Opening May 1st, from Lionsgate, is Battle For Terra (formerly known simply as Terra). This film actually won the Best Feature award at the 2008 Ottawa International Animation Festival. It’s no Delgo… but that’s not saying much.
Four scary words: Motion Capture from Bollywood.
Submitted for your approval: Sultan The Warrior. This new Tamil-language animated feature opens in India in May through Big Pictures, a Reliance Group company (Dreamworks recently partnered with them). It will then be distributed throughout the rest of the world by Warner Bros. Consider yourself warned.
(Thanks, Liam Scanlan)
This is perhaps the most off-topic post I’ve written for Cartoon Brew, but I hope you’ll indulge me. It’s regarding a neglected aspect of the Walt Disney Company that I’ve been curious about for years and haven’t read about anywhere else. It’s regarding the six live action feature films (at least, that’s how many my research has uncovered so far) released by Buena Vista in the late 50s – directed by no less than Sidney Lumet, Frank Borzage and Michael Curtiz, starring the likes of Henry Fonda, Alan Ladd and Lee Marvin.
Walt Disney took many gambles in the 1950s: with Disneyland, with True-Life adventures, with television, with CinemaScope… to name but a few. Perhaps his biggest, outside of Disneyland, was to control his own destiny in Hollywood by creating the Buena Vista Distibution Co.
It began in 1953. The hand-writing was on the wall, Disney was growing unhappy with his 18 year arrangement with distributor RKO. In protest, Buena Vista was created to market a single film (The Living Desert). Once established, plans were quickly made to expand Disney’s annual release slate with live action features and shorts, documentaries, comedies, dramas, westerns and fantasies – and to get out of the RKO deal as quickly as possible. After several additional British costume dramas (The Sword and The Rose, Rob Roy The Highland Rogue), 1955′s Music Land, a pastiche of segments culled from Make Mine Music and Melody Time, fulfilled Disney’s obligation to RKO — and was the company’s final RKO release.
Beginning with 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), BV became a Hollywood player with a strong slate of promised Disney productions – animated features such as Lady and The Tramp and Sleeping Beauty supplemented with lighter, suitable family fare, mainly westerns and true-life adventures. However, Disney productions alone were not coming fast enough to keep the new distribution staff busy. Like any business, the company’s life blood is a steady stream of new product.
Between 1957 and 1959, BV released six acquisitions that played a part in keeping the company afloat during this initial phase of its growth. None of these films were produced by Disney (at least I think they weren’t) but all reflected something of his views and values. It began with a couple of foreign language pick-ups:
If All The Guys In the World (released April 1957) D: Christian-Jaque. An optimistic French film about how the world comes together to save twelve poisoned fishermen.
The Story of Vickie (released January 1958) D: Ernst Marischka. Starring Romy Schneider. Filmed in Vienna, it’s the story of Queen Victoria.
The Missouri Traveler (released March 1958) D: Jerry Hopper. Brandon DeWilde and Lee Marvin star in this film about a runaway orphan and the townspeople he affects.
Stage Struck (released April 1958) D: Sidney Lumet. Starring Henry Fonda and Susan Strasberg, about a young girl coming to New York to become an actress (this was one of last films produced by RKO, ironically it ended up being distributed by Disney).
Proud Rebel (released May 1958) D: Michael Curtiz. Starring Alan Ladd and Olivia DeHaviland, the story is about a western doctor trying to find a cure for his mute son.
The Big Fisherman (released October 1959) D: Frank Borzage. This was a big budget wide-screen Biblical epic starring Howard Keel as the Apostle Simon Peter.
Disney no longer owns any rights to these films – at least I think they don’t. If anyone has further light to shed on this period of Buena Vista’s history, I’m interested in hearing about it. Additional information about these releases is encouraged in the comments below.
UPDATES: As noted in the comments below, there was a seventh independent BV release, Yang Kwei Fei (Japan) in 1956. Also, please read John McElwee’s post on C.V. Whitney, Disney and the early days of Buena Vista.
Click thumbnails below to see full size images: left: A 1958 Buena Vista trade ad. Note The Young Land, mentioned in the ad below, was ultimately released by Columbia Pictures in 1959. center: A piece of Disney stationary for Proud Rebel courtesy of Mike Van Eaton. right: The one sheet poster for The Big Fisherman.
A song by the French band Oldelaf & Monsieur D, with animation by Stephanie Marguerite and Emilie Tarascou.
