The Magnum Opus That Never Was: The Thief And The Cobbler

The Magnum Opus That Never Was: The Thief And The Cobbler

A celebrated director that spent 31 years creating a disastrous film.
89
views

Richard Edmund Williams is one of the most celebrated and prolific animators over the past 60 years. He worked on his first animation film back in 1957, The Little Island, being a director, writer, producer, animator on the whole project, before it was released in 1958 or 59, depending on the source. He would continue working on various live action and animated films, before he truly made it big in 1988 when he multiple credits in the animated classic Who Framed Roger Rabbit, being an animator, director, and the voice of Droopy on the feature. In 1993, five years later, The Thief and the Cobbler was released, another film directed by him. The film takes place in an Arabian city, the Golden City, led by the ever tired and senile King Nod. As the prophecy predicts, if the 3 golden balls uptop of the tallest minaret, chaos and anarchy will sweep the city. It could only be saved by the "the simplest soul with the smallest and simplest of things". From there, a cobbler named tack, and the King’s daughter, Yum Yum set out to save the city, while Grand Vizier ZigZag tries to take over the kingdom, while an invading army comes ever closer to the Golden City’s gates.

This was not loved like Roger Rabbit in the slightest. A film that I have not watched, but has been ridiculed by many, including Doug Walker/the Nostalgia Critic a few decades later, out of the 28 million dollar budget, it only made $670,000 at the box office. What might’ve been unbeknownst the moviegoers in Australia (before it arrived upon America’s shores in 95) was that it went through absolute production hell. Self-funded, he started production on it in 1964. It took 31 years before it got released, due to various setbacks, delays, and WIlliams’ involvements in other projects. Over the three decades, various names were thrown around; Sean Connery, Vincent Price, Felix Aylmer, Steven Spielberg, Anthony Quayle, and even an Arabian Prince were one way or another involved in production. Along with that, several companies were involved in production and distribution, first starting out with Williams’ own production company, Allied Filmmakers, Majestic Films, and Miramax. Artists from three different countries were all involved. It was truly Revolving Door: The Movie.

Many criticized the film for being a cheap knock-off of Aladdin; with strikingly similar plot structures, locations, and character designs, and well, that’s somewhat true. Williams’ was inspired by the novel Arabian Nights, and started coming up with the plot. And while animators came in and out of the door, two of them, Andreas Deja and Eric Goldberg found their way onto Aladdin production, being inspired by their previous project under Williams. Then, as Aladdin was released 3 years before its American release, the production focused onto copying the film that their production originally inspired.

As stated previously, the film did not do well in the slightest. Poor Richards Williams has been working in the animation field for 60 years, 31 of which were spent during the production of this film. That must drive madness into the mind of a man. Though, during production, when at one point when Warner Bros. was involved, a bunch of reels were thrown away into the trash of the company’s head of animation. An animator working there managed to save some of it; 40 minutes, in fact. This’ll become relevant later.

In 2006 a very dedicated animator fan and independent film maker by the name of Garrett Gilchrist managed to start to restore the original film. You see, Richard Williams didn’t want it to be some sort of run-of-the-mill kids film. I doubted he would’ve spent 31 years in torment to get this film developed. He saw it as his magnum opus - a more artistic film targeted towards adults. Gilchrist would make a couple more “recobbled” editions over the years, with ones in 2007 and 2013, as he gathered more and more footage, drafts, and drawings over the years. I’m assuming one of the more useful ones were the 40 minutes recovered from one head of animation’s trash. Though they aren’t 100% what Williams envisioned. Some of the music was added from the other editions, and some plot changes were made, in order to make the story make more sense, according to Gilchrist, though they don’t seem to be anything that major. Best of all, this labor of love was released for three, posted on YouTube where anyone can watch it.

I watched the Nostalgia Critic episode a few years ago, talking about Cobbler, I watched maybe the first 14 minutes before I got distracted. When I saw someone talk about it on my Tumblr feed, I decided to give it a second shot, which was well worth it. Gilchrist is a hero, and the cut is genius. The artwork is very trippy, with optical illusions, contrasting colors to the max, and constantly changing perspective. This is the best part of the movie, I’d say. Just looking at everything. When the thief and the Cobbler start chasing one another through black-and-white corridors that make your eyes question what exactly you’re looking at, it’s pretty amazing.

When the Vizier is introduced, it’s this grand event, with red carpet and celebrations, all being captured at strange 2D angles and perspectives, which you don’t really see. The tips of the shoes of the advisor roll out, and roll back in, with jewels all over it. The character design of the various trumpeters and the cronies of the Vizier are also strange.

