Film ID:
NEFA 20689

JUST SO STORIES: HOW THE WHALE GOT HIS THROAT

1981

Visitor Tabs

Description

This animation by South Shields-born artist Sheila Graber is based upon one of the Rudyard Kipling Just So Stories for Little Children and explains how the huge whale came to be only able to eat the smallest of things.

The film begins with each of the animals featured in Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories appearing on the screen, each within a coloured box looking at the camera. There is the rhino, leopard, camel, armadillo, crab, butterfly, cat, whale, kangaroo and elephant.

Title: Just So Stories

Title: By Rudyard Kipling

All the animals disappear except the whale who sits in water. He comes to fill the screen and, as the narrator outlines the story, he blinks.

He closes his eyes and fades, to be replaced with an image of the earth from space. The image changes again to show various corals and sea anemones at the bottom of the ocean. They part to reveal a whale called Smiler. He looks at the camera with big round eyes and smiles.

He turns his head to the left, opens his mouth and swallows firstly ‘a starfish and a gar fish’, ‘a crab and a dab’ and finally ‘a plaice and a daise’. He closes his mouth and smiles contentedly at the camera. He turns to face the opposite direction and again begins to eat. Firstly he swallows ‘the scate and his mate’ and finally ‘the mackerel, the pickerel and the really truly twisty-whirly eel’. He closes his mouth and eyes contentedly.

The camera pans along the length of the whale and, hiding under his left fin sits ‘the last small fish in all the sea’, a small stute fish called Pingle. He comes up from behind the fin and ‘swims behind the great whale's’ ear where he was safe from his huge jaws. He turns to the camera, smiles and winks. As he turns back, Smiler’s eye opens and say’s 'I’m hungry’.  

The film changes to a face on view of Smiler complaining that there isn’t anything left to eat. Pingle appears from behind and swims over his head saying ‘have you ever tasted man?’ No says Smiler as they both begin to rise towards the surface, ‘what’s it like?' ‘Nice’ says Pingo spinning over Smiler's head, his eyes following. As Pingle swims over Smiler's spout, water gushes out and blows Pingle out of the water and into the air.

A globe appears above the water spout with a red line around the equator. Pingle pushes the line to ’50 degree’s north’. The longitude line appears in black and Pingle pushes it to ’40 degrees west’. The camera moves in on the position to show a man sitting in a raft wearing a pair of canvas trousers and suspenders. A flag with an image of an anchor flies from a pole at the rear of the raft.

The man, ’a shipwrecked mariner named Mr. Henry Albert Bivvens’, holds a jack knife and whittles away on a piece of wood creating a rook for a chess set. A seagull comes into land beside him as he puts the knife away into his pocket. He then takes out a tartan cloth from his pocket and begins to play chess with the seagull. After several moves, the mariner beats the gull by forcing a check-mate.

Smiler appears in the water behind the raft. He opens his jaw wide and the raft begins to move back and forth into Smiler's mouth, the mariner legs kicking up and down in the air. Eventually both man and raft disappear down the whales throat with Smiler closing his mouth looking contented.

The film fades to show the inside of the whale's ‘warm dark inside cupboards’ with ribs and bone. Standing on his raft, the mariner rubs his chin. He begins to dance and perform a jig on the raft. Using a piece of the raft wood, he vaults onto the whales spine, hanging down from above and begins climbing as if it were a climbing frame. He drops and is caught by his suspenders on a bone. He begins to perform The Horn Pipe in mid-air before dropping down onto the raft. He continues to dance as fish and other sea creatures appear in the water beside him. They form a circle around the raft and begin to dance.

A number of the sea creatures jump out of the water and join arms with the mariner to spin and dance together. In the water, the remaining creatures dance together in pairs. On the raft, still performing the Horn Pipe, the mariner moves back and forth banging the boat against the sides of the whale. The performance comes to and end and the mariner bows as the fish and other creatures disappear back into the water.

Outside Smiler looks unwell with ‘the most terrible hiccups’. He looks down on Pingle and says ‘this man is very knobbly, what shall I do with him?’ Pingle jumps up and over his eye saying ‘tell him to come out’.

Smiler opens his jaws wide and talks down to the mariner in his stomach. As he speaks, all the fish and creatures swallowed previously come out and swim away. At the rear the ‘twisty-whirly eel’ waves at the audience.

Inside the stomach the mariner says ‘oh no’. He holds up his jack knife and winks. He points at Scotland on a map and demands to be taken back to his ‘native land’. He smiles, and begins to perform a jig spinning on the spot. Outside, Smiler is also spinning and looking unwell.

Smiler and Pingle move across the screen. From his spout, a fountain of water appears and covers the screen. The film changes to show the surface of the ocean with Smiler travelling off into the distance, water still spurting from his spout.

The film fades to show the mariner sitting on his raft still inside the whale. He looks down at his raft and stretches his suspenders. He holds up and looks at his jack knife, before plunging it into the raft.

Sitting on top of the water spout is Pingle who points into the distance. Smiler approaches a sandy beach and stops spurting from his spout. With the water gone Pingle dives back into the sea. Smiler beaches himself on the sand exhausted as Pingle comes beside him in the surf.

Smiler opens his mouth, his epiglottis moving back and forth as he asks the mariner to leave. From the back of the throat, the mariner appears pulling his raft along with him. Suddenly, he lifts the raft into the air and jams it into the whale's throat. The raft has holes in it creating a grating. He ties the raft to two of the whale's teeth using his suspenders. With the job complete, he makes is way out.

Standing in the mouth of the whale, the mariner looks proudly on his work. He points inside the whales mouth and says ‘by means of a grating I have stopped your 'ating’.  He then jigs off towards two women; his mother and the woman he is to marry.

The film cuts to the mariner wearing a kilt beside his new wife cutting the wedding cake. Beside them stands his mother. All three look up at the camera smiling, the mother wiping a tear from her eye. The film fades to shop Pingle swimming in and out of the suspenders holding the grating over Smiler’s throat.

Looking from the other side of the grating a close-up of Pingles eye. This fades to Smiler's eye looking down on his open mouth as Pingle swims out. In a line, the other fish and sea creatures swim past Smiler who watches with a smile.

The film cuts to show five whale spouts squirting water into the air. The whales' heads appears above the water and smile at the camera. They open their mouth to show their grating held in place by suspenders.

Four of the whales dive back underwater leaving one in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. The film ends with Smiler who appears alongside a montage of other Just So Stories animals, as seen at the beginning of the film.

End Credit: Music by Brenda Orwin

End Credit: Narrated by Sylvia Welsh

End Credit: Animated and Directed by Sheila Graber

End Credit: Co-produced with Marble Arch Films. Interama. Strengholt Televideo Int. BV.