Austin Texas Saves The Last Unicorn from Endangered Species List

The film's animation is remarkably sophisticated as well, especially given the budget constraints of the Rankin/Bass production studio. Producer Michael Chase Walker had pitched the film to Disney, Warner Bros., and a succession of other major animation studios, but, despite interest from individual animators, the story was too dark and too quirky to be considered a good box-office risk at a time when many studios were backing away from features to concentrate on the safer television market. "The film was always almost getting made," says Beagle. When he learned that the film had been signed with Rankin/Bass, best known at the time for producing stop-motion holiday specials like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and The Year Without a Santa Claus, he was furious. "I remember screaming, 'Why didn't you just go all the way and sell it to Hanna-Barbera?' And Michael looked immensely sad and said, 'They were next.'" Surprisingly, the animation studio of last resort proved to be a perfect fit for the idiosyncratic screenplay. Like all Rankin/Bass productions, the film was animated by the Japanese studio Topcraft, whose major animators, including studio head Toru Hara, went on to work on the highly regarded Hayao Miyazaki features Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and My Neighbor Totoro. The film's animation aesthetic resembles the Studio Ghibli style: Alternately graceful and grotesque, Lady Amalthea's furtive movements, eerily enlarged eyes, and delicate limbs link her visually with her unicorn alter ego. The film's richly painted backgrounds borrow from medieval tapestries, and Janet Maslin called the film's climactic animation sequence "startling and lovely" in her 1982 New York Times review. In one particular standout chase sequence, the Red Bull was animated "in ones," meaning that a new image was drawn for each frame, rather than every other frame. The resulting fluidity and vibrancy of the moving image may explain why those who watched the film as children always remember the Red Bull so vividly. According to Beagle, "While children are terrified by the Red Bull, they remember the Red Bull; they come back to see it and be scared again."

The film’s animation is remarkably sophisticated as well, especially given the budget constraints of the Rankin/Bass production studio. Producer Michael Chase Walker had pitched the film to Disney, Warner Bros., and a succession of other major animation studios, but, despite interest from individual animators, the story was too dark and too quirky to be considered a good box-office risk at a time when many studios were backing away from features to concentrate on the safer television market. “The film was always almost getting made,” says Beagle. When he learned that the film had been signed with Rankin/Bass, best known at the time for producing stop-motion holiday specials like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and The Year Without a Santa Claus, he was furious. “I remember screaming, ‘Why didn’t you just go all the way and sell it to Hanna-Barbera?’ And Michael looked immensely sad and said, ‘They were next.'”
Surprisingly, the animation studio of last resort proved to be a perfect fit for the idiosyncratic screenplay. Like all Rankin/Bass productions, the film was animated by the Japanese studio Topcraft, whose major animators, including studio head Toru Hara, went on to work on the highly regarded Hayao Miyazaki features Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and My Neighbor Totoro. The film’s animation aesthetic resembles the Studio Ghibli style: Alternately graceful and grotesque, Lady Amalthea’s furtive movements, eerily enlarged eyes, and delicate limbs link her visually with her unicorn alter ego. The film’s richly painted backgrounds borrow from medieval tapestries, and Janet Maslin called the film’s climactic animation sequence “startling and lovely” in her 1982 New York Times review. In one particular standout chase sequence, the Red Bull was animated “in ones,” meaning that a new image was drawn for each frame, rather than every other frame. The resulting fluidity and vibrancy of the moving image may explain why those who watched the film as children always remember the Red Bull so vividly. According to Beagle, “While children are terrified by the Red Bull, they remember the Red Bull; they come back to see it and be scared again.”

The Last Unicorn Austin2The film’s animation is remarkably sophisticated as well, especially given the budget constraints of the Rankin/Bass production studio. Producer Michael Chase Walker had pitched the film to Disney, Warner Bros., and a succession of other major animation studios, but, despite interest from individual animators, the story was too dark and too quirky to be considered a good box-office risk at a time when many studios were backing away from features to concentrate on the safer television market. “The film was always almost getting made,” says Beagle. When he learned that the film had been signed with Rankin/Bass, best known at the time for producing stop-motion holiday specials like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and The Year Without a Santa Claus, he was furious. “I remember screaming, ‘Why didn’t you just go all the way and sell it to Hanna-Barbera?’ And Michael looked immensely sad and said, ‘They were next.'”
Surprisingly, the animation studio of last resort proved to be a perfect fit for the idiosyncratic screenplay. Like all Rankin/Bass productions, the film was animated by the Japanese studio Topcraft, whose major animators, including studio head Toru Hara, went on to work on the highly regarded Hayao Miyazaki features Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and My Neighbor Totoro. The film’s animation aesthetic resembles the Studio Ghibli style: Alternately graceful and grotesque, Lady Amalthea’s furtive movements, eerily enlarged eyes, and delicate limbs link her visually with her unicorn alter ego. The film’s richly painted backgrounds borrow from medieval tapestries, and Janet Maslin called the film’s climactic animation sequence “startling and lovely” in her 1982 New York Times review. In one particular standout chase sequence, the Red Bull was animated “in ones,” meaning that a new image was drawn for each frame, rather than every other frame. The resulting fluidity and vibrancy of the moving image may explain why those who watched the film as children always remember the Red Bull so vividly. According to Beagle, “While children are terrified by the Red Bull, they remember the Red Bull; they come back to see it and be scared again.”

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