The Film Duration of the Great Mouse Detective
By Brina

 

Not by running time, which is 74 minutes, I meant how long did this adventure go by in hours, minutes, seconds...and yes, days!  Fans often pondered this from the events within the film, and one would have to really pay close attention to the dialogue and time itself to really discover just how long the story went from start to finish. Here is mine for kicks and giggles.

By speculation, the duration of the film took three days.  The start of it began on Saturday, June 19, 1897 in the evening hours and ended on Monday, June 21, again at evening hours.  Since the film first begins with the Flaversham's, June 19 is considered Olivia's official birthday by fans.  Her age has been argued at eight, nine, or ten.  Going by the age of the voice actress, Susanne Pollatschek, who was eight years old at the time of voice recording, Olivia could be seven turning eight or eight turning nine.  Pick a number! :)

Hiram Flaversham must have closed his toy shop for Olivia's birthday by around 8 p.m. due to how dark it appeared outside.  This is supposed to be a summer month, and it usually gets darker later.  The time, however, will later fool us, and I'll explain when.  After Hiram's abduction by Fidget, Olivia goes off to find help and gets lost in the streets.  Who knows how long she was wandering the streets and how long it took before Dawson finds her crying in a discarded boot. Now, Fidget has taken off with Hiram and I'm certain he did not go follow Olivia or even see her leave to get help.   A plot hole will later appear with this.

Dawson and Olivia soon reach Basil's flat on Baker Street.  Mrs. Judson bustles and fusses to make them (Olivia mostly) comfy before their host arrives.  During this scene in the flat, I looked around to find a clock and discovered it was only 7 p.m.   Unless the clock is broken, and I highly doubt that, it most definitely had to be later by the amount of time wasted by Olivia roaming the streets after her father's abduction!

Once Basil decides to listen to the girl's story, he proceeds to tell them about Ratigan and the viewers are soon taken to his lair where we see the professor himself talking to Hiram and telling him to finish up the robot before the Queen's ceremony.   Ratigan then sends Fidget off to go shopping to collect the items he needs for his plan, items located at a human toy shop.  We are then treated to "The World's Greatest Criminal Mind," the death of Bartholomew by Felicia eating him, and then we cut back to Basil finishing his conversation to Olivia and Dawson.

Here's the plot hole I have yet to figure out.  In a pacing manner, Basil begins to think over what Ratigan would want with a toy maker.  Olivia follows him and pauses at the window to see Fidget hanging upside down and looking in at her.  Now, Fidget needed to be there to begin a hot trail, but it's never explained how he got there and why.  Fidget would never know to go to Basil's flat, especially when he's already got a job to do with Ratigan's shopping list.  Fidget loses his hat in this scene, a crucial item for Toby to later sniff and pick up his trail all the way to the human toy shop.

Next, we move on with Toby and to the human's toy shop, Olivia is abducted by Fidget and taken to Ratigan.  He drops the shopping list and Dawson retrieves it, yet another crucial item for Basil to use against his enemies.  Does anyone want to guess the time by now?  It has to be very late, at least after 9 at night if it is still considered the same night.  But, let's move on.  Basil and Dawson return to Baker Street with Fidget's dropped list to discover its whereabouts with a little bit of chemistry.  We soon get to a disguised Basil and Dawson heading to the Rat Trap by the docks, sit through the song and dance routine of "Let Me Be Good to You" and take off to find Ratigan's lair.

Ratigan soon gets the upper hand by tricking Basil and the two are placed in the "overkill" rat trap while the professor takes off to Buckingham Palace in his flying dirigible.  Now, I have to guess the song playing on the record, "Goodbye So Soon" is a mere two to three minutes long, meaning it had to stop by almost 9:30, but not quite.  Basil gets Dawson and himself free from the trap, rescues Olivia and the three sprint off as quickly as they can to stop the assassination at Buckingham Palace.

In record time, the three arrive just as Fidget is about to toss Queen Moustoria over the ledge at a very hungry Felicia.  Ratigan's ridiculous speech could only be a mere five minutes left. Basil takes over the controls of the Queen robot from Hiram, ruins the professor's scheme and chaos ensues.  In the heat of it all, Fidget snatches Olivia and takes off with Ratigan threatening to kill her if they follow them.

This starts the chase on Ratigan's dirigible and Basil's makeshift balloon all around the cloudy skies of London.  The last destination is crashing directly into the clock of Big Ben.  I can't keep track of how long the final showdown occurred, just that it seemed longer than ten minutes.  That means it had to be long after 10 p.m., and yet that is the crucial time when the clock strikes and knocks Ratigan off to his death.   This is why the time must have been very slow during this film, or the characters moved extremely fast to reach that exact moment for the clock to bong right then and there.

The clock strikes 10, Ratigan falls along with Basil, but the latter rescues himself by pedaling back up with the propeller from Ratigan's dirigible.  The rest of the night is spent patching up Basil's wounds while Olivia and Hiram spend a night at a nearby inn, or at a spare room at Basil's flat.  Take your pick.  Fans have assumed Basil was hospitalized for one night due to the severity of his condition.  It could have happened, in fact, anything could have happened after the Big Ben scene faded and the next view is of the newspaper of the Queen thanking Basil and Dawson at Buckingham Palace.   The newspaper date reads Monday, June 21, proving Sunday the 20th was spent with a bit of recuperation and the official ceremony with the Queen.

At night time again, (who knows the exact time here!) of June 21, Hiram is checking his watch and telling Olivia they have to go before they miss their train.  Just how far was his toy shop from Baker Street? One needs to guess the two are probably leaving London to find safer lodging, and this is probably another reason why Olivia hugs Basil in this scene.  Knowing she may never see him again, the moment was right for such a sentiment.

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I would now like to recommend reading a very well-written essay by Diane N. Tran who brilliantly studied the film as best as one could. She even found the change in days (Saturday to Sunday) in a different spot than I.  You'd be surprised at where the change in days occurs, but it seems the most accurate due to some of the dialogue and that blasted rushing or slowing of time!

Diane's "Dating the Disney Film" Second Edition

 

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