"The Pied Piper Of Hamelin"
AS PLAYED BY:
In 1284, while the town of Hamelin was suffering from a rat infestation, a man dressed in pied clothing appeared, claiming to be a rat-catcher. He promised the townsmen a solution for their problem with the rats. The townsmen in turn promised to pay him for the removal of the rats. The man accepted, and played a musical pipe to lure the rats with a song into the Weser River, where all but one drowned. Despite his success, the people reneged on their promise and refused to pay the rat-catcher the full amount of money. The man left the town angrily, but vowed to return some time later, seeking revenge.
On Saint John and Paul's day while the inhabitants were in church, he played his pipe yet again, dressed in green, like a hunter, this time attracting the children of Hamelin. One hundred and thirty boys and girls followed him out of the town, where they were lured into a cave and never seen again. Depending on the version, at most three children remained behind. One of the children was lame and could not follow quickly enough, the second was deaf and followed the other children out of curiosity, and the last was blind and unable to see where they were going. These three informed the villagers of what had happened when they came out of church.
Other versions, but not the traditional ones, claim that the Piper lured the children into the river and let them drown like the rats, or led the children to a cave on Köppen Hill or Koppelberg Hill, outside of Hamelin, then killed them.
Another version relates that the Pied Piper hypnotized the children into following him to the top of Koppelberg Hill, where he took them to a mysterious land and had his wicked way, or a place called Koppenberg Mountain. This version states that the Piper returned the children after payment, or that he returned the children after the villagers paid several times the original amount of gold.
The story may reflect an historical event in which Hamelin lost its children. Theories have been proposed suggesting that the Pied Piper is a symbol of the children's death by plague or catastrophe. Other theories liken him to figures like Nicholas of Cologne, who lured away a great number of children on a disastrous Children's Crusade. A recent theory ties the departure of Hamelin's children to the Ostsiedlung, in which a number of Germans left their homes to colonize Eastern Europe.
The fact that the characters sing and speak in rhyme could mean that the town of Hamelin was under the sway of Mr. Sweet the demon at that time. (Mr. Sweet was seen in an episode of 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer' and was a 2005 inductee into the TV Crossover Hall Of Fame.)
I remember seeing this TV movie when I was a kid, years after its original presentation on the old Dumont Network. And I remember being disturbed that the crippled kid got left behind.....