TV and Film:The Amazing Maurice
|The Amazing Maurice|
|Broadcast Channel||Feature Film|
|Director(s)||Toby Genkel, Florian Westermann|
|Producer(s)||Julia Stuart (Sky), Emely Christians (Ulysses), Andrew Baker and Robert Chandler (Cantilever Media) and Rob Wilkins (Narrativia)|
|Annotations||Annotations for TV and Film:The Amazing Maurice|
|Preceded by||The Abominable Snow Baby|
|All data relates to the UK home release.|
The Amazing Maurice is an animated feature film adaptation of The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents, produced by Cantilever Media and Ulysses Filmproduktion for Sky Cinema, in conjunction with Narrativia.
It is the first feature film adaptation of Terry Pratchett's works and the first to be originally screened in cinemas. It’s UK premiere was at the Manchester Animation Festival, though it's first broad release in the UK was on Sky Cinema's pay television network in December 2023. It was released worldwide in early 2023.
Maurice, a streetwise cat, has the perfect money-making scam. He’s found a dumb-looking kid who plays a pipe, and his very own horde of rats – rats who are strangely educated, and literate, so Maurice can no longer think of them as “lunch”. And everyone knows the stories about rats and pipers... However, when Maurice and the rodents reach the stricken town of Bad Blintz, their little con goes down the drain. For someone there is playing a different tune. A dark, shadowy tune. Something very, very bad is waiting in the cellars. It’s not a game anymore. It’s a rat-eat-rat world down there and the educated rats must learn a new word...EVIL.
Differences from the novel
While the film is broadly faithful to the plot of the book, in order to fit the medium, the runtime and perhaps a broader (and younger) audience, many things are simplified. Here are some of the biggest changes.
- The character of Hamnpork, and much of the subplot of the rats moving on from their old ways, are not in the film. (The group embrace the Mr Bunnsy inspired search for paradise.)
- Maurice does not always hide his ability to talk. In the first scam at the start of the film, he takes a much more active role, directly talking to the village’s inhabitants about the rats and telling them “the Piper” is the solution. (One child in the crowd repeatedly points out that it’s a talking cat, establishing this is meant to be unusual, but the rest of the crowd take no notice.)
- The rat catchers make the Rat King by accident, rather than deliberately as a masterwork. It controls them directly using greed and fear, rather than subtly influencing their minds. In this version all Rat Kings have “mind power” (rather than it being implied Spider is special because eight is a magical number), though the Boss Man does a version of the “one mind is as strong as one mind [...] and eight minds are...one” speech from the book and we do see there are eight rats making up the Rat King.
- The Rat King controls a large number of rats inside a coat, scarf, hat and mittens, allowing it to masquerade as the “Boss Man” of the rat catchers. It doesn’t use the name “Spider”. When it lures in Dangerous Beans, it’s inside the Mayor’s office.
- The Mayor is more suspicious of the rat catchers, suggesting that perhaps there’s a connection between the missing food and the rats they’ve supposedly eradicated, but is intimidated by the “Boss Man” and drops this line of questioning.
- Clicky the clockwork mouse is magically alive, though this is played for laughs. It refuses to enter a trap when it’s scared, and later in the film shows up to save the day. In the finale, it is shown to have a family of clockwork mice with an alarm clock.
- The “real” Pied Piper in the film has a magic flute and lives in a cottage in the woods near Bad Blintz. Rather than arriving for a showdown with Keith, Malicia knows that his magical pipe is the only thing that can break the power of a Rat King, so they go looking for him to steal it. When he discovers them, he uses the pipe to make them walk into his oven. (In witch terms, he's gone a bit “Black Aliss”; Malicia says the situation is “so Hansel and Gretel”.) After they escape with his pipe he’s not seen again.
- The rats become part of the town of Bad Blintz, turning it into a tourist attraction as in the book, but there’s no discussion with the Mayor about how it will all work; it's just part of the happy ending.
- Much more of Malicia’s discussion of stories are about whether or not she and Keith will be a couple, and romance tropes in general. They kiss in the end, and Malicia says he “kisses rather well” during her final narration. (Both characters seem older in the film than in the book.)
As well as being implicitly set on the Discworld (we see a drawing of the Disc on A’Tuin with the turtles, and “Unseen University of Ankh-Morpork” is explicitly mentioned), there are many references to Pratchett and the Discworld novels scattered throughout the film.
A few to look for:
- Malicia has a copy of Twurp's Peerage on a lectern, and a life-sized metal statue of the Luggage (it appears to be a functional chest, perhaps made of copper).
- The fountain in Bad Blintz’s town square is a statue of a dragon coming out of a toilet; possibly a swamp dragon?
- There is a bust of Terry Pratchett in the Mayor’s office.
- In a nod to the town being in Überwald, Malicia’s chair, the Mayor’s blanket, the label on the rat poison and the town’s crest are all decorated with bats. (Rats are added to the crest at the end.)
- When he considers abandoning the rats, Maurice thinks about going to sea, having “always wanted to be a ship’s cat”. This is a nod to one of Pratchett’s unfinished books, mentioned in the afterword of The Shepherd's Crown.
- Rincewind and Twoflower turn up in Bad Blintz at the end; quite appropriate now it's a tourist attraction. Rincewind is also seen dumping rubbish in a flashback, where we see the Tower of Art. (The rest of Unseen University seems to be literally invisible.)
- Terry Pratchett’s name is on the cover of the book of the story glimpsed at the end of the film.
- Hugh Laurie as Maurice
- Emilia Clarke as Malicia Grim
- David Thewlis as Boss Man and Rat King
- Himesh Patel as Keith
- David Tennant as Dangerous Beans
- Gemma Arterton as Peaches
- Ariyon Bakare as Darktan
- Joe Sugg as Sardines
- Julie Atherton as Nourishing
- Hugh Bonneville as The Mayor
- Rob Brydon as The Pied Piper
- Peter Serafinowicz as Death
- Florian Westermann as Ratcatcher Billy
- Toby Genkel as Ratcatcher Ron
- Megan Giglia as In-Brine
- Leona Liberty as Sell-By
As well as the directors appearing as the rat-catchers, Rob Wilkins makes a cameo appearance as the Rat Pit Dog Handler, and members of the producer’s families provide voices for some of the villagers.
Several books and new covers were released to tie-in with the release of the film:
- The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents - with a new cover, plus an introduction by Rob Wilkins telling the story of how the book was imagined by Terry.
- The Unadulterated Cat - with a new cover and altered title, The Unadulterated Maurice, plus a new introduction by Rhianna Pratchett.
- Mr. Bunnsy Has An Adventure - a facsimile edition of the book from the story, as it appears in the film.
- The Amazing Maurice The Art Of The Film