Friday, August 31, 2007

The Animated Treasures of Mr. Bluth

This was the first comprehensive look at the career of Don Bluth. The book was released by a small publisher, with an initial print run of around 2000. An error in printing caused sections of text to be inadvertantly dropped. A few years later, the publisher went out of business. Copies of this book are extremely rare.

Title: The Animated Films of Don Bluth
Author: John Cawley
Published: October 1991
Publisher: Image Pub of New York
Pages: ?
Genre: Nonfiction- Reference

I was a Don Bluth fan before I even knew that there was a difference between "cartoon" movies. The Land Before Time was actually the first movie I ever owned. I picked up The Animated Films of Don Bluth by John Cawley hoping to learn a bit more about my second favorite animated story-teller (Mr. Walt Disney is the first of course) and something more about some of my favorite movies like Thumbelina, Rock-a-Doodle, All Dogs Go to Heaven, The Secret of NIMH, etc. I got to read about what went into the production of those movies and a few good photos were included (even if they were in black and white).

I did discover an amazing fact while reading the book: The Walt Disney company hadn’t been working very hard on making good animated movies (kind of like today huh?) and refusing to put money into making the animation better (just look at The Aristocats if you don’t believe me) and this is why Don Bluth left the Disney studio in the first place. What amazes me is that as soon as Disney had someone to compete with, someone who was making better animated films (even if Disney had the better storyline, Bluth’s was animated in the classic Disney way), they started to put an effort into their work. That’s not to say that I don’t love all of those Disney movies (The Aristocats, The Great Mouse Detective, etc) it’s just that until the Disney company had someone to compete against they were willing to put out whatever would make a few bucks. In an indirect way we have Mr. Don Bluth to thank for The Little Mermaid and all of the great animated films that followed it.

I enjoyed reading the book but I do have a few complaints about it. For one, it was published in 1991 so there wasn’t much information on later films like The Pebble and the Penguin. For two, the book was large, thin, and paperback (it looked like a how-to-draw manual from the outside). The last thing that was wrong with the book is what hated the most: there were millions of typos on every page! I understand that it was published before spell check was used but it only took me a little while to read the book, someone should have gone through it and corrected it. I do hope one day that Mr. Bluth will be able to make more masterpieces.

First Paragraph: Don Bluth loves animation. Unlike the early animators who were largely artists who went into animation because it was steady work, and many of the artists today who are fans and have a "gosh wow" approach to the craft, Don has a deep serious love for the art form. This comes across when he talks. His quiet and somewhat humble mannerisms often hide a fierce spirit and drive not found in many.

~ The author has included most of the book on his website.
Don Bluth has his own website too.

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