Given the fact that the ominous beast of movie studios, Walt Disney Pictures, has a seemingly unbreakable lock on the animated film market, it's always a nice treat when some upstart animator makes the move into the "kiddie" market. Such is the case with animator Richard Williams, and his new film, "Arabian Knight", a cute little movie that weaves a tale of the magical city of Baghdad BEFORE that guy with the lamp.
Yes, it's cute, but with a smart-alecky edge that makes it watchable for adults. The story involves the adventures of a poor cobbler named Tack. When he runs afoul of the local master wizard, Zig-Zag, Tack is taken into custody and his head is "put on the block". The great King Nod and his daughter Princess Yum-Yum sit in judgment, and the radiant Princess takes a shinin' to the poor, mostly black and white colored Tack. He gets some color in his features after he interacts with her, and together they set off of a quest to save the kingdom from the evil marauding armies of the nasty General One-Eye.
Yes, I know, you've seen this kind of thing before: Princess meets pauper, they fall in love, they have an adventure, they fight the evil wizard, etc. The really cool catch here is that the evil wizard is brought to life by the smooth rhymings of the late Vincent Price. Just hearing him roll off his little evil ramblings, one can't help but feel a little wistful at losing a true movie original.
Also of note is the background design: it's filled with blinding contrasts of colors and wild checkerboard designs that could throw a victim of Tourette Syndrome into some pretty wacky behavior. The character drawings are reminiscent of movies like "Yellow Submarine" and "The Point", and the music, if not memorable, is at least passable. Best of all, this is a fine effort from a source other than the devil-spawn that is Disney, and that's enough.
Copyright 1995 John A. Lavin
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