Here’s a piece of Fleischer animation unseen in over 80 years… in fact it may never have been seen in movement at all. Director Bob Jaques loaned animator John Vincent his rare copy of Betty Boop’s Movie Cartoon Lessons which features a Koko The Clown flip book template. Vincent then put together a quicktime of the Koko run cycle. The result: twelve seconds of pure bliss!
For the amount of traffic we receive, the comments on Cartoon Brew remain remarkably trouble-free, owing largely to the awesomeness of our readers. January 2009 was our highest month of traffic ever on Cartoon Brew, and with so many new readers coming onboard, we think now would be a good time to remind folks to check out the comment posting guidelines for this site. The most common infractions are folks who post their names/signatures in the body of their comment (your name is already listed at top with a link to your website) and those who don’t include real email addresses (we’ll delete comments with fake emails if we’re in a bad mood). Also, please remember that we don’t tolerate personal insults directed towards any other commenter (or Brewmaster, for that matter). It’s easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment discussing an art form that we’re all passionate about, but comments must be directed towards the other comment writer’s opinion, not the writer himself. Now back to your regularly scheduled blogging…
Scintillation by Paris-based music video director Xavier Chassaing is an experimental work comprised of over 35,000 photographs and using a mix of stop-motion and live-action projection mapping techniques. While nobody seems to be exactly sure of how the look was achieved, it’s an undeniably gorgeous visual experience.
(via Laughing Squid)
The late Ward Kimball, Chuck Jones and Tex Avery have a showdown with the notoriously mean-spirited Alan Smithee in this week’s edition of Directorama. According to the artist Peet Gelderblom, “Directorama is a weekly webcomic that chronicles the afterlife of a pantheon of legendary directors duking it out for artistic supremacy. Their heavenly mission: To inspire filmmakers carrying the torch back on Earth. The strip was inspired by the near simultaneous deaths of cinematic masters Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni in the Summer of 2007.”
The Simpsons have changed their opening sequence. Tonight’s show opened with a revised version formatted in wide screen for HD, the first revamp of the main titles since 1989. The original version had been the last vestige of the show’s Klasky Csupo roots.
This week marks the anniversary of one of our most popular posts: the one about the Spongebob Squarepants Musical Rectal Thermometer. Nothing I find in the super-market again can ever top that.
However, last night I found myself at an overstock outlet store, Big Lots, and lo and behold: a Disney Pooh Rectal Thermometer! It doesn’t play the theme song in your ass like the Spongebob product does – but otherwise its a perfect match of character-to-merchandise! It’ll go great with the Pooh Huggies diapers and Looney Tunes Baby Wipes I also found.
Did you miss the Coraline production artists panel at Gallery Nucleus last week? Sean Szeles recorded the discussion and has posted it onto YouTube. The artists on the panel were Shannon Tindle, Shane Prigmore, Dan Krall, Chris Appelhans, Jon Klassen and Andy Schuler. All of Chris Appelhans’ and half of Jon Klassen’s presentation weren’t recorded due to the camera battery dying. Nevertheless this is a rare opportunity to hear from the talents who helped design this extraordinary film, especially seeing as how the film’s accompanying ‘art of’ book is a farce that excludes the work of these artists. I’ll be writing more about Coraline soon. Until then, I’ve created a playlist so you can watch the entire panel with just one click below:
Nina Paley’s animated feature Sita Sings the Blues is the subject of a write-up in this Sunday’s NY Times. It’s a delight to see such a deserving piece of indie animation receive copious amounts of attention from the mainstream media. Of particular interest are the latest developments in how Nina is tackling the film’s music copyright issues and finding a way to make her film available for public consumption:
Because of an exception in the copyright act, public television stations can broadcast music without having to clear individual licenses, and “Sita” will be shown on the New York PBS station WNET on March 7, after which it will be available on the station’s Web site. “My thing,” Ms. Paley said in November, sounding glum, “is that I just want people to see it.”
Recently, though, the licensing fee was negotiated down to approximately $50,000, and “Sita” is close to being sprung from what Ms. Paley calls “copyright jail.” Still, she hopes to release it in a manner as alternative as her film. Using the free software movement – dedicated to spreading information without copyright restrictions – as her model, she has decided to offer “Sita” at no charge online and let the public become her distributor.
Sita Sings the Blues was my 2008 pick of the year for best animated feature, and we also presented the first eleven minutes of the film a few weeks ago on Cartoon Brew TV. Watch it below: