Welcome to Monsoon-a-day.
Where I watch and review a movie a day. Or whenever I fucking feel like it.
If there was a Mount Rushmore of animation, Richard Williams wouldn’t be on there. Nor would he be in the hall of fame either. In fact, if it wasn’t for his monumentally influential work on Who Framed Roger Rabbit or his novel The Animator’s Survival Kit–which is considered the greatest book ever written on the subject of animation– his name would most likely be lost to time.
He didn’t create any iconic, long lasting characters like Walt Disney or Ub Iwerks nor did he have an instantly recognizable style like Tex Avery or Chuck Avery. He only directed two full length feature films and a handful of shorts.
Looking at his filmography without any context, he looks like a Saul Bass type title animator that kind of stumbled into feature films and then blew it twice.
If Jodorowsky’s Dune is the greatest film never made, William’s The Thief and The Cobbler is the greatest film never finished. Production started in 1964 but the film itself wouldn’t be released until 1995. It’s technically Vincent Price’s last film even though he recorded his lines all the way back in 1977. Convoluted doesn’t even begin to describe the films long production history. It’s about 5 different soap operas (to be clear, 5 American soap operas. This analogy doesn’t work with Spanish soap operas because nothing is more dramatic than a Spanish soap opera) worth of drama distilled into one film.
Besides the budgetary bullshit that was going on, one of the main problems with the film, was the fact that it was constantly going over schedule. Typical hand drawn animation is animated on twos, which means one drawing equals two frames of animation. That means 12 drawings equal 1 second of film.
Animation is hard y’all.
Now, that’s typical animation. Some take short cuts by limiting the drawings, which in term, lowers the production costs and obviously saves time and money. But that’s how you end up with the overly mocked stiff animation of things like Speed Racer.
More drawings=better fluidity of movement.
Less drawings= Speed Racer or worse.
Richard Williams would animate on ones. One drawing for every frame of film. 24 drawings a second. He set out to create the greatest goddamn animated film in history and he was going to do it one frame at a time.
But producers don’t care about art. They care about products and Williams was taking too long. So they did everything in their power to kill the film and although the film would eventually see the light of day and even though it’s a perfectly watchable film, they ultimately succeeded. The Thief and The Cobbler as it is today, is not the film Williams wanted to make. We will never his original vision for that film.
Budget cuts, missed schedules, high production costs, there were numerous reasons why it died but here’s another:
Raggedy Ann and Andy: A Musical Adventure.
This film fucking sucks.
Richard Williams was brought on at the last second as a replacement to the original director who left the project due to him getting a sudden case of the deads. The film is so bad, that the only explanation is that the original director put a hex on it. A hex that would eventually kill not only, the film but the director and the new directors career as well.
That ridiculous scenario is the only thing that got me through this film. That it exists due to voodoo witchcraft shenanigans.
Jodorowsky never made Dune because he’s certifiably insane and Williams never got to finish The Thief and The Cobbler due to black magic curses. I can live with that explanation.
Or the producers took it away from him because this film sucked so bad. We’ll never know.