Sep 23, 2016

An Afternoon with Richard Williams, his "Thief", and John Canemaker in NYC

Dick Williams and John Canemaker in 1978, taken by the late Michael Sporn.

I've been meaning to write about Richard Williams for a long time now, usually motivated by a happening somewhere that involves him, but each time it's slipped by with no post.

While something longer, more personal and untethered to any upcoming dates is still to be done, I can't let this event go: tomorrow, Saturday the 24th at 4pm, Dick Williams will sit down at MoMA with his longtime friend and fellow animator (and Oscar winner) John Canemaker for a talk and to present some of his personal and very public works. Preceding the discussion at 1:30, Williams' last cut of "The Thief and the Cobbler" before it was wrested from his hands will screen. From MoMA's website:

Richard Williams’s The Thief and the Cobbler is a legend in animation circles, both as a breathtakingly beautiful work of hand-drawn animation—a conscious attempt to better Walt Disney at his own game—and for its troubled production history. An Arabian Nights fantasy about a mischievous thief and a resourceful shoemaker who save a golden city from the clutches of a wicked vizier, the film entered production in 1964. As the scope widened and financiers came and went, production only reached an endpoint in 1992, when Williams lost control of the film and other animators were brought in to finish what was eventually released in the US, in a much altered version, as Arabian Knight. Luckily, Williams was able to make a copy of his work print as it existed on May 13, 1992, the last day of production, and the “moment in time” of the title. This print has been preserved and restored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Academy Film Archive. MoMA and the Academy are proud to be able to present the film’s New York premiere. The Thief and the Cobbler will be shown with Circus Drawings, a 2010 short that brings to life the sketches of a Spanish circus made by Mr. Williams in 1953.

Layout drawing by Art Babbitt, from traditional

Yet another must-attend, thanks to Canemaker, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and MoMA.

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