There are so many streaming options available today, and so many conflicting recommendations, it's hard to see through all the crap you could see. Every Friday, The edgeThe Cut the Crap column simplifies the selection by searching the overwhelming amount of films and TV series on subscription services and recommending a perfect thing to watch this weekend.
What to watch
The Thief and the Cobbler: Recobbled Cut (Mark 4), a 2013 Garrett Gilchrist recreation of the unfinished feature by Richard Williams. Started by Williams & # 39; studio in London in 1964, then seized by a financier and outsourced to another animation company for completion in 1992, The thief and the shoemaker tells the story of an old Arab city governed by a decadent king and a corrupt vizier. When a cunning thief crosses the paths with a good-hearted shoemaker named Tack, the encounter launches a series of events that leads to Tack falling for the king's daughter, and the city besieged by a tribe of one-eyed monsters. The fourth and most complete of Gilchrist & # 39; s "recobbled" cuts (trying to make as much of Williams & # 39; original vision as possible possible) use images from a much aired workprint, combined with some original Gilchrist art, rare clips of animators who worked on the project and pieces of the 1993 compromised theatrical version.
Why watch now?
Because Aladdin opens this weekend.
After the enormous success of the live promotion in the cash register The Jungle Book in 2016 and the live promotion Beauty and the beast in 2017, Walt Disney Studios seems to go all-in on the idea of recreating its own animated classics and replicating the most memorable images and musical numbers from those films with actors and CGI. This year has already seen a new one Dumbo, with The lionking and Lady and the Tramp still to come, plus Mulan and The sword in the stone in 2020.
And this week brings Aladdin, directed by Guy Ritchie, and co-written by Ritchie, John August and Vanessa Taylor, who have adapted the animated original of 1992 fairly closely. Will Smith takes on the role of Genie (narrated by Robin Williams in the cartoon), who helps a resourceful thief and a compassionate princess outweighs an angry visor.
Some animation enthusiasts may notice the irony that Disney is squeezing more money out of a movie that sometimes gets dangerously close The thief and the shoemaker. The 1992 Aladdin is loosely based on the old story of Aladdin and his magic lamp, from A thousand and one nightsand there are elements in the Disney version that are not in the Williams movie, such as the Genie. But both films have an evil sight with a pet bird and a round king with a beautiful daughter. And Aladdin and his pet monkey share characteristics with Williams & thief and shoemaker. There is a creepy resemblance in the visual design between the two films – and the two visors in particular.
The thief and the shoemaker was hardly a secret project. Williams started working on an early version in the 1960s, after illustrating a series of books drawn from folklore about the Sufi "holy fool" Nasrudin. Richard Williams Productions was already a successful British animation studio at the time, known for its visually striking commercials, film credits and animated TV specials. For decades, Williams plowed much of his profit into paying employees to work on what would become The thief and the shoemaker. Over the years, he has talked extensively about the film with reporters and showed demo roles to potential investors. (One of those presentations led to his studio being hired to show the Oscar-winning animation Who Framed Roger Rabbit.) Several Williams staff members found other jobs after working with him – including two at work Aladdin.
Admittedly The thief and the shoemaker has a very different approach than Aladdin. At the end of the 1980s, Williams signed an agreement with Warner Bros. to finance the completion of his dream project through a bond company. But by the time the studio saw an early cut in his work, Walt Disney had scored big with the musical fairy tales The little Mermaid and Beauty and the beast, neither of which resemble Williams's idiosyncratic collection of Arab vignettes. When Warner withdrew from the project, the bond company hired another animation studio led by Fred Calvert to finish it. A version released by a new distributor abroad added cute songs, plus dialogue for the earlier mute Tack. Then Miramax acquired Which snapped and messed on, shifted more of the purely visual comedy, and hired Jonathan Winters to give the stupid thief an internal monologue.
For who it is
Animation connoisseurs and anyone who is obsessed with "lost films".
Like Orson Welles & # 39; The other side of the wind or Terry Gilliam's first attempt at The man who killed Don Quixote, Williams & # 39; unfinished The thief and the shoemaker is the stuff of the legend among cinephiles. But while Gilliam finally got a second chance to make his film, and while Welles & # 39; film was finally pulled posthumously by simpatico colleagues & # 39; s and released on Netflix, the original The thief and the shoemaker will never be recovered, because Williams and his animators have never completed all the series they needed.
Yet Gilchrist & # 39; s "withdrawn" cut – unconfirmed by Williams by the way – seems like a half-masterpiece. In his commercial work, Williams had a reputation of being "wow," always producing detailed, detailed images and smooth movements that went beyond what even Disney was doing. His film coincides, moment after moment of that wow, with astonishingly complicated shifts in perspective fully achieved with pen and ink, plus a lovingly crafted silent comedy and a fun voice performance by a rhyming Vincent Price as the villain (recorded mostly between 1967 and 1973 )).
Where to see it
Gilchrist has cut of the The thief and the shoemaker – together with an impressive collection of other animations from Richard Williams – available free of charge, with advertisements, on the Gilchrist YouTube channel, TheThiefArchive. There is also a fascinating 2012 Kevin Schreck documentary about making The thief and the shoemaker called out Perseverance of vision, available to rent or buy Vimeo.