Lemuel Gulliver (Kerwin Matthews) is a hardworking but not very wealthy doctor who wants to make a success of himself in order to provide for his betrothed, Elizabeth (June Thorburn).
Leaving his home in Wapping (London), Gulliver takes a position as a ship’s physician but doesn’t realise that Elizabeth has stowed aboard the vessel to be with him.
During a storm, Gulliver is washed overboard and finds himself in the land of Lilliput, where he is a giant compared to the inhabitants.
Gulliver assists in the romance of two minuscule lovers, Gwendolyn (Jo Morrow) and Reldresal (Lee Patterson), and pokes his nose into a conflict between the Emperor of Lilliput and his cousin the King of Blefuscu (both played by Basil Sydney).
When the dispute – over which end of an egg should be cracked before eating – escalates into war, he squelches it by single-handedly dragging the entire Blefuscu fleet out to sea.
He is rewarded for his pains, however, by being driven out of the country by the ungrateful emperor who fears the “man mountain” will become more important than him.
Gulliver next finds himself in Brobdingnag, where he is the tiny one (along with Elizabeth, with whom he is fortuitously reunited) in a world of 60-foot titans.
Treated as toys by the Brobdingnagian king (Grégoire Aslan), and accused of witchcraft by royal sorcerer Makovan (Charles Lloyd Pack), Gulliver and Elizabeth escape back to England with the help of a young Brobdingnagian girl, Glumdalclitch (Sherri Alberoni).
Special effects legend Ray Harryhausen delivers a whole host of excellent special effects utilising hundreds of travelling mattes and some very convincing forced perspective to achieve marvellous results – all delivered as “SuperDynamation”.
But those looking for lots of Harryhausen’s trademark stop motion work will have to settle for just a cool animated crocodile (with which Gulliver battles), a mini menagerie, and a rather moth-eaten looking squirrel.
It’s a timeless tale with a wonderful cast, stunning visuals, and plenty of satire about politics, imperialism, and human nature.
The musical score is by Bernard Herrmann.
The film was shot in England and Spain, with the classic scene in which Gulliver is pinned to the beach by swarms of Lilliputians filmed on the beach at S’Agaró on Spain’s Costa Brava.
Dr Lemuel Gulliver
Emperor of Lilliput/King of Blefuscu
Charles Lloyd Pack
Queen of Brobdingnag
Empress of Lilliput
Minister of Lilliput