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USA, 2012, 83 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Animated, Art/Filmmaking, Biographical, Biopic, Documentary
Program: DocumentaryLanguage: English
DIRECTOR: Kevin Schreck
Producer: Kevin SchreckEditor: Kevin Schreck, Maureen GoslingCinematographer: Kevin Schreck
Kevin Schreck documents one artist’s quest for perfection: Animator Richard Williams (Who Framed Roger Rabbit) dedicated nearly three decades to a project that came to be best known as The Thief and the Cobbler. Williams intended the film to be his personal masterpiece. Determined to reinvent the art of animation, he obsessed over every frame.
Williams based his plot on translations of ancient Persian manuscripts, and for inspiration watched the silent comedies of Charlie Chaplin and Harry Langdon. He meticulously drew a magical world for his main character, the Mullah Nasruddin. But progress slowed, and his self-financed film eventually stalled. Williams brought in master animator Ken Harris, of Road Runner fame, to assist him. While his team of animators slaved over each scene, Williams continued to change the script and blow the budget. After Roger Rabbit won four Oscars in 1988, Warner Bros. took an interest and committed enough money to complete The Thief and the Cobbler, but under the studio’s terms. Williams could not meet the deadlines, and the insurance company took away his ownership of the film.
Schreck gathered rare archival footage, visual ephemera, artwork, and Williams’s rough animation to create Persistence of Vision. “My interest in this story stems from a lifelong fascination with the endless possibilities offered by the art of animation,” he says. Schreck traveled to the United Kingdom, Canada, and New York City to interview artists and animators who worked with Williams, but the man at the center of the film refused to participate. “We will never know if Williams’s film would have been the masterpiece he wanted it to be, and we will never know the full story without the protagonist’s input,” Schreck says. “Like Williams’s unfinished epic, my own film remains necessarily incomplete because of Williams’s silence.”
- JOEY PORCELLI
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