“Icarus Montgolfier Wright” “Icarus Montgolfier Wright”

“Icarus Montgolfier Wright”

The brilliant but rarely seen 1962 Academy Award nominated animated short Icarus Montgolfier Wright has finally been posted on You Tube by animator Mike Kazaleh, who had a 16mm print given to him by exec producer Herb Klynn many years ago.

This is another of those films I saw several times back in my elementary school years, in English class, and never forgot the haunting images by Joe Mugnaini — who had done illustrations for many Ray Bradbury books. Icarus is based on a story by Ray Bradbury with a script co-written by Bradbury and George Clayton Johnson. Jules Engel produced it at Format Films and actors James Whitmore and Ross Martin provide the voices.

The film was released in 1962, but takes place in what was then the near future. In this story, it is the night before the first manned flight to the moon: August 22nd 1970. The date turned out to be off only by a year, a month, and two days.

UPA veteran Osmond Evans directed the picture. Evans was a very astute filmmaker, always careful about using shapes and motion from one scene to the next to give his films a flowing but dynamic feel. Although Icarus Montgolfier Wright has very little animation, it moves at a brisk pace because of the creative use of camera moves and editing.

In 2009 we posted about VFX artist Ryan Leasher’s forthcoming book about illustrator Joseph Mugnaini. His book, Wilderness of the Mind: The Art of Joseph Mugnaini, contains a foreward by Bradbury and is planned for publication in later this year from Art of Fiction.

(Thanks, Mike Kazaleh)

  • I’ve been able to meet with author, Ryan Leasher who is doing a new book on Mugnaini, and even provide him with two original pieces painted by Joe.

    I had the opportunity to meet Joe Mugnaini when the two of us worked on a special film called, “Concept” that was produced at the Walt Disney studio back in the sixties. The film was produced and directed by animation artist, Jim Fletcher.

  • it always makes me feel good when i see jules’ name

  • billburgnyc

    I’ve been looking for this for years! Thank you!

  • I’d known about the film, obviously, but hadn’t seen it. Thanks for calling attention to it.

  • bob kurtz

    Thanks for the compliment. I planned the camera moves on that film. Joe Mugnaini was a joy to work with as was Ray Bradbury.

    • Mike Kazaleh

      Exceptional work, Bob! The layout and camera moves are superb! I would love to hear anything you have to say about the production of this film and how the whole thing came together.

  • bob kurtz

    mike- we will have to talk.

  • Great work, Bob. I saw the film back in the sixties and it looked awesome up on the big screen. Years later, I spoke with George Clayton Johnston who was Bradbury’s co-screenwriter on the project. Oddly enough, we met at the San Diego ComicCon.

  • bob kurtz

    and george clayton johnson is one of the good guys.

  • Mark Walton

    Wow! Fantastic. Amazing what can be done with great artwork and skillful camera work. Bradbury has always been one of my idols – what a pleasure to discover this gem! Thanks so much for posting this.