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Western Animation / The Wind in the Willows (1995)

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The Wind in the Willows is a 1995 British Animated Adaptation of the classic 1908 novel of the same name by Kenneth Grahame. The film was directed by Dave Unwin and written by Ted Walker, and was produced by the now defunct TVC (Television Cartoons) in London.

The film incorporates live action Book Ends with Vanessa Redgrave as a grandmother (who also acts as the narrator), reading the original novel to her grandchildren as they go out for a boat trip together. The film changes into an animated setting as soon as the grandmother opens the book and stays that for most of the runtime until she closes it again.

It was well received by audiences and critics and a sequel, The Willows in Winter (1996), was made.


The fim provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Adapted Out: Rat decides to start wandering on his own, without the Sea-rat's encouragement, in this version.
  • Ascended Extra: The judge. In this adaptation he happens to be the owner of the car that gives Toad a lift in his washerwoman disguise.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Toad's behavior matches up perfectly with bipolar disorder, though the film certainly doesn't call it that.
  • Animated Adaptation: Of The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.
  • Arcadian Interlude: "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" segment was not cut out in this version.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: After Toad escapes from prison, he steals and crashes the Judge's car. After escaping the wreck, he sees a group of angry police officers come charging angrily up the hill to arrest him. Treating it like a game, he tauntingly tells them to "Catch me if you can!" The police are relentless however and chase him not only for the rest of the day but all the way to the riverbank. Cornered, the no longer laughing Toad was faced with the option of either being arrested again or jumping into the river. He chose the latter option where, thanks to his animal biology, he was alright.
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  • Bedsheet Ladder: How Toad escapes after being locked in his bedroom.
  • The Big Bad: Although the weasels, stoats and ferrets are usually grouped together as a whole, The Chief Weasel is usually given this status.
  • Book Ends: The film begins and ends with live action segments where a grandmother reads the novel to her grandchildren as they go for a boat trip on the river.
  • Break the Haughty: Toad's humiliating arrest and imprisonment, during which he attempts to starve himself to death, but decides to live after all thanks to a kind jailer's daughter and some hot toast. Not to mention being chased by the police after escaping, and all the indignity he receives for his washerwoman disguise.
  • Character Development: Just like the novel, Mole comes out of his shell, and Toad settles down to become serious and respectable by the end.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Mr. Toad, at times. "A motorcar! Poop-poop! Poop-poop!"
  • Cool Boat: It's just a punt, but Ratty's boat is beautifully painted and decorated, and there's always a picnic basket on board.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: The humans are the main antagonists for Toad for most of the movie, but after he escapes them, the weasels who took Toad Hall become the main villains the four must engage.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": All the principal characters are either this or Species Surname. (Since they only appear to have one name apiece, it's hard to tell which.)
  • Drives Like Crazy: Toad's second defining characteristic; he wrecks five cars a week, on average, and has to be locked into his room to try and dissuade him.
  • Fat Bastard: The rotund Hanging Judge who takes sadistic pleasure in sentencing Toad for a ridiculously long time.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: Toad'sprison sentence. Stealing the motor car is twelve months, while his reckless driving warrants three years and cheeking the police warrants fifteen years which adds up all together to nineteen years, which the judge then makes an even twenty.
  • Fiction500: Averted with Toad, he may be rich but as Rat points out "he's not a millionaire".
  • Fleeting Passionate Hobbies: A defining aspect of Toad.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Mole is Phlegmatic, Badger is Choleric, Toad is Sanguine and Rat is Melancholic. That said, Badger is a pretty Melancholic character as well.
  • Funny Animal: The whole cast, except for the humans that Toad interacts with.
  • Furry Confusion: Not particularly strong, but the main cast are either about the same size or bigger than the stoats and weasels.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Mole and Rat. It's implied Toad's late father and Badger were also this.
  • Idle Rich: Toad. Like in the novel, he's a deconstruction of this trope as he has way too much time to devote to whatever hobby takes his interest.
  • Large Ham: Mr. Toad is usually played as this in any adaptation, but this one takes it up to eleven thanks to Rik Mayall.
  • Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My!: Zig-zagged. Most of the animals live in burrows (albeit in very human-like comfort) and have little or no interaction with humans. Toad, on the other hand, lives in an actual house, drives cars, is put on trial in a human court, held in a human prison, and escapes by disguising himself as a human washerwoman. During his escape no one suspects that he's Mr. Toad until he actually announces it when he rides off with a barge woman's horse. And he also interacts on a more-or-less equal basis with all the other animals.
  • Loveable Rogue: Toad is considered an epitome of this. Although conceited, reckless and even kleptomaniacal at one point, he genuinely cares for his friends and shows great humility and distress upon learning of the hardships they suffer on his account.
  • Medium Blending: Most of it is animated but there are two live action segments.
  • Missing Child: There's a brief subplot of Mr. Otter's son Portly getting lost.
  • Moral Guardians: As with many Wind in the Willows adaptations, Badger, who was a friend of Toad's late father appears to be something of this for Toad. Whilst he could have easily sat back and done nothing, he intervenes on Toad's behalf and acts in the latter's best interests. Ratty and Mole also count for the same reasons.
  • Mundane Fantastic: While Toad is the only animal to have extensive interaction with humans no one seems surprised at the sight of a bipedal talking toad who wears clothes.
  • Parental Substitute: As with Moral Guardians, Badger to Toad.
  • Police Are Useless: Thoroughly averted. Although we don't see the arrest itself, the police do rightfully arrest Toad after he stole the car. When he escapes, they quickly realise that he escaped on the train and follow him in an engine of their own. If not for the kindly driver, Toad may very well have been caught then and there.
    • Later still, when Toad crashes the Judge's car, the police (who are still searching for him) are near enough to hear the crash and come rushing to the scene. Whilst some of them undoubtedly stayed to help the Judge and his driver, at least five members of the force went after Toad, chasing him for miles and miles until sunset. Toad only escaped them by jumping into the river, where the current carried him to safety.
  • Pride Before a Fall: Toad's pride is eventually his undoing; see above under Break the Haughty.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Toad's washerwoman outfit.
  • Satyrs And Fauns: The Arcadian Interlude subplot is resolved by Rat, who has visions of a satyr-like entity guiding him to Mr. Otter's Missing Child.
  • Science Is Bad: Not science, exactly, but the rush of new fads for the rich, such as automobiles and aeroplanes.
  • Snap Back: Averted, in that Ratty mentions that if Toad keeps buying all these new cars, he's eventually going to use up his whole fortune.
  • Storming the Castle: "When the Toad came home..."
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: A tiny, green-skinned washerwoman with webbed hands? Nothing odd about that!
  • Upper-Class Twit: Toad is quite rich and also rather fat-headed.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute? / Wicked Weasel: The weasels, and the related ferrets and stoats, are all nasty little crooks, sneaking into Toad Hall to take it over while Toad is in prison. They're eventually let go with a warning, though, as they promise to be good after being thrashed by Badger.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: In a humorous incident, Toad escapes prison disguised as a washerwoman with clothes from the jailer's daughter, and manages to wind up disguised on a train outrunning the police.