The Wind in the Willows is a 1985 Animated Adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's classic novel. Produced by Rankin/Bass it was done in an animesque style similar to their adaptation of The Last Unicorn; the animation was by Wang Film Productions. The film itself was completed in 1985 but didn't air on ABC until 1987 and has the bittersweet distinction of being the last production from the Rankin/Bass studio.
Like many Rankin/Bass productions this one also boasts an All-Star Cast:
- Charles Nelson Reilly as the incorrigible Mr. Toad of Toad Hall
- Roddy McDowall as the dreamy and poetic Rat
- Eddie Bracken as the shy and modest Mole
- José Ferrer as the gruff and solitary, but kind Badger
The film provides examples of the following tropes:
- Adaptation Distillation: This probably one of the most faithful adaptations out there: the only thing it leaves out are Otter, and the visit to Mole End — instead we get a brief scene of Mole being homesick after he and Ratty leave the Wild Wood. The film even finds a clever way to include "The Piper and the Gates of Dawn" and "Wayfarers All" into the story by combing the two events and moving them near the end of the story. Ratty is wistful of how everything is changing and the Sea Rat comes along and invites him to a life of roving. Mole finds Ratty's goodbye note and proceeds to go to see Badger. Badger runs into him to enlist his help to find his nephew Portly. The two then split up. Mole under the guidance of Pan, finds Ratty who abandoned his dreams of roving when he came across Portly. Badger then runs into him and reveals he also found Toad on the riverbank, having been led to him by Pan.
Toad: Was anyone ever so modest, repentant, and saintly as Toad of Toad Hall?
- Most adaptions have Toad relapse by buying an air plane; this adaption ends with Toad after soaking up his friends praise of his humility at his banquet decides to become a Holier Than Thou philanthropist instead because only Toad could turn charity and humility into another excuse to boast.
- Adapted Out: Otter, a supporting character in the book, was left out of the film.
- Adaptation Species Change:
- In the book, Rat was an European Water Vole; here he's made into a more common garden rat.
- In the original story, Portly was an otter. Here, he's a badger.
- Bolt of Divine Retribution: During Badger's sermon to Toad, a bolt of lightning destroys the motor car outside Toad Hall.
- Cool Car: Mr. Toad's first car that he buys and then wrecks is none other than Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost.
- Cultural Translation: While the setting remains Edwardian England inspired, most of the main characters speak in Southern American accents.
- Dude Looks Like a Lady: For some odd reason, the Chief Weasel is given eyelashes and some have mistaken him for a female.
- Empathic Environment: A storm starts brewing outside Toad Hall just as Badger starts giving Toad "The Reason You Suck" Speech. Ratty lampshades it.Ratty: It's said when Badger starts preaching, he can bring the skies down. *thunder starts rumbling*
- Even Evil Has Standards: Parodied with the weasels during their Villain Song. They proceeded to make a mess of Toad Hall by hosting a never ending party but according to the Chief Weasel they are still gentlemen.Chief Weasel: Just because we're unmannerly weasels does not mean we are not gentlemen. A gentleman would never use another man's stationary, port, wine, or snooker table uninvited. So we would never, never, phone long distance without asking, right?
The Weasels: Right!
Chief Weasel: Everything else, ha-ha is certainly permissible! So...
The Weasels: Let's gobble his grub! Let's guzzle his wine! Smoke all his pipes to pieces! Let's swizzle his gin, we're going to begin a party that never ceases!
- Foreshadowing: The appearance of Pan is foreshadowed early in the film when Ratty and Mole spend the night at Badger's house.Badger: Some say there is a being, kindly, benevolent, whose heartbeat is all nature, and whose embrace protects small animals everywhere. Piper, Pan, call him what you will.
- Kangaroo Court: Toad's trial. He is guilty but there are no barristers either for the prosecution or Toad. As the clerk reads out the charges the judge replies there's no doubt to Toad's guilt and the jury finds him guilty.The Judge: The prisoner always has the benefit of the doubt, but in this case there isn't any - doubt that is.
Jury: No doubt!? Guilty!
- Related in the Adaptation: In the book, Portly was Otter's son, in this version he's Badger's nephew.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
- Badger gives a doozy of a one unto Toad in a style of fire and brimstone preacher.Badger: You knew it must come to this sooner or later. You've disregarded all the warnings we've given you, and you've gone on squandering the money your father left you. You're a disgrace to all of us and to your family! You're giving us animals a bad name in the district by your furious driving, and smashes, and rows with the police. We animals never allow our friends to make fools of themselves beyond a certain limit. This is our last effort that will bring you to reason. Change your ways now, or face the consequences! Which I promise you will not be pleasant! Repent!
- Toad gets another from the judge during the trial, only this one is in song.The Judge: Not a plausible defense, nor a frank apology! Not a crumb of true contrition have you thrown! Not a moment have you mourned, not a whit of true lament! And for that you'll solitary atone!
- Badger gives a doozy of a one unto Toad in a style of fire and brimstone preacher.
- Villain Song: "A Party That Never Ceases" by the weasels.