As the winter rolls along, I dusted off my laser disc collection recently and came across another movie that I am still surprised to be waiting for its release on DVD. It's a movie that was distributed by the same company that released "Blade Runner" and "The Right Stuff". It lists George Lucas as its executive producer and includes in its production credits people like Henry Selick and David Fincher. It's a full length animated movie and its art was directed by Harley Jessup, the production designer for Pixar's "Ratatouille" and "Monster's Inc." and its main hero character, the all-purpose-animal named Ralph, is portrayed by Lorenzo Music, also known as being the voice of "Garfield". A film under the influence of so many talented people deserves to be seen, and is why I am throwing in my plea to the powers that be to finally release "Twice Upon A Time" onto DVD.
In researching this review I discovered I am not alone in my quest and found a lot of detailed information about the history of the project on the "Twice Upon A Time" Wikipedia page which includes links to in-depth articles by fellow 'Twice' enthusiasts Taylor Jessen, a writer for 'Animation Blast' magazine, and to Ward Jenkin's animation blog 'Wardomatic'. The postings offer insights, interviews, and stories as to what went on when a group of artists, animators and filmmakers descended upon a house in Mill Valley in the early eighties and created "Twice Upon A Time".
Korty Films led by John Korty, pioneered the unique 2D animation style known as 'Lumage' - a process that uses 2D cut out pieces to animate the scenes in a manner similar to what is seen in current shows like "South Park". The difference with 'Lumage' however is its use of light tables which pump light through the pieces and fabrics which enrich the materials with a warm colorful glow creating an almost animated stained glass kind of effect. The visual cut outs were mixed with real life photos and footage and features scenes and backgrounds from throughout the bay area. The end result is like a ride through a part of 'Pepperland' we missed in "The Yellow Submarine".
Apparently there was a conflict amongst the film's producers and there are at least two different versions of the movie, the first a family friendly edited one that was released onto VHS tape and Laserdisc in 1991, and another uncensored version that was aired on HBO in the eighties and contained a different dialog track for the villain Synonamess Botch by Marshall Efron who spiced it up by adding swears and adult language into the mix. I've seen both takes, and don't think the crude humor adds much and I prefer the cleaned up version, however would concede that an alternate audio track on a re-mastered DVD would be a desired feature.
The tragedy is how unavailable this movie now is. In the last decade it's appeared at random on the Cartoon Network and you might be lucky and discover a copy on tape at Le Video or on ebay, however for most people they will never get a chance to be taken to Sunny Frivoli or see the beautiful darkness of Murkwood. Hoping someone out there in Hollywoodland hears our pleas and releases "Twice Upon a Time" onto DVD someday, for Movie Magazine, this is Purple.
© 2008 - Purple - Air Date: 1/23/08
Twice Upon a Time
USA - 1983