Monday, February 04, 2008

The Thief and the Cobbler

Allow me to tell you a story I found intriguing, beautiful, and happily-ever-after all the way.

Once upon a time, there was a marvelous man named Richard Williams. He had much prestige from all around the world for his work in animation. Richard Williams had a dream.

He had a dream to direct, right, and animate the greatest animated film in the history of mankind! It was to be magical, beautiful, eyepopping and grand. Taken from old tales in the Arabian lore, it was a tale of young Tack, the poor cobbler, and the nameless thief, who together but quite separately saved The Golden Kingdom.

So, Richard Williams began his work in 1964. For 26 years he worked and let it lie dormant, unknown to the world. Then, in 1990, Richard's dreams began to come true. He signed a deal with Warner Brothers for his film to be distributed!

Alas, such a perfect situation was not to be. He couldn't finish the film on time, and Warner Brothers removed him from production and put it in the hands of a less able person, Fred Calvert. Fred attempted to fill in the gaps and the movie was officially released in 1991.

Horrifically, the film had been butchered. Much of the beauty and feeling was gone, replaced by cheap jokes and dialogue appreciated only by children. The movie was met with unsurprisingly little success, and was all but forgotten in subsequent years.

But the story does not end with this tragic turn. Fans and those who knew Richard's true intent for the film resolved to restore, as much as possible, The Thief and the Cobbler to its original and incredible state. The internet gathered movie buffs and collectors who submitted their rare footage of the original movie to one project. It included everything from complete movie sequences to simply storyboards that never even had a chance to be animated.

After much work and time, the movie was complete. Released on the net for all to see it the way it was meant, there was rejoicing in the streets! Well, not exactly...most of the world had never even been introduced to this masterwork of Richard Williams's.

I saw the released version as a child. I was satisfied with it, not knowing or caring that it was simply a mangled version of what it should be. Today I watched the REAL Thief and the Cobbler on Google Video. My eyes practically popped out of my head at the beautiful animation and tender characters. For anyone who watches it, pay careful attention to the checkered halls in the castle. It's a delicious illusion just to watch it. And the climax of the movie is very near the end, with the One Eye army's hellish war machine. Scary as anything you'll ever see, and yet terribly beautiful in its own right. I beg you not to miss this treat.

Let it be known that this movie is out there! I've included the link to the full film. Although sometimes the storyboard parts rob from the mood, you'll get used to it. If you've ever seen the officially released version, you MUST see this one. Don't miss it.

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