Reviews


THE GUARDIAN – Peter Bradshaw

★★★★

There is something very romantic about this success story of British entrepreneurial creativity. Gerry Anderson’s “supermarionation” techniques of puppetry for TV in the 1960s gave us Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet, and influenced all sci-fi action-adventure, whether acted by humans or puppets. Anderson was also a pioneer of colour TV broadcasting. Perhaps these shows look quaint now, although arguably no quainter than they looked at the time. And there is something hypnotic about the faces, with their serene, side-to-side movement of eyeballs. What strikes you now is how eerily lifelike the models were, as if Anderson had conjured his own live-action version of the “uncanny valley”. The effects still look very good – particularly the pyrotechnics – and Anderson’s way of creating a self-enclosed universe was great. The film also pays due tribute to theme composer Barry Gray, whose punchy way with a tune came from that golden age of TV signatures, such as The Avengers and Match of the Day.


RADIO TIMES – Jeremy Aspinall

★★★★

Whether you are young or old, the impact of Gerry Anderson and his iconic TV puppet adventures will have made no doubt made an impression. This fabulous documentary charts his career from the early basic puppetry of Twizzle, Torchy the Battery Boy and western show Four Feathers Falls via more sophisticated “Supermarionation” in Supercar and Fireball XL5, and peaking with spectacular colour extravaganzas like Stingray and especially Thunderbirds (of which mogul Lew Grade said, “This is not a TV series, this is a feature film.”). Those looking for a nostalgic wallow will find plenty to enjoy here, with the now elderly puppeteers and special-effects techies reflecting on a happy history of producing some of the most popular and memorable shows on British TV – even if they were made in a lock-up in Slough. Narrated by Thunderbirds characters Lady Penelope (voiced by Anderson’s ex-wife, Sylvia) and Parker (David Graham), it’s captivatingly comprehensive, fun and brimming with anecdotes, trivia (Nicholas Parsons voiced Four Feathers’ cowboy hero Tex Tucker) and intriguing insights (was Joe 90 merely a nine-year-old brainwashed into killing enemy agents?). Special-effects guru Derek Meddings and composer of rousing scores Barry Gray are also singled out for their crucial contributions. Fans couldn’t ask for anything more.


THE DAILY MAIL – Jason Solomons

★★★★

With the opening notes of the Thunderbirds theme tune, childhood memories flood back in the fun-filled documentary Filmed in Supermarionation ★★★★, charting the creations of TV producer Gerry Anderson who made Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and Supercar. Having Parker and Lady Penelope narrate the action is a gimmick as smart as it is sweet, especially as the original voice artists (and puppets) are still around to do the words – David Graham and the redoubtable Sylvia Anderson herself. Although Gerry himself is no longer alive, director Stephen La Rivière filmed a lengthy interview with him in time and we get a definitive insight into how many of the cherished TV programmes of our youth were made.


TOTAL FILM – Neil Smith

★★★★

Gerry Anderson may have left us for that great Tracy Island in the sky, but his legacy lives on. It’s that legacy, rather than their creator, that gets its due in this lovingly assembled doc, which charts AP Films from its early days (Four Feather Falls, Supercar) and glory days (Stingray, Thunderbirds) to its decline (The Secret Service). Taking Anderson’s marionette manipulators back to their old haunts engineers lots of dewey-eyed reminiscence in a tribute that boasts more than one unlikely cameo (Nicholas Parsons, Cliff Richard).


CNET NEWS – Rich Trenholm

The documentary’s vibrant storytelling captures the vitality, innocence and sense of joy of the series themselves, especially with the inspired choice to cast Parker and Lady Penelope as the narrators — with technical explanations of filming techniques supplied by Brains, naturally. The narration scenes are genuinely funny — the film opens with Parker wondering existentially where he came from. The whole film is a delight, in fact, thanks to a mixture of cheeky reminiscences and craftily chosen clips. [More…]


STARBURST – Paul Mount

Filmed in Supermarionation is a remarkable achievement, a brilliantly considered and scrupulously researched love-letter to the work of one of the greatest innovators and storytellers of the television age. It can’t be recommended highly enough and it’s absolutely unmissable, not only for Gerry’s legion of fans and admirers but for anyone who remembers or is fascinated by the glory days of British TV and one of its most exemplary and important pioneers. Filmed in Supermarionation is, to coin a well-worn but unavoidably apt phrase, nothing less than FAB. [More…]


SCI-FI BULLETIN – Paul Simpson

10/10

La Rivière and his co-producers Andrew T. Smith and Justin Lee (whose graphics are simply brilliant) have put together the ultimate piece on these shows, and deserved the standing ovation they got from the audience at the premiere.

Verdict: Two hours of pure delight and nostalgia highly recommended to anyone with an interest in TV history, but particularly for fans of any of the Anderson shows! [More…]


CONTAINS MODERATE PERIL – Roger Edwards

Tonight I had the privilege to watch a preview of his documentary, Filmed in Supermarionation, which I believe to be the definitive history of the work of Gerry Anderson from 1957 to 1968. This insightful, meticulously researched exploration charts the rise of AP Films from its humble beginnings, to the halcyon days of Thunderbirds and the studios transition to Century 21 Productions. [More…]