Friday, May 24, 2013

The Thief and the Cobbler

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! come here often?

The Thief and the Cobbler – 5 out of 5

There’s never been an animated movie like The Thief and the Cobbler. The film began its production in 1964 and ultimately became creator Richard Williams’ sole reason for living--just like how extreme self-loathing and lost Spanish treasure is my sole reason for living. He dreamed of creating the greatest animated film of all time. It ended up becoming a sort of golden idol for young and hungry animators and animation enthusiast due to its beyond impressive presentation…but, in nearly every sense of the word, Williams’ dream project was never actually completed.

The cobbler lives in a desert city...and he somehow still remains pale.

The Thief and the Cobbler tells the story of Golden City, a paradise ruled by King Nod (voiced by Anthony Quayle) where a prophecy states that if the three golden spheres that adorn the highest minaret were to ever be lost the city would fall to a race of one-eyed monsters…but it would be saved by a simple man living a simple life. In comes the cobbler Tack (who is, for the most part, mute but has a single line provided by Sean Connery) ends up quickly rubbing the King’s Vizier; Zigzag (voiced by Vincent Price), the wrong way and ends up imprisoned. Meanwhile, a hapless thief gets his hands on the three golden balls only to lose them to Zigzag—who then uses them to blackmail the king so he could marry the king’s daughter; Princess Yum Yum (At this point, I am fully aware of how insane this movie sounds). After Nod refuses, Zigzag seeks out the prophesied one-eyed army and offers up his serves and the three golden balls in order to destroy Golden City and claim Yum Yum as his wife. Desperate to protect his kingdom, King Nod sends Yum Yum and Tack to seek the counsel of a great witch and, hopefully, stop the one-eyed army from laying waste to their city.

Meanwhile, a bunch of spectators below are now clamoring for the army to destroy
their city because they all made the mistake of looking up and discovering that
the thief doesn't wear anything underneath those robes.

Despite the film being about an unlikely hero, The Thief and the Cobbler is basically a tragedy. The film holds the record for the longest production as it took 28 years before any semblance of an edit would end up making it on the market (Fun Fact: Vincent Price recorded his dialogue for the Vizier in 1968 but the film wouldn't be released in any form until 1993—a full 25 years after recording and the same year we lost Price). Williams, in order to craft his masterpiece, would end up having to finance most of the film himself and, as the decades started to pile up, Williams would ultimately lose control of the film and it found its way to Miramax. There it was heavily edited, re-titled Arabian Knight, and ended up getting a limited theater release where it only grossed about $300,000 dollars—after costing nearly 24 million to make.  (A whole bunch of other misadventures befell the production in between as well.  You can read about it here on the film's Wikipedia...and then edit to say that you are now the owner of the film.)

Go ahead, compare it to Aladdin.  But Aladdin didn't have Vincent
"Fucking" Price in it.

However, in 2006, an animator, artist and a huge fan of Williams’ work; Garrett Gilchrist, ended up starting a non-profit restoration project that, hopefully, would bring The Thief and the Cobbler the closest it will ever be to the masterpiece it was destined to become. Gilchrist (his last name sounds like a Germany swear word) would recruit most of the people who had originally worked on the film (except Williams, he no longer wants anything to do with the project apparently) and grabbed all available sources he could get his hands on to put together what would be known as The Recobbled Cut.

Okay, you know your movie has a good bad guy when he sits on a throne of
pale skinned, big breasted women.

Gilchrist would use original, grainy footage of the first edit, high quality DVD sequences from the Arabian Knight Japanese release and would even utilize pencil drawings and storyboards to help and get the vision Williams had. In 2006, he released what he called “Mark 2” of The Recobbled Cut and then in 2008 he unleashed a further reconstructed and restored version called “Mark 3”—yes, it’s pretty much like Iron Man’s suits here, people. Gilchrist even plans on releasing a “Mark 4” sometime this year. I watched the “Mark 3” version.

Being a cobbler involves a lot of drinking and partying, I assume.

Here is the army out to destroy your preconceived notions
that 2D animation was lame.
 First off, the animation is the reason for going to the ball on this one. It is nearly capable of liquefying your brain and exploding your eyeballs because it is so breath-takingly awesome. And to make matters even more astounding is the fact that it is entirely 2D hand drawn animation and it looks like it was freakin’ 3D animation done on a computer. The way the characters move, the complex chase sequences, the backgrounds, the insane level of detail are enough to make a person fall to their knees and think that they’ve just seen the face of God…in animated form. Even in the film’s rawest constructs (like the fact that storyboards and pencil sketches are edited into the “Mark 3” edit) the film’s narrative comes off complete and it doesn’t make the film from look poor or amateur. You can see the beauty that Williams was going for even in the simplest pencil scratches.

These rough sketches were so good, they jumped out of my TV and made my doodles
from my freshmen year chemistry class notebook its bitch.

It’s hard to really put into words properly how truly unbelievable the animation is in this wondrous work. The stills that I post with my reviews can’t encapsulate the scale this film is done on (but my epic comedy work in the captions will perfectly encapsulate how unfunny I am!). So, enjoy this clip…


I know right?  That's fucking awesome!

My girlfriend wants to paint the living room...and this movie just gave me the
inspiration for the final look it will have!

The only real downside the film has is the fact its story and plot are incredibly minimal and are more in the shallow end of the pool. The story is one we’ve heard over and over again and is your basic “a common man rises to be a hero.” Nothing wrong with that…except when you take into consideration the epic, galaxy-sized grandeur that is the animation. The animation is such that it takes the passable story and non-complicated plot and makes them look even simpler and paltry in comparison. I need to emphasize that I didn’t think the story was bad, it’s just the animation takes center stage and steals the show to such an extent that the story and plot look like they were just written quickly on a soiled napkin in lieu of an actual script.

I have no caption for this...just look at that detail!

The Thief and the Cobbler is a film that I’ve only heard about for years and have seen small clips here and there. This was actually my first time experiencing the glory in its entirety (or close to its entirety it will ever see), with much thanks to the internet and the tireless efforts of Garrett Gilchrist. To sum up using a descriptive I never use to describe a film; this movie is magical. Take every animated movie you’ve seen from Disney, Dreamwork, Pixar and all those dollar generic animated movies you see on the budget shelf at your local Walmart and Family Video and multiply those by infinity and maybe you’ll come close to the artistry that is The Thief and the Cobbler. While I’m not saying those other companies' films are bad, it’s just that their animation—even with the aid of a computer—can't hold a candle to the animation that is depicted in this film. In fact, The Thief and the Cobbler stole their candle-holding hands and snapped them off because it would have been an insult if they even attempt to hold that candle.

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