Friday, November 15, 2013

About Cussing Time...

It looks like the Criterion Collection is going to get their hands wet with animation…

That's right… Fantastic Mr. Fox will be the first animated feature film to get a Criterion Collection edition since Akira, which was released on LaserDisc way back in the mid 1990s. This edition will be released on February 18, 2014! Right around the corner!

Now, does this mean that Criterion will begin investing in other animated titles?

Back in 2010, Kevin T. Rodriguez of Examiner put together this excellent list of what titles that Criterion should give a release. It would give many obscure and hard-to-find animated films a chance to shine, and also gain new fans.

The Black Cauldron and Song of the South were listed, but these will probably never happen since Disney very rarely licenses their titles to other distributors. (A few of their live action titles were released by Anchor Bay on DVD in the early 2000s.)

The Thief and the Cobbler would be the Brazil of the animated Criterion Blu-rays, considering what that film went through and how many versions there are. The visually innovative Twice Upon a Time is criminally kept away from us, having only gotten a home video release once… In 1991. The Plague Dogs is always given the cheapo DVD treatment in the US, and every home video release of that film in the US (and even in its home country, the UK, until 2008) has the 86-minute version. The Secret of Kells got a great Blu-ray edition from Cinedigm months after this article was posted.

When The Wind Blows only got one VHS release here, and a few DVD releases in the UK. The Land Before Time would be interesting, if they track down Don Bluth's original cut or something close to it. (If it was ever finished and finalized before Steven Spielberg and George Lucas unusually forced him to water it down.) Coonskin is also ideal, along with some of Ralph Bakshi's other films that weren't as successful. The Point! is another good addition, being a particularly rare one.

But 10 isn't enough… There are tons and tons of animated films begging for a Criterion release or a release of that caliber…

Watership Down (also from the director of The Plague Dogs, Martin Rosen) never really got a great DVD release here, at least not to my knowledge. I have the 2008 "Deluxe Edition" DVD, but it had very few bonus features and nothing from a good 2005 DVD released only in Australia, which apparently contained an audio commentary from Rosen himself.

The UK's first feature-length animated film, Handling Ships, is a good candidate along with the 1954 Animal Farm. The former is tough, because it was really a training film requested by the British Admiralty that didn't get much of a release. The latter is doable, considering the source material and its status as one of the UK's first animated features.

Aside from The Thief and the Cobbler, Richard Williams' work deserves a set of its own, from his short films to his commercials. But of course we have Garrett Gilchrist restoring his work and making it readily available for animation fans, after all, it was his dedication that brought Cobbler into the limelight as he tracked down the work print and also put together his wonderful fan-edit, The Recobbled Cut.

What about The Adventures of Mark Twain? Will Vinton's stop motion animated film from 1985? A limited released back in the day, it needs to reach a wider audience.

Several anime films… There's a goldmine there!

There are also lots of interesting European productions from the Golden Age that could get some form of release as well.

Anyways, that's just some pipe dream stuff. Maybe this will be a one-time thing given the fact that Criterion has given many of Wes Anderson's films tip top treatment. Or maybe, just maybe, they'll finally mine the animation caves. Let's hope that happens!

By the way, that cover artwork is splendid. It fits the film better than the current Blu-ray edition's cover…


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