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Western Animation / The Wind in the Willows (1983)

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The Wind in the Willows is a 1983 Stop Motion Animated Adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's classic novel. Produced by Cosgrove Hall Films for Thames Television, it was first aired on ITV in Great Britain on the 27th of December 1983. Internationally, it was released in cinemas, distributed by The Cannon Group in North America and by Communications and Entertainment Limited (CEL) in Oceania. It was well-received by critics and audiences alike, which resulted in it getting a television series by Thames Television and a sequel, the latter of the two this time focusing on Mr. Toad.

Followed by A Tale of Two Toads and Oh, Mr. Toad.


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The film provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Adaptational Badass: Badger, while always a stonecold but friendly badass, in this version fights the weasels with his bare hands. He brings his blunderbuss only for a warning shot. When the weasels take over Toad Hall, instead of simply overpowering him, they have to sneak up and hit him from behind with a cudgel.
  • Adaptation Expansion: After the film was a four season TV show and another film.
  • Adaptational Villainy: In the novel, the weasels are cowards who run and only appear in the third act. Here they have a greater presence, and manipulate, steal from, menace, and even attack whoever they can. In a case of Adaptational Badass as well, they stand and fight when the main characters come to take Toad Hall back. Also unlike their book counterparts they aren't "tamed" since in the subsequent TV show they make regular attempts to either kidnap Toad for ransom or con him out of Toad Hall (though they get the occasional Pet the Dog moment).
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  • Adaptational Wimp: Toad, very very much. He doesn't even fight the chief like in the book, he just hangs on the chandelier and falls on him.
  • Adapted Out: The character Otter, and the chapters The Further Adventures of Toad, Wayfarers All, and ''The Piper at the Gates of Dawn'' were all left out of the film, but subverted by the TV series in which Otter is a main character and all three chapters were adapted as episodes
    • It is not shown how Toad escaped from his bedroom.
  • Animated Adaptation: Of The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.
  • Boisterous Weakling: Toad constantly compliments himself on abilities he does not have.
  • Bookends: The film starts with the opening of a brown leather-bound book and ends with the book closing at the end of the credits.
  • Catchphrase:
    • Mole: 'Bother and blow'. 'Oh my!'.
    • Rat: 'Oh no!' 'Great Heavens!'.
    • Badger: 'As my dear father used to say...' after quoting a proverb or saying.
    • Mr. Toad: 'Poop-poop'. 'Hello you fellows!'. 'Hahaha!'. 'It's the only thing!'. In the TV series, he also frequently boasts of buying 'the finest <product> that money can buy' to aid his latest craze.
  • Chandelier Swing: Toad does this during the battle at Toad hall.
  • Cool Old Guy: Badger starts to be seen as this the more the audience gets to know him
  • Crazy-Prepared: Rat always plans ahead for a picnic.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": Most, if not all, of the animal characters fall into this.
  • Drives Like Crazy: There is a spectacular montage of Toad's motor car accidents, proving that cars are his worst mania yet.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: When Mole accidentally eats poisonous mushrooms, even th Chief Weasel helps find ingredients for the antidote. When ask why he is being so nice, he says something like "A good honest dirk or cudgel is one thing, but poison...that's just wrong."
  • Felony Misdemeanor: Much like the novel and all other adaptations, Toad's sentence. Twelve months for the theft of a motor car, three years for dangerous driving, and fifteen years for cheeking the police. Unlike the source material and other versions however, this film adds a cherry on the top by stating the extra year added on to make it a twenty year sentence was because Toad was 'green'.
    Clerk: That adds up to...
    Judge: Nineteen years!
    Toad (in disbelief): Nineteen years?!
    Judge: And another year for being green. Twenty years!
  • Forbidden Zone: It is not advised to go to the Wild Wood, at least not on your own.
  • Gender Flip: The judge is female in this version.
  • He's Back:
    • Toad sees his jailbreak as this and displays it as such through singing.
    • At the Battle of Toad Hall, in a Moment of Awesome, the Chief Weasel is surprised to see that Toad is out of gaol.
  • Manchild: David Jason explained in interviews that he played Toad this way, allowing him to be likable despite his wild irresponsibility.
  • Premature Eulogy: When Toad hears that the weasels were "too strong for Badger," he is stunned and begins to tearfully eulogize Badger... before Badger shows up behind him to tell him not to.
  • Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense: Toad's character in a nutshell.
  • Scenery Porn: All the background settings are gorgeous and given lavish attention to detail.
  • Shout-Out: The film begins and ends respectively with the opening and closing of a book in live-action footage.
    • The book even has the logo of The Cannon Group on the front, and the Cosgrove Hall logo on the back. (This fact however only applies to North American releases. In European and Australian ones, the book has a Celtic and floral pattern on both covers.)
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Toad disappears when Mole tries to visit Badger in the Wild Wood, arguably the scariest sequence in the movie.
  • Tempting Fate: Rat initially believes that Toad's motor car mania will be a passing phase just like all of his other hobbies were.
    Mole: I really am worried about Toad.
    Rat: Oh, it's just another one of his passions. He'll grow out of it.
    Toad (in the distance): POOP-POOP!
    Mole and Rat both look up nervously
    Rat: I hope.
  • Verbal Tic: Whenever Badger is annoyed at something, or someone in Toad's case, expect him to growl in irritation.

The TV series provides examples of:

  • Big Eater: Toad, period. Going on an hour's journey, in his opinion, requires equipping oneself with several sandwiches, a cake or two, a few packets of biscuits, a tin or two of soup, etc, etc.
    Rat: You had three cheese sandwiches and a cream cake half an hour ago, Toad!
    Toad: Half an hour? No wonder I feel peckish!
  • Christmas Episode: "The Yuletide Entertainment" and "Tunnels and Tremors". "Fancy Dress" takes place just after Christmas, but clearly before Twelfth Night as Christmas decorations are still in place at Toad Hall.
  • Community-Threatening Construction: A season-long arc about a railway being built through the forest most of the animals called home. Luckily the ground is unstable because of all of the animals' tunnels and burrows, so it's abandoned.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Rat is given this attribute, but is often more jovial than most examples. Badger also has his moments, especially towards Toad.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Rat and Mole are the closest to each other. It's implied that Badger and Toad's deceased father were also this.
  • Impoverished Patrician: The TV show often had Toad fall for some con the Weasels cooked up so he would have to give them Toad Hall as payment.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: In some episodes, Toad's livelihood is only saved because the weasels are even more incompetent than him.
  • It's All About Me: Toad is usually guilty of this. Such as the final episode of season 4, where he insists that reading his poem to his guests is more important than helping the two weasels who were stuck down the hole, when Rat was calling for volunteers.
  • Leitmotif: Each character, e.g. Mole, Toad, has a certain musical theme.
  • Manchild: Toad's flamboyant but short-lived enthusiasm for his varied crazes are akin to a child being initially excited over a new toy, but getting bored with it pretty quickly. In addition, he is a terrible sportsman, and effectively throws tantrums when beaten or outperformed at anything.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Mr Toad does tend to be the main focus of most episodes. Most notable in season 4, where his crazes are taking attention away from the story arc about the railway.

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