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The Pied Piper eschews the romanticism of Robert Browning's poem and returns to the grim Grimm Brothers source. Pop singer Donovan plays the 14th century piper hired by a duplicitous burgomaster (Donald Pleasence) to rid the town of Hamelin of its rats. The piper does what he's asked, but is denied the payment promised him; in revenge, he leads all of Hamelin's children out of town, never to be seen again. Though the story is a familiar one, this 1972 Pied Piper is not a kiddie movie. Director Jacques Demy's depiction of the 14th century as a muddy, backward, superstitious, disease-ridden, vermin-infested era transforms this fable into a squalid tale of revenge (incidentally, all those repulsive rodents are real). Donovan is matched by a remarkably restrained Jack Wild as the crippled boy, and John Hurt also co-stars.

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KI20479 Pied Piper DVD (1972/Donovan) $14.98 $12.95