Heidi is a 1993 American two-part, three-hour television miniseries based on the classic Swiss 1880 novel of the same name by Johanna Spyri, which has sold over 50 million copies and has been adapted for film and television nearly 20 times. Heidi originally aired on the Disney Channel on July 18 and 19, 1993, and stars Noley Thornton in the title role.
Home video cover
|Based on||Heidi by Johanna Spyri|
|Written by||Jeanne Rosenberg|
|Directed by||Michael Rhodes|
|Music by||Lee Holdridge|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||2|
|Executive producer(s)||Bill McCutchen|
|Cinematography||Denis C. Lewiston|
|Editor(s)||Randy Jon Morgan|
|Running time||193 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Walt Disney Television|
|Distributor||Disney–ABC Domestic Television|
|Original network||Disney Channel|
|Original release||July 18 –|
At the beginning of part one of the miniseries, John and Adelheid are killed in a tree accident following an argument with John's father, Tobias. Their infant daughter, Heidi, survives the accident. Eight years later, Heidi is being raised by her cousin Dete in Switzerland following the death of her parents. Dete soon becomes selfish and unwilling to incur the costs of raising Heidi. Dete decides to take Heidi to live in the Alps with her grandfather. Still distraught over the death of his son, he initially resents Heidi's presence. However, as the story progresses, Heidi's innocence and charm break through her grandfather's tough exterior, and she also makes friends with a young goat herder named Peter. Later, Heidi's charmed life falls apart. Dete comes to take her away from her grandfather, placing her with a wealthy family in Frankfurt. She is enlisted as a companion for Klara, a wheelchair-bound girl who is considered an invalid by her family. Heidi manages to spread her joyous disposition in this environment as well.
In part two, three months have passed and Heidi continues to live in Frankfurt. However, she becomes very homesick. After finding Heidi sleepwalking one night, the Doctor tells Herr Sesemann that Heidi needs to be sent back to the Alps, otherwise, she will become much worse. Reluctant for her friend to leave and become lonely again, Klara agrees to let Heidi return to the Alps, in return for that Heidi promises to come back to Frankfurt after a month once she feels better. Heidi returns to the Alps and regains her energy back. During her return, she sends a letter to Klara with two requests: to come to the mountains and visit her, as well as for the doctor to check on Grandmother. Honouring her requests, Klara sends the Doctor to check up on Grandmother. However, due to her age, he is unable to care for her. Before dying, Grandmother asks to Heidi to promise to remember her and to look inside of herself. Later, Klara comes to visit Heidi while Peter gives both girls the cold shoulder and pushes Klara's wheelchair which causes it to break. While visiting the Lady of the Mountain, Heidi convinces Klara that they should both live their own lives after remembering Grandmother's final words to her and they will always be friends. Though Klara becomes upset and calls Heidi a liar and confesses that she hates her. Walking away, Heidi nearly falls off a cliff, but is rescued by Peter and Klara. Returning, Klara takes Heidi’s words to heart and finds the strength to walk again. The children then part ways, Heidi convinces Peter to go to school and continues her life with her grandfather telling him she loves him and she's finally home.
- Noley Thornton as Heidi
- Jason Robards as Grandfather Tobias
- Jane Seymour as Fraulein Rottenmeier
- Siân Phillips as Frau Sesemann
- Andrew Bicknell as Herr Herbert Sesemann
- Lexi Randall as Klara
- Edward Highmore as Herr Kandidat
- Basil Hoskins as Sebastian
- Michael Simkins as Dr Friedrich
- Jane Hazlegrove as Cousin Dette
- Benjamin Brazier as Peter
- Patricia Neal as Grandmother
- Catherine Punch as Tinette
- Daniel Flynn as John
- Annemarie Bubke as Adelheid
- John Quentin as Pastor
Release and reception
Heidi aired on the Disney Channel in two parts on July 18 and 19, 1993. Reviews of the series are generally positive, and pay special attention to the performance of Noley Thorton as Heidi. A review in the Chicago Tribune describes Thorton’s work as an “outstanding performance as the girl who has the innate ability to change people's lives.” Gary Marsh, vice president of original programming for the Disney Channel, says that Thorton did not play the typical happy, carefree role of Heidi. “She is not the happy-go-lucky, carefree waif played by Shirley Temple, who frolics through life making everybody happy. She's an orphan in a desperate search for a permanent home."
The Philadelphia Inquirer lauds the miniseries for its lavish production when compared to previous adaptations. Heidi was filmed on location in Austria, and Lee Winfrey wrote “the new Heidi is an elaborate and elegant production.”
These factors led to the show being nominated for best miniseries or TV Film in the 51st Golden Globe Awards.