg was involved in the film’s production. According to the Var review and other contemporary sources, exteriors for The Pied Piper were shot in Rothenburg, West Germany. As noted in the film's end credits, interiors were shot in London at Lee International Studios. Jun and Jul 1971 Var news items reported that director Jacques Demy had two hundred live rats brought to Rothenburg from London, at the ... More Less

Before the title, a written statement reads: "Northern Germany/Noon--Midsummer Day--1349/Year of the Black Death." This is followed by the logo for Sagittarius Productions and "A Goodtimes Enterprises Film." The names of four of the actors appear above the title, ending "with Donovan as The Pied Piper." The end credits, which list the actors in order of appearance, lists Donovan's character simply as "Piper." Donovan's music credit reads: "Music composed and sung by." After the film, a written statement appears, stating that the Black Death ended four years later, but that the religious persecution continued "until this century." The statement ends with a brief excerpt from the 1888 poem, "The Pied Piper of Hamelin" by Robert Browning.
       A Nov 1970 Var news item reported that Sagittarius Productions, Inc. had announced plans to produce a story about the Pied Piper in association with Goodtimes Enterprises, which would star popular singer Donovan. Although the British company Hemdale Grouproup was not involved in the final film, a Dec 1970 Var news item reported that they had, at that time, plans to co-produce the Pied Piper story with Sagittarius. A Jun 1971 Var news item reported that Studio Hamburg was involved in the film’s production. According to the Var review and other contemporary sources, exteriors for The Pied Piper were shot in Rothenburg, West Germany. As noted in the film's end credits, interiors were shot in London at Lee International Studios. Jun and Jul 1971 Var news items reported that director Jacques Demy had two hundred live rats brought to Rothenburg from London, at the cost of $7,000, and had 2,000 more made of pasteboard. The Pied Piper marked the feature film debuts of Donovan and Cathryn Harrison, the daughter of actor-singer Noel Harrison and granddaughter of actor Rex Harrison.
       Several reviews noted that the film was too dark for a children’s story and the Films & Filming review reported that the character of the piper was reduced in importance in this telling of the tale. The DV review mentioned that the tale contained an anti-clerical theme and Filmfacts described the film as an "allegory with strong contemporary parallels."
       Among other films based on the Pied Piper tale are the 1903 Selig Polyscope Co. production Pied Piper of Hamlin ; the 1908 Clarendon Film Co. production Pied Piper of Hamelin , which was directed by Percy Stow; and the 1961 Hal Stanley Productions release, The Pied Piper of Hamelin , which was directed by Bretaigne Windust and starred Van Johnson (see entries below). The 1942 Twentieth Century-Fox production The Pied Piper (see above), was based on a novel by Nevil Shute, in which an Englishman leads children to safety during World War II, and only vaguely inspired by the fable. Several animated films were based on Browning’s poem and the old story, among them, a black-and-white silent cartoon by animator Walter Lantz, which was released in 1924; a thirty-minute 1981 British animation, The Pied Piper of Hamelin , which featured actor Robert Hardy as narrator; an eight-minute cartoon The Pied Piper produced by Walt Disney and released in 1933; and a television special, It’s the Pied Piper, Charlie Brown , which featured cartoon characters created by Charles M. Schulz and aired in Sep 2000. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
26 Jun 1972.
---
Daily Variety
28 Apr 1972
p. 2.
Filmfacts
1972
pp. 234-36.
Films and Filming
Mar 1973.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jan 1971.
---
Hollywood Reporter
7 May 1971
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jul 1971
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Apr 1972
p. 3, 23.
Los Angeles Examiner
19 May 1972.
---
Los Angeles Times
20 May 1972.
---
Motion Picture Herald
Jun 1972.
---
New York Times
26 May 1972
p. 16.
Saturday Review
27 May 1972.
---
The Times (London)
27 Apr 1972.
---
Variety
4 Nov 1970.
---
Variety
9 Dec 1970.
---
Variety
14 Apr 1971.
---
Variety
9 Jun 1971.
---
Variety
14 Jul 1971.
---
Variety
10 May 1972
p. 20.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Cam op
Chief elec
Processing by
Equipment
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
COSTUMES
MUSIC
[Mus score]
Arr and cond
SOUND
Sd ed
Dubbing mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Hairdressing supv
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Casting dir
Rat trainer
Prod asst
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the legend “Der Rattenfänger von Hameln” collected by Jakob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm (Germany, 1812-14) and the poem "The Pied Piper of Hamelin" by Robert Browning (London, 1849), which were based on a 13th century German legend.
