“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)

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