The Mouse on the Mayflower
Distributed By: DreamWorks Classics
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
It always amazes me when I find a holiday cartoon special that I don't remember seeing as a kid, especially one that is by a production company whose holiday specials I loved as a child. Rankin/Bass Productions was one of those companies you could count on to deliver when it came to animated holiday specials. So it shocked and amazed me that I had never seen The Mouse on the Mayflower, a Thanksgiving cartoon special from the masters of holiday specials.
First airing in 1968, The Mouse on the Mayflower told the tale of the Pilgrims' travel to America from England aboard the Mayflower. Leaving England to seek out a land where they would not be persecuted for their religious beliefs, the Pilgrims collected as much money as they could to pay for passage and all of the possessions they could. Accompanying Captain Miles Standish (Eddie Albert) and the Pilgrims is church mouse Willum Mouse, Esquire (Tennessee Ernie Ford).
There are setbacks along the way. Not all of those sailing aboard the Mayflower are righteous and God-fearing. There are those aboard who want the Pilgrims fail in hopes of getting their hands on the Pilgrims' money. And when the ship runs afoul of a nasty storm and sustains damage, it's up to Willum to come up with an idea to save them all. Then, there is also the fact that the storm has blown the Mayflower so far off course that they are no longer traveling to Virginia, but to New England. Oh, and lets not mention the Native Americans that these new colonists come across - once again it's Willum to the rescue, bringing the two tribes together in peace and harmony.
The Mouse on the Mayflower is more than just an animated version of the Mayflower's voyage to Plymouth Rock and the Pilgrims' first Thanksgiving Day feast, it's also a love story, a tale of friendship and a lesson in humility. Although some of the history of the Pilgrim's landing is softened and altered (especially when it comes to the food served at the feast and the relations between settlers and natives), I was happy to see mention of the Mayflower Compact. I'm not at all sure that many kids even learn about the Mayflower Compact anymore. It was also nice to see that the creators of the special did include the fact that not all of the natives and the Pilgrims were happy to become friends. That's a more realistic presentation of what took place, although not wholly accurate.
Thehe Mouse on the Mayflower is a cute forty-five minute cartoon presentation aimed at children, although I found myself chuckling quite a bit at the mouse's antics and those of his new friend, the Native American mouse named Thunder. I can't believe that I never saw this special before, but I would definitely recommend it to parents of young children as an adorable way to introduce them to what Thanksgiving is all about.