For most people of the Baby Boomer generation and older, there will always only be one version of "Heidi". That would be the 1937 Allan Dwan directed version starring Shirley Temple as the irresistible little Alpine girl.


It's not memorable because it was a great film, but is notable for two bits of trivia. One - It was the center of the infamous "Heidi Bowl" in 1968 when it preempted the exciting ending a major football game between the NY Jets and Oakland Raiders. Two - it was one of several films starring Temple and Arthur Treacher (who lent his name to the fish and chips restaurant chain).


There were a few other versions produced after it, the most notable was the made-for-TV version starring Jason Robards, Jane Seymour, and Patricia Neal. The stories pretty much remain the same, save for the horror version.

This time Swiss director Alain Gsponer (pronounced spon'r) takes production to the Swiss Alps and casts a bunch of actors of whom few Americans are familiar. Anuk Steffen stars as the plucky, but irresistibly adorable mountain girl who wins the hearts of everyone who encounters her.


Aunt Dete (Anna Schinz) opens the film by bringing Heidi to her grandfather's fairly remote cabin in the Swiss Alps. Grandpa Alpohi (Bruno Ganz) initially resists but soon gives into Heidi's addictive cuteness. Meanwhile, Heidi makes friends with Peter (Quirin Agrippi) who tends to the goats for grandpa; he too falls under her adorable spell.


Things change when Aunt Dete suddenly returns and whisks Heidi off to Frankfurt to live on the estate of a wealthy family who wants her to be the companion/pet of their crippled ward Klara (Isabelle Ottmann). Klara's guardian, Fraulein Rottenmeier (Katharina Schuttler) flexes her wealth and prestige to insure that Klara enjoys her new bought friend.


Nothing much changes in the story from the Johanna Spyri 1880 novel except the use of Adelheide which is Heidi's name in a 1830 story called "Adelheide- the girl from the Alps". Lately is is refuted that Spyri simply re-wrote an older familiar tale. The biggest difference is the detailed description of the Swiss landscape, to wit the greatest attribute of Gsponer's film is the imagining of the Swiss countryside. There is a feeling of authenticity that is lacking in the previous versions.


The performances here are adequate as English is a second language to most of the cast, however, there is a lack of believable emotion with some of the characters.


"Heidi" is, as it always was, a decent film with an adorable little girl portraying and adorable little girl and overcoming obstacles of greed and indifference. (VOD)   -- GEOFF BURTON