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On A Desert Island With....Animated Feature Directors

A survey of this season's animated feature directors answering, What ten films would you want to have with you if stranded on a desert island?

This month, we caught up with the directors of three of this season's biggest animated features, and asked each of them what films they would want to have with them if stranded on a desert island. Eric Darnell, co-director of DreamWorks/Pacific Data Image's successful ANTZ, has been with PDI since 1991 directing the award-winning short, Gas Planet. He also assisted with computer animation research and development for DreamWorks' upcoming feature, The Prince of Egypt. Kevin Altieri is the director/writer/producer of the highly-anticipated upcoming direct-to-video feature Gen13: The Movie. He was also the director of Pearl Jam's Do the Evolution video, a director on Batman: The Animated Series and an Eisner award-winning comic artist. Norton Virgien is co-director of the hit feature, The Rugrats Movie, as well as having worked on many seasons of the Rugrats television series. He was previously a commercial director in New York, produced the animation sequence for the live-action feature Nine to Five (1980) and worked on the animated feature Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland.

Eric Darnell's Top Ten:

1. O. Henry's Full House (Henry Hathaway, Howard Hawks, 1952) -- This is a collection of O. Henry short stories put to film. I actually haven't seen this movie since I was a kid, but The Last Leaf and The Ransom of Red Chief have stuck with me over the years. Every time I try to retell The Last Leaf to anybody I break down and cry like a baby. I've looked around for this film, but it doesn't seem to be available on video. I recently read some of the short stories the film covers and remember liking the movie better than I like the text. I wonder how I'd respond to the film today. It might be really sappy?

2. Odd Man Out (1947) -- This is one of my favorite Carol Reed films. I'd also love to bring The Third Man but I feel partially covered by Welles' The Trial.

3. Orphée (akaOrpheus) (1949) -- It was hard to pick between this and Jean Cocteau's version of Beauty and the Beast. I love the very simple and elegant effects. Bringing this movie will also give me the chance to learn how to say phrases like, "The bird sings with its fingers" in French.

4. A Short Film Collection -- I'm cheating here, but why should short films get the shaft? I'd build my own collection with works from Tex Avery, Stan Brakhage, Bruce Conner, Maya Deren, Jules Engel, Oskar Fishinger, Chuck Jones, George Kuchar, Len Lye, Norman McLaren, Harry Smith and others.

5. Solyaris (aka Solaris) (1972) -- I'll probably kick myself for bringing any film by Andrei Tarkovsky, but what the heck. This one is based on a science fiction story by Lem. I haven't seen it for about 20 years. It was supposed to be out on DVD by now, but I haven't found it.

6. Strangers on a Train (1951) -- I don't know why I'm bringing this Hitchcock film! I've seen it a million times, but it is hard to beat. Alfred is particularly ruthless here.

7. Le Procès (aka The Trial)(1963) -- I suppose it's not very original, but Orson Welles is one of my favorite filmmakers. It's one of the few films Welles made that didn't get butchered by others. I wish I could bring all of his movies. It's worth bringing this one just for the scene in the Advocate's bedroom.

8. Twilight of the Ice Nymphs (1997) -- I've not seen this recent film by the Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin, but I saw a short film by him on one of the Short Cinema Journal DVDs that blew me away. I then tracked down a video copy of Maddin's Tales From Gimly Hospital which is extremely bizarre, but has several truly inspired moments. I wonder what Twilight is like? I'll risk it.

9. Woodstock (Michael Wadleigh, 1970) -- This way I can have some music.

10. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968) -- I'll put this one on in the background while I work on my raft.

Kevin Altieri's Daunting Twenty

1. Foreign Correspondent (Alfred Hitchcock, 1940). 2. Scaramouche (George Sidney II, 1952). 3. A Bridge Too Far (Richard Attenborough, 1977). 4. A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick, 1971). 5. Shichinin no samurai (Seven Samurai) by Akira Kurosawa (1954). 6. Kumokiri nizaemon (Hideo Gosha, 1978). 7. and 8. Hayao Miyazaki's The Castle of Cagliostro (1979) and Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986). 9. Blood on Satan's Claw (Piers Haggard, 1971). 10. and 11. Richard Lester's The Three Musketeers (1973) and The Four Musketeers (1974). 12. The War of the Worlds (Byron Haskin, 1953). 13. Bride of Frankenstein (James Whale, 1935). 14. The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (Nathan Juran, 1958). 15. Henry V (Laurence Olivier, 1944). 16. Great Expectations (David Lean, 1946). 17. and 18. George Stevens' Shane (1953) and Gunga Din (1939). 19. The War Lord (Franklin J. Schaffner, 1965). 20. The Vikings (Richard Fleischer, 1958). Norton Virgien's Favorites 1. Fantasia (Disney, 1940) -- Such grand ambition. 2. Allegro Non Troppo by Bruno Bozzetto (1976) -- Fantasia alternative. 3. Dumbo (Disney, 1941) -- It's simple, sweet and nearly perfect. 4. The Castle of Cagliostro by Hayao Miyazaki (1979) -- We all learned from this one. 5. Ralph Bakshi's Heavy Traffic (1973) -- Certainly not Disney. 6. Yellow Submarine (TVC, 1968) -- Also not Disney. 7. The Secret of NIMH by Don Bluth (1982) -- The challenge that re-awoke Disney. 8. Who Framed Roger Rabbit by Robert Zemeckis (1988) -- Brilliant concept, brilliantly executed. 9. Toy Story (Disney/Pixar, 1995) -- Simply brilliant. 10. The Rugrat's Movie (Viacom, 1998) -- Of course.

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