Today, just for the heck of it, and because many people consider this movie a Thanksgiving tradition, we're going to take a quick look at one of my earliest childhood crushes...
(Charlotte's Web, Hanna-Barbera 1973)
Above is Fern Arable, the little farmgirl from the 1973 film, "Charlotte's Web", based on the 1952 classic children's book by E. B. White. And now, you're probably thinking two things: One, "You sure that isn't Wendy Darling from Disney's Peter Pan?" And two, "Isn't she super young?" Well, to answer your second stupid question first, like I said, this week's crush is a tribute to one of my earliest childhood crushes, that's why I'm calling this a Throwback Thursday crush. I ADORED Fern when I was little, and this movie came out before I was born, so technically she's older than me, ha. How old though, I've never been able to pinpoint. I don't think it's mentioned in the film, and I haven't read the book since I was a kid, but she does get a boyfriend by the end of the film, so at least she's old enough for that, ha.
And, yeah, Fern looks a lot like Wendy, I can't disagree there. But, there are many differences, not to mention their two very distinct voices (English actress Kathryn Beaumont played Wendy as well as Alice, while the very American Pamelyn Ferdin voiced Fern, not to mention Lucy in "A Boy Named Charlie Brown"). No matter, I had a crush on both of them, and as is usually the case with childhood crushes, I still adore them both. One of my strongest memories about Fern though, was being shown the film at the public library in my hometown. They showed it to us (whichever kids happened to be there) once in the children's section as part of their weekly kids' movie thing, and from then on, every Sunday, we requested to see it again, though they never would rerun it for some reason. Maybe I was the only one requesting it every single week, I don't remember. Oh well. They suck for not replaying it.
Now, just in case you don't remember, Charlotte's Web is the story of a little girl named Fern who raises a runt piglet named Wilbur, but then has to give him up once he's grown to another farm that will be taking him to market later on. In other words, he's going to be delicious. But, Wilbur makes friends with some animals at the new farm that work together to save his life. Well, a couple do. Mainly a spider named Charlotte, who is far more amazing than Wilbur, and a rat named Templeton who is Paul Lynde ('nuff said). Fern seems less important as the story becomes about saving Wilbur's bacon, but she visits him often and joins him at the fair, where we also get to see her budding romance with that twerp, Henry Fussy.
So, as the story of Wilbur's struggle is told, we are also getting a coming-of-age side-story about the charming, lovely, nurturing and caring animal-lover, Fern.
Fern was redesigned for a 2003 direct-to-video sequel that I have yet to purchase and watch. It's a touchy subject for me, as you can imagine. Plus, though I have liked a few of the Disney cheapquels quite a bit, that trend of direct-to-video sequels to classics mostly produced inferior schlock for a cash-in, so I don't have the highest hopes for it, and the very fact that the characters were redesigned offends me.
She was also played in live-action by Dakota Fanning in a 2006 feature film. Amazingly, I don't think I saw that one till it came to home video, and as I don't own it (yet), I don't remember it well since I haven't seen it in a while (hmm, might be on Netflix, actually...). Anyway, we all love Dakota Fanning, but my childhood animation crush wears some hard shoes to fill, and I don't remember her being anything like the Fern I grew up with. Thank goodness I own the original Hanna-Barbera film on DVD now and can pop it in whenever I want! Screw you, public library!