It’s hard to believe that it’s been 30 years since audiences first visited Toontown. And now, the seminal Who Framed Roger Rabbit is finally getting its due with a definitive production history scheduled to be published next year.
The book, Pulling a Rabbit Out of a Hat, is written by Canadian author Ross Anderson, who spoke with over 140 people involved with the production, from the project’s first version at Disney in the early 1980’s to the iconic final version directed by Robert Zemeckis and animated by Richard Williams’ studio in London. To support the book, Anderson has created a fascinating site that is being updated regularly with never-before-seen artwork, rare behind-the-scenes footage, and new information about the making of the film.
If there’s any eighties animated film that I’m personally interested in learning more about, it would have to be this one, not only because it was such a singular creative and technical accomplishment, but also because of the impact it’s had on the development of feature animation. Roger Rabbit was the film that lifted animation out of Hollywood’s kiddie/family ghetto of the seventies and eighties, and set the model for the all-ages animated feature that could appeal equally to children and adults. Thirty years later, for better and worse, the all-ages approach remains the de facto model for Hollywood feature animation.