Being absent from class on the days that contained movie watching, I was forced, in my own time, to
watch a recent made-for-TV-movie. Understanding that fact, I just knew it would be the best movie I'd ever
seen. I was literally jumping for joy at the idea of spending two hours watching a taped version.
That joy was made ever the more joyous when I learned that the made-for-TV-movie was Gulliver's Travels,
a long, classic novel in which a man leaves to sail the seas, returning utterly insane. He tells first of
tiny people, then of gigantic people, and then of a people composed of horses and a caveman-like tribe of
"Yahoos." The book is almost entirely composed of Gulliver recounting these "journeys," but apparently the
author, Jonathan Swift, remained sober enough to weave in a half-assed romance between Gulliver and his
wife. Swift is known for other works of classic literature, for example his 1729 "A Modest Proposal" in which
he suggested that unwanted newborn babies would make quite tasty meals, providing a plethora of nicely-detailed
recipes and ideas for the preparation and presentation of those oh-so-tender infants.
Without a doubt, Swift was a completely sane, brilliant, and exciting author. "Surely the made-for-TV-movie
version of one of Jonathan Swift's novels will change my life forever," I thought as I popped the dusty VHS tape
into my VCR.
After thirty seconds of unbearable waiting, the tape began to play. My excitement and utter extacy were almost
too much to hande as the snowy screen revealed to me that the movie was aired on NBC and starred a gray-haired
Ted Danson as Gulliver. I remained perfectly quiet and still throughout the whole film (even the commercials),
although apparently someone made an inspirational attempt at removing them. I stared, mesmerized, at the screen.
I dared not blink or breathe too loudly, believing I might miss a valuable millisecond of this movie, this wondrous
made-for-television version of an ancient novel written by an insane man. I watched the whole thing, inserting the second
tape as quickly as possible so as not to "ruin the mood," so to speak. I watched it all, to the very end.
I watched in awe as Ted Danson, Gulliver, attempted a thing called "acting." Truthfully it seemed he was
having a rather hard time -- perhaps his excessively long, tree-huggeresque hair impaired his abilities. I watched
as Gulliver recounted meeting the Lilliputians, a society of very tiny people, evidently with appropriately-sized
brains as they were constantly making war over nothing. I watched as Gulliver set sail and washed ashore in the
land of Brobdingnag, where the people were the exact opposite of the teeny, quarrelsome Lilliputians --
they were giants. This plot twist was so unexpected that I nearly swallowed my own tongue whilst gasping in
surprise. The giants were rather noble; their leader apparently obsessed with small people, such as Gulliver, as a
form of entertainment. Unfortunately, Gulliver told these semicultured people the ways of his kind, and was eventually
driven away partly because of a jealous (and very angry) circus midget. He set sail again and came upon a floating island
in the sky inhabited by the Laputa, a human-sized people obsessed with mathematics and music. They all strived to be
"brilliant" and "wise," but unfortunately their ideas of those adjectives were idiocy and whimsy. Those who
weren't at least somewhat mentally defective were shunned by the Laputa. The king of their society was a fat man
who spent his days resting and "thinking," which I believe involved some sort of mind-altering substances. He, like
the Lilliputians, was often at war, although this king had a better reason to hate his enemy. It was his wife.
Gulliver got caught up in the battle and, somehow, fell off the island.
After a long period at sea, he washed up in the land of Houyhnhnm where he first encountered primitive men called
Yahoos. They were somehow constantly covered in clay and spoke in a language of grunts. However, the Yahoos weren't the
only ones on the island, as the main, ruling race of the land were horses. Yes, horses. While watching this part of the video,
my childhood fantasies of owning a pony were revived, and my eyes became moist with happy memories. However, there is
no way I'll ever own a horse like the ones of Houyhnhnm, for those horses were highly intelligent, reasonable, and
morally guided. One of them even learned to speak to Gulliver. A horse is a horse, of course, of course, and no one can
talk to a horse, of course, unless, of course, unless, of course, that horse, of course, is a famous Houyhnhnm. Gulliver
is soon found to be not much better than a filthy Yahoo by these horses and must leave. He set sail for home and arrived
there, where he was put in a mental institution and then had to attend a trial to get out of the nuthouse. He was about to
be kept there indefinitely when his son showed the jurors a miniature sheep from the land of Lilliput that somehow magically survived. Apparently those jurors were moved at the thought of mini-lambchops, so they let Gulliver go home. He lived happily
ever after with his wife, son, and the tiny little sheep that was somehow rescued from the trial. He came to love his life and
his world more than anyone could ever experience.
As the movie ended I began to cry tears of happiness and joy for Gulliver, happy that he came to such a heartwarming
understanding. I also cried for Ted Danson, happy that he found work in television even at such an old age. And finally I cried for
myself. The movie was over, and as was my slice of utter heaven . Oh Jonathan Swift, made-for-TV-movies, Ted Danson and VHS
video tapes, how I miss you.