This guest blog article is by Lizzy Newsome.
There are few artistic mediums as accessible as animation. The ideas and concepts are born fully illustrated, and the artist’s vision can be shared with viewers of all ages and backgrounds.
This month, the Alamo Drafthouse is bringing Kevin Schreck’s Persistence of Vision to Austin, a documentary centered on the most ambitious animated feature ever created. Or perhaps it should be “never” created. Master animator Richard Williams spent nearly three decades on his animated masterpiece The Thief and the Cobbler, but his dreams for the movie were never realized. The cobbled together film was released in 1993 to little fanfare and resulted in a loss of 24 million dollars.
To say too much would spoil the film for attendees. But through archival footage and contemporary interviews, Persistence of Vision follows Richard Williams as he dedicates his life to what should be his ultimate creation.
The director of Persistence of Vision, Kevin Schreck, was first exposed to Richard Williams’ animation craftsmanship through Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The discovery of Williams’ attempted masterpiece came later. When Schreck realized that this dramatic chapter in animation history was as of yet unrecorded, he decided to make an attempt.
Richard Williams has refused to speak publicly about The Thief and the Cobbler. Kevin Schrek says that “I knew basically from the start that he wouldn’t participate in the project. But thankfully, everyone we interviewed had such vivid, fascinating stories to share that really brought this largely forgotten story to life. Also, the archival footage of Williams throughout the years really helped. He’s, fittingly, a very animated person.”
Due to all of Williams’ struggles, the resulting film, The Thief and the Cobbler, is a somewhat imperfect representation. But it is still one of my most treasured childhood favorites. As Persistence of Vision reminds us, perhaps it is the journey toward creation that is most important.
In addition to the Austin premiere screening of Persistence of Vision on September 28th, the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz will also be screening the fantastical Who Framed Roger Rabbit, arguably Richard Williams’ most famous animation work.
Lizzy Jane Newsome is easily excited by large public gatherings or animals on the Internet. When she isn’t busy in her chosen career, you can find her feeding ducks. For more excitement, check out BriteShiny.com.
Disclosure: The author really likes cartoons and was given access to a pre-screening of Persistence of Vision in order to prepare this article.
Photos courtesy of Kevin Schreck, Director of Persistence of Vision.