Stoners, Vegans and a Junky Elephant Conquer BitTorrent

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An animated Norwegian movie featuring sex, violence, stoners, a junkie elephant and even vegans, has been panned by UK critics. However, much to the dismay of the distributor, file-sharers don't agree with this assessment and have downloaded it 500,000 times, which the movie's producer thinks is 'Great!'

wikipedia englishA reviewer at The Times called it a “misanthropic and foul-mouthed movie” containing “the first graphic depiction of sexual intercourse between two CGI cartoon characters”. Hmmm, maybe not the first, but nevertheless the reviewer concludes “Like everything else in the film, a British-Norwegian co-production, it leaves a nasty taste in the mouth.”

And that was one of the kind reviews. It’s fair to say that “Free Jimmy” hasn’t been well received by the British press reviewers, even though it features voice-overs from the likes of Woody Harrelson and Simon Pegg. So, does this mean that the movie has to fade away into obscurity? Not at all.

‘Free Jimmy’ was released previously in Norwegian language and features four stoners, five vegans, three mobsters and four hunters competing to free a malnourished and circus-enslaved Russian junkie elephant. Which element the British press objected to most is debatable but what is clear, though, is that even if Fleet Street’s finest think the movie is dire, not everyone does. Time Out called it “undeniably touching, poignant” and Internet pirates seems to like the prospect of animated sex, drugs and violence too. Quite a bit in fact.

The producer of the movie, Lars Hellebust, told Dagbladet that the UK distributor, in contrast to his own feelings, was pretty upset that the movie was being heartily pirated on the Internet: “The distributor in England called and was despairing over the fact that thousands of people had downloaded it, but I just said ‘Great!'”

It seems that Lars appreciates that, even though the critics have been a bit sniffy, there are other avenues to be explored when trying to get exposure. Lars says that the more people discuss the movie, the greater its potential audience and in this case, file-sharing really can be a useful promotional tool. So just how much exposure is this movie getting on BitTorrent?

Although ‘Free Jimmy’ only came out officially in the UK on October 17th 2008, it has been available on the trackers in DVDRIP form for roughly 500 days (16 months) already, clocking up very nearly 500,000 downloads. Clearly the presence of stoners, four letter words or even vegans in a movie isn’t enough to put pirates off. Hell no. The most popular pirate version of the movie came from the one and only aXXo, and those releases are always hot, no matter what the critics say.

However, Lars is still optimistic that people will dig deep. “If they really like it they won’t be satisfied just owning a computer file, they will also buy the DVD,” he said with his fingers crossed, hoping that any of the early downloaders can remember the movie from more than 16 months ago.

An official DVD will be released in time for Christmas. Just don’t send one to the kids.

Spare a thought for ‘Anne‘, the last remaining circus elephant kept captive in the UK, and forced to work in grim conditions for the last 50 years.


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