April 11, 2013
The Secret History of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”
By Ross Anderson
On Thursday evening, April 4th, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hosted the first public screening of the new digital print of Who framed Roger Rabbit. The preparation of the digital print coincides with the release of the 25th anniversary Blu-ray edition of the film, and the Academy hosted a terrific show.
When the tickets were made available on-line they sold out within a day or two. The film was enormously popular when it was released and it has been a touchstone for film and animation enthusiasts ever since. I can’t take credit for the touchstone/Touchstone remark—that came from Rich Moore, director of Wreck-It Ralph, who was the moderator of the panel discussion that followed the film screening.
The event attendees were polite and mature in their behavior, although many of them hadn’t been born when the film was released. The enthusiasm for the film has some of the earmarks of coltishness, but it is not as though the adoration is a personal ‘find’ and a delight against all reason. There are ample reasons to delight in the film, and everybody has their own joys that they find in it. Mine – is that I had been a life-long animation enthusiast who found it difficult to share my enthusiasm with friends. I was in university when Robin Hood was released. I would have been harassed unmercifully if my interest in Disney animation had become known to my dorm-mates. Who framed Roger Rabbit made animation ‘cool’ again…and it made money, which increased the enthusiasm of the studios. Many people in the animation industry credit the film with ushering in a silver age of feature animation.
Academy member and veteran animation director Bill Kroyer introduced the screening. Bill was a young animator at the Disney studio prior to the first onslaught of CalArts grads, who included John Lasseter, Tim Burton, Brad Bird, Henry Selick, John Musker, Jerry Rees, and Darrell Van Citters. They were all frustrated with how Disney animation was functioning in the early-1980s. Read More.