Great is a 28-minute animated film released in 1975, telling a humorous version of the life of Isambard Kingdom Brunel. It was directed by Bob Godfrey, produced by Grantstern Films and distributed by British Lion.
Great won the Academy Award for Animated Short Film at the 48th Academy Awards in March 1976. Great was the first British animated film to win an Academy Award, and also won the BAFTA award for Best Animated Film in 1976.
The film recounts the life and works of the 19th century British civil engineer and architect Isambard Kingdom Brunel in a way that is affectionate while often tongue-in-cheek. The narrator, voiced by Harry Fowler, explains the triumphs and setbacks of Brunel's career, comparing him to Archimedes, Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein. Richard Briers provides the voice of Brunel. There are numerous songs in the film, including "Get a big top hat if you want to get ahead". Great is primarily an animated film, although it is mixed media, combining some live action sequences with the animation.
In an interview with The Guardian in April 2001, Bob Godfrey explained how the film came about:
I'd been reading a book about Brunel so I asked British Lion, who backed Kama Sutra [Kama Sutra Rides Again, his Academy Award nominated 1971 animated short], if I could have some money to make a half-hour cartoon about a Victorian engineer. Yes, they said, here's £20,000. They thought the sun shone out of my arse at the time. They'd have given me money to animate a toilet if I'd asked them.
Great was not released on home video formats such as VHS, with the official website of The Bob Godfrey Collection stating that this was due to the film's copyright status. The film is available as a Digital Download as of January 2017.
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