The quest for the defining 'Wind in the Willows'
With many eyes trained upon stories such as The Legend of Sleepy Hollow this weekend, I was inspired to do a small tribute piece on the B-side of Disney's version. To think; The Adventures of Ichabod & Mr. Toad mainly came to comprise this format when it was decided that making two separate features wasn't budget-savvy. It's also worth a mention that this is one of my favorite stories from childhood, and even so today.
A highly-adapted format
Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows, which saw publication and release approximately 113 years ago, should definitely be a staple in furry media consumption, with record status in its sheer number of adaptations. The buddy tales of Ratty (actually a water vole), Mole, Badger, and Toad, climaxing in their joint effort to rid Toad Hall of uninvited vermin, ride the range of rework. This includes around eleven stage versions such as A.A. Milne's initial Toad Of Toad Hall, three theatrical releases to date; the Disney short, a Monty Python-friendly live action feature from 1996, and another live action offering from 2006, a veritable universe of television productions done in almost every medium, and numerous radio plays, most produced by the BBC.
As with other historically-familiar stories, it has no shortage of releases like those pictured, from Digiview Entertainment and Genius Entertainment, respectively, which are easy to overlook. Though the packaging comes across as economy, the programs themselves tend to display tighter faithfulness to the novel, surely over Disney's energetic, kid-friendly short, which shifts more focus to the impulsive Toad, discounting over half the book in the process. Admittedly, faithful versions like these will also have "slow and easy" segments, some involving "messing about in boats", and dialogue-heavy segments, giving the story variance, and likely contributing to its considerable staying power.
Like those other tales, the story continues to see reinvention to this day. One such anecdote regarding a CGI/live-action theatrical proposal from Disney that remains unproduced, involves another fan of the novel, Guillermo del Toro, whom was attached up until the time executives asked if he could give Toad a skateboard and have him say "radical dude" things. As del Toro put it, he had to reply, "It's been a pleasure."