SONGS
"Sailing Homeward," "People Call Me the Pied Piper" and "Bring Down--Send Up," music and lyrics by Donovan, sung by Donovan.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Pied Piper of Hamlin
Release Date:
June 1972
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: week of 20 May 1972
New York opening: 25 May 1972
Production Date:
early May--early July 1971 in Rothenburg, Germany and at Lee International Studios, London
Copyright Claimant:
Sagittarius Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
4 February 1972
Copyright Number:
LP40871
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Eastman Colour
Duration(in mins):
90
MPAA Rating:
G
Countries:
Germany, United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
23046
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1349, as the Black Plague threatens Northern Germany, a group of roving gypsy performers, led by Mattio and his pregnant wife Helga, encounter a religious pilgrim carrying a sack of relics and allow him to accompany them. That night, when a lone minstrel known as the Pied Piper appears to them, asking for shelter from the rain, they also allow him to join them. As the group approaches the gate of the walled city of Hamelin, they are ordered by guards to remain in a quarantined area for thirty days. Meanwhile, in town, Burgermaster Poppendick's household prepares for the wedding of their eleven-year-old daughter Lisa. Her intended is Franz, the wicked and arrogant son of the Baron, who has no regard for the girl and is having an affair with Lisa's mother, Frau Poppendick. Although Franz is an incompetent warrior for whom the town previously paid a ransom after he was captured, he lusts for more campaigns and plans to use Lisa’s dowry to continue waging war. His father, however, plans to use the money to build a huge cathedral, by which he hopes to curry favor with the Church, which he believes can save him from the plague. His project has been funded by exorbitant taxes that he has forced onto the citizenry, who already suffer from reduced trade due to the quarantine. Accumulating debt and unable to pinch any more money from the townspeople, the Baron acts on his advisors’ suggestion to invite the Papal Nuncio to see the half-built cathedral and ask him to underwrite part of the cost. When Lisa becomes ill with a fever days before the wedding, the Burgermaster ... +


In 1349, as the Black Plague threatens Northern Germany, a group of roving gypsy performers, led by Mattio and his pregnant wife Helga, encounter a religious pilgrim carrying a sack of relics and allow him to accompany them. That night, when a lone minstrel known as the Pied Piper appears to them, asking for shelter from the rain, they also allow him to join them. As the group approaches the gate of the walled city of Hamelin, they are ordered by guards to remain in a quarantined area for thirty days. Meanwhile, in town, Burgermaster Poppendick's household prepares for the wedding of their eleven-year-old daughter Lisa. Her intended is Franz, the wicked and arrogant son of the Baron, who has no regard for the girl and is having an affair with Lisa's mother, Frau Poppendick. Although Franz is an incompetent warrior for whom the town previously paid a ransom after he was captured, he lusts for more campaigns and plans to use Lisa’s dowry to continue waging war. His father, however, plans to use the money to build a huge cathedral, by which he hopes to curry favor with the Church, which he believes can save him from the plague. His project has been funded by exorbitant taxes that he has forced onto the citizenry, who already suffer from reduced trade due to the quarantine. Accumulating debt and unable to pinch any more money from the townspeople, the Baron acts on his advisors’ suggestion to invite the Papal Nuncio to see the half-built cathedral and ask him to underwrite part of the cost. When Lisa becomes ill with a fever days before the wedding, the Burgermaster loses patience with the Bishop and his priests, who do nothing but administer last rites. Poppendick calls for the Jewish alchemist, Melius, who diagnoses a simple fever and prescribes rest and soothing music. At that moment, the sound of the piper’s music is heard from outside the gates, and Lisa awakens from her fevered sleep, seemingly improved. When summoned to the Poppendick’s house, the piper insists that the gypsies also be allowed to enter the city, then proceeds to Lisa’s bedside, where he plays for her, causing her seemingly miraculous recovery. Later, Melius’ crippled apprentice Gavin, an artistically inclined youth who loves Lisa, presents her with a miniature portrait of herself that he painted. As she admires it, a swarm of black rats appear, one of which Gavin takes to Melius. Suspecting that rats are responsible for spreading the plague, Melius warns the town officials that action must be taken immediately to save themselves. However, when Melius’ warnings are relayed to the Baron, he considers the wedding and its consequent dowry of higher priority. When the Papal Nuncio arrives, he shows lukewarm interest in the cathedral and, instead, orders the Baron to finance the conscription of soldiers to fight on behalf of the Pope. Franz suggests that they send children as unpaid soldiers to fight and, scheming to find a “fool’s gold” to pay for his and his father’s schemes, Franz orders Melius, who is searching for an antidote for the plague, to drop all other pursuits in order to use his alchemical knowledge to make gold. The marriage takes place as planned, but at the wedding feast, rats scurry out of the wedding cake, which has been baked in the shape of the completed cathedral, and the event ends in turmoil. Although the town is overrun with rats, the Baron insists that work on the cathedral continue. Poppendick suggests fumigating and setting traps for the vermin, but the clergymen insist that prayer, processions, benedictions and flagellation are the answer. Discovering that Melius is still working on the plague antidote, Franz imprisons him in a dungeon, supplying him only with what he needs to make gold. When the Hamelin citizens approach Poppendick, demanding a solution to the rats, the burgermaster attempts to placate them with empty platitudes. As the crowd turns angry, the Piper speaks up and offers to remove the rats for the cost of a thousand guilders. Poppendick and the merchants readily agree, but after the piper plays a tune that lures all of the rats to follow him to the Weser River, where they drown, the merchants renege and offer him only fifty guilders. Experiencing a lull in their troubles, the Baron and clergymen accuse Melius of introducing the rats into the city and claim that the respite from the rats was caused by his imprisonment. The Baron and the clergymen announce a trial of Inquisition for Melius and immediately sentence him to burn at the stake at dawn. Although Helga has her baby effortlessly, the pilgrim sickens. Before dying, the pilgrim denounces his relics as fake and asks that they be burned, so that he may enter heaven. Mattio arranges to sneak Gavin into the castle to see Melius, where inside, the boy is found by Franz and thrown into the dungeon with the alchemist. Melius, who is resigned to his fate, laments that he could not find a cure and asks Gavin to promise to travel to the Netherlands to study art. During the night, the piper walks the streets playing a different tune, this time entrancing the children to follow him. Lisa awakens and slips out, as does Gavin, who sneaks past a sleeping guard. The piper leads the children out of the city, across the bridge spanning the Weser and down the road. Although Gavin follows, his weak legs cannot keep up and, after Lisa and the other children disappear into a light, he turns back. Soon after Melius’s execution, Franz discovers that his cheek bears the marks of the plague, foretelling his imminent and hideous death. Seeing him, the citizens panic and desert the town. Upon returning to the nearly evacuated city, Gavin passes Melius’ ashes to enter his empty shop. There, the gypsies find Gavin, and they leave together for Amsterdam. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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