TheThief and the Cobbler-aka The Princess and the Cobbler (1993)

The Thief and teh Cobbler

Zig-Zag the Grand Vizier (left, voice of Vincent Price) and King Nod (right, voice of Clive Revill) from "The Thief and the Cobbler" 1993

This film’s history is a tale within itself, having (technically) been in production 31 years. The Thief and the Cobbler (also know under the name “The Princess and the Cobbler“)  went through a host of changes and alterations, various voices introduced to characters (the voice of Tack the Cobbler was originally voiced by Sean Connery, in the Allied Films version Tack was voiced by Steve Lively and  finally, the Miramax version had Steve Lively singing and Matthew Broderick’s voice), rewrites, delays…the sort of thing that happens to a lot of animated films but none so extensive as this one. The end result, however, is what I consider a must-see classic.

The story begins as so many stories do, once upon a time, in this grand city where the lives of a timid cobbler, a thief (voice of Johnathan Winters in the Miramax version-the thief never spoke in the original version), a King, his daughter, Princess Yum-Yum, and the royal Vizier Zig-Zag (voice of Vincent Price, who recorded his dialogue for this movie from 1967 to 1973). When Tack the cobbler upsets the Vizier, he is taken to the palace to be executed. Princess Yum-Yum falls in love with the cobbler and saves his life. Tack decides he wants to marry the Princess and succeed King Nod, and while all this is going on, the shifty thief is trying to steal three large golden orbs that are perched on a tower high above the city-unbeknownst (or maybe just unimportant) to the thief, the orbs guard the city from being attacked by the One Eye Army.

As good as the story is, the artwork is twice as entertaining. The thematic look is based off ancient Persian design concepts and the mesmerizing backgrounds of checkerboards and inlaid color give it a rich, hypnotic quality . The way one scene will fold into the next keeps the pace of the storyline going. See for yourself and I think you’ll agree that this masterpiece from Canadian animator Richard Williams  (probably best know state side for his Art Direction of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit“) is a classic among fairy tales.

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