Here is a little article I wrote for Alex Williams' animation blog FLIP. The Thief and the Cobbler – A moment in time Screened Tuesday,December 10th at the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre , Beverly Hills.
When Richard Williams announced a few weeks ago that he would screen ‘The Thief’ at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences , many people were surprised and excited.
Last night was the night.
The program opened when Randy Haberkamp, who had worked for years to make this event possible, introduced the 1972 best animated Short winner,’ A Christmas Carol’ , directed by Dick . What a treat to see this seasonal classic on the big screen, featuring animation by Ken Harris, the master layouts by Roy Naisbitt and the vocal stylings of a very young Alex Williams as ‘Tiny Tim’.
Then Dick took the stage and introduced the main attraction. He explained that this was not a finished film, but a dirty or slash dupe made overnight after the infamous shut down of production in May 1992.
He talked about the main contributors like Ken Harris and Art Babbit, Errol leCain’s backgrounds, Roy Naisbitt’s layouts and his ingenious contraptions for the War machine and the many people who helped on bringing Dick’s vision to the screen.
Thanking Randy and his college pal Carl Bell for pursuing a public showing, a visibly moved Dick stood aside to present his unfinished masterpiece: The Thief and the Cobbler- A moment in time.
The capacity crowd, peppered with Animation professionals such as Eric Goldberg, John Musker, James Baxter, David Silverman, June Foray and many others, laughed at the antics of the Thief, marveled at the wonders of the Persian miniature come to life and watched in awe at the intricate destruction of the war machine.
Dick once again took to the stage to an enthusiastic and earnest standing ovation.
The evening concluded after a brief Q & A, where Dick once again thanked his crew and the Academy for making this screening possible.
Asked about his favorite scene in the movie, he pointed out two. Firstly a scene at the beginning of the movie, where Zig Zag parades down the street while his minions roll out and roll up his carpet. Dick singled this out because he worked on it with his son and it makes it special and personal for him. The other one was the Thief flying over and around the golden Idol, accompanied by the famous Air men march, and he named Thief blog contributor Holger Leihe as one of the animators on this sequence.
On a personal note, this event brought back many memories, the good-the bad and the over-worked. I couldn’t help but feel a deep gratitude to the man who gave me, like so many others, the opportunity to enter into this crazy business of Animation.
Taking on someone with virtually no experience other than a reasonable ability to draw and sharing his vast knowledge, giving someone a chance… this is something that does not happen anymore. Without Dick Williams and his pursuit of mastering a craft, learning from the people who came before him and passing their knowledge on to friends and competitors alike, there would not have been the thriving British animation industry of the 80s and 90s.
And I could not have been happier for him last night.