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Animation / Willy the Sparrow

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It's a bird's life!

Willy the Sparrow (Hungarian: Vili, a veréb) is a 1989 Hungarian animated film, produced by Pannonia Film Studio, about a thoughtless boy who is turned into a sparrow so he can learn to respect the smallest of creatures.

Tropes used by the film:

  • Alcohol Is Bad
  • Artistic License – Biology: Cats do not switch from the standard "square teeth grin" to actual barrage of fangs when they find a sparrow that turns out to be their owner. Seriously, don't tell your biology teacher because it isn't true.
  • Baleful Polymorph: Willy is a human kid turned into a sparrow by a fairy. He's also briefly turned into a mouse and a crocodile. And Cipur gets turned into a human in the end.
  • Can't Hold His Liquor: Cyprus.
  • Cats Are Mean: Cili/Sissy and Krampusz/Blackie are both antagonistic cats. The former wants revenge on her owner Willy for tormenting her when he was still human, and the latter is simply pure evil, especially towards the sparrows. Sissy seams to lose this at the end, as she's friendly towards Willy once he returns to human form.
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  • Forgot I Couldn't Swim: The Sparrow Guardian turned Willy into a mouse before she remembered that she is afraid of them.
  • Furry Baldness: Cipur, the elderly sparrow has white feathers on his head, resembling an old man's descending hairline.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Willy's sister, as well as one of the female sparrows.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: As close as sparrows can get to it, anyway, but before the climactic showdown with Blackie, Red learns the hard way what a bad idea it is to pick a fight with Willy, who has been involved in such fights before as a human.
  • Humanity Ensues: When Willy is turned back, his elderly sparrow friend is also transformed into a human. Willy insists right beforehand that he wouldn't have it any other way.
  • In Another Man's Shoes: Turning into a sparrow makes Willy understand the sparrows' point of view.
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  • Karmic Transformation: After abusing animals for his own entertainment, Willy himself gets turned into a sparrow as a punishment by the Sparrow Guardian.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Willy was as a human, being mean towards Sissy and needlessly menacing sparrows with an air rifle.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: The Hungarian version's inspiring-sounding ending song has lyrics about how there are no real miracles in the world, our months and years are passing in a grey monotone, and the best you can do is to pretend that your dreams are real. In the English version, it was replaced with another song about how awesome flying is.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Krampusz, the black cat is named after the Krampus, a devil-like figure in Germanic folklore. His English name, Blackie, is a lot less frightening.
  • Our Fairies Are Different: The Sparrow Guardian is regularly referred to as a fairy in the Hungarian version.
  • Reality Ensues: Happens twice in the final act.
    • Red decides to punish Willy for allegedly screwing up their trip to the barn by taking two of his feathers and ends up fighting him over it. Willy, having been in fights before as a human, has the physical advantage, and picking a fight with him turns out to be the mistake that costs Red his position as the flock's alpha.
    • Unfortunately for Willy, his combat prowess isn't enough to save him from Blackie, a cat who is much bigger than any of the other sparrows, and all Cipur's Big Damn Heroes moment does is buy him enough time for Sparina, the Sparrow Guardian, to chase Blackie out of the barn once and for all.
  • Ship Tease: Between Willie and Amy. While not the focus of the movie it is implied that at least Amy has a crush on Willie. Examples include several compliments to Willie and being the only one who was nice enough to come and find him in the bad weather and tell him that Red and the others are very angry at him. Willie saving her life could be taken as either him just being a good kid or ship tease. There's also a bit of tease between the Sparrow Guardian and human Cipur at the end.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: Sissy, Willy's pet cat. Justified, as she is not only hunting for food, but also wants revenge on Willy for tormenting her.
  • Wisdom from the Gutter: Both played straight and subverted. Willy learns lessons from a mere bird, and bad rats in the bar tell him to drink the "Elixir of Knowledge", which is really alcohol.
  • You Dirty Rat!: The two evil rats who get Cipur drunk.


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