Though what I love the most is the design of the invading army at the climax of the film. It’s all black and red, which giant machinery, mixing an industrial modern feel with complex contraptions for war, with a more medieval feel, with gargantuan catapults. And as the climax happens you see how the machinery works, with a Rube Goldberg machine feel to it, while the thief runs through it all, trying not to get killed. The ending of the film is cliche, but I was truly amazed by just how everything looked. The only criticism I can give involving the animation is sometimes how the characters move awkwardly at points, but I’ll put that on the production, and they couldn’t be worked on.


This film is beautiful, and if you want to check it out, you can find the full cut here.
Cover Image Credit: Flickr

Popular Right Now

11 Things Psychology Majors Hear That Drive Them Crazy

No pun intended.
4753
views

We've all been there. You're talking to a new acquaintance, or a friend of your parents, or whoever. And then, you get the dreaded question.

"So what are you studying in school?"

Cue the instant regret of picking Psychology as your major, solely for the fact that you are 99.9% likely to receive one of the slightly comical, slightly cliche, slightly annoying phrases listed below. Don't worry though, I've included some responses for you to use next time this comes up in conversation. Because it will.

Quick side note, these are all real-life remarks that I've gotten when I told people I was a psych major.

Here we go.

1. So are you, like, analyzing me right now?


Well, I wasn't. But yeah. Now I am.

2. Ugh so jealous! You picked the easy major.


"Lol" is all I have to say to this one. I'm gonna go write my 15-page paper on cognitive impairment. You have fun with your five college algebra problems, though!

3. So can you tell me what you think is wrong with me? *Shares entire life story*


Don't get me wrong; I love listening and helping people get through hard times. But we can save the story about how one time that one friend said that one slightly rude comment to you for later.

4. Well, s**t, I have to be careful what I say around you.


Relax, pal. I couldn't diagnose and/or institutionalize you even if I wanted to.

5. OMG! I have the perfect first client for you! *Proceeds to vent about ex-boyfriend or girlfriend*


Possible good response: simply nod your head the entire time, while actually secretly thinking about the Ben and Jerry's carton you're going to go home and demolish after this conversation ends.

6. So you must kind of be like, secretly insane or something to be into Psychology.


Option one: try and hide that you're offended. Option two: just go with it, throw a full-blown tantrum, and scare off this individual, thereby ending this painful conversation.

7. Oh. So you want to be a shrink?


First off, please. Stop. Calling. Therapists. Shrinks. Second, that's not a psych major's one and only job option.

8. You know you have to go to grad school if you ever want a job in Psychology.


Not completely true, for the record. But I am fully aware that I may have to spend up to seven more years of my life in school. Thanks for the friendly reminder.

9. So you... want to work with like... psychopaths?


Let's get serious and completely not-sarcastic for a second. First off, I take personal offense to this one. Having a mental illness does not classify you as a psycho, or not normal, or not deserving of being treated just like anyone else on the planet. Please stop using a handful of umbrella terms to label millions of wonderful individuals. It's not cool and not appreciated.

10. So can you, like, read my mind?


It actually might be fun to say yes to this one. Try it out and see what happens. Get back to me.

11. You must be a really emotional person to want to work in Psychology.


Psychology is more than about feeling happy, or sad, or angry. Psychology is about understanding the most complex thing to ever happen to us: our brain. How it works the way it does, why it works the way it does, and how we can better understand and communicate with this incredibly mysterious, incredibly vast organ in our tiny little skull. That's what psychology is.

So keep your head up, psychology majors, and don't let anyone discourage you about choosing, what is in my opinion, the coolest career field out there. The world needs more people like us.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Short Stories On Odyssey: Roses

What's worth more than red roses?

483
views

Five years old and a bouquet of roses rested in her hands. The audience-- clapped away her performance, giving her a standing ovation. She's smiling then because everything made sense, her happiness as bright as the roses she held in her hands.

Fifteen now, and a pile of papers rested on her desk. The teachers all smiled when she walked down the aisle and gave them her presentation. She was content then but oh so stressed, but her parents happy she had an A as a grade, not red on her chest.

Eighteen now and a trail of tears followed her to the door. Partying, and doing some wild things, she just didn't know who she was. She's crying now, doesn't know anymore, slamming her fists into walls, pricking her fingers on roses' thorns.

Twenty-one and a bundle of bills were grasped in her hands. All the men-- clapped and roared as she sold her soul, to the pole, for a dance. She's frowning now because everything went wrong, but she has to stay strong, for rich green money, is worth more than red roses.

Related Content

Facebook Comments