Richard Williams Animator’s Survival Kit
A top United Artists executive who distributed The Yellow Submarine told me, ‘This is the Beatles at the height of their popularity and still people stay away from non-Disney animation.’ Film executives at that time always said of animation, ‘If it doesn’t have the Disney name on it, no one will go see it.’ But the real point is, it wasn’t just the Disney name it was the Disney expertise that captivated the audience and held them for eighty minutes.
Almost the same week Disney’s The Jungle Book came out and was an instant hit. I went along to see it reluctantly, thinking (as I still considered myself an innovator) that though there might be something interesting, it was probably predictable stuff.
That’s how it started with standard-issue wolves adopting the ‘good housekeeping seal of approval cutesy baby. I remember the boy Mowgli riding a black panther moving and acting in a clichéd way – until he got off. And suddenly everything changed. The drawing changed. The proportions changed. The actions and acting changed. The panther helped the boy up a tree and everything moved to a superb level of entertainment. The action, the drawing, the performance, even the colors were exquisite. Then the snake appeared and tried to hypnotize the boy and the audience was entranced. I was astonished.