I’m not an animator, nor an animation historian. But it doesn’t take an animator or a historian to watch a George Pal Puppetoon short and immediately understand you are watching something undeniably brilliant, unique and utterly fantastic. The way the characters move, the tremendously colorful set designs, the integration of music and sound. It’s exquisite. Then, once you learn a bit about his replacement animation stop-motion technique and the way he charted out every single move of every puppet for every frame, it hits you just how sophisticated his productions were and how groundbreaking his work really was. To use an overused phrase, he was truly an artistic genius.
As more and more of the video market shifts to online digital distribution, it’s harder and harder to justify the costs of film restoration and remastering, especially for animated shorts over 70 years old that are mostly lost to the latest generation of animation lovers. That’s why when someone devotes the resources to such an undertaking, they deserve our admiration and support.
B2MP, a boutique video producer and distributor, with the support of Arnold Lebovit and Paramount Pictures, has put together the definitive George Pal collection, on Blu-ray, complete with a remastered High-Def copy of Leibovit’s 1987 The Puppetoon Movie, seven HD Puppetoon shorts never before released on video, a newly remastered HD copy of Pal’s feature, The Great Rupert, as well as standard-definition bonus materials such as 12 Puppetoons short transferred from their 35 mm masters, Leibovit’s great Pal documentary The Fantasy Film Worlds of George Pal as well as various interviews, trailers and commentaries. As if that’s not enough, two of the never before released on video shorts are Dr. Seuss pieces -And to Think I Saw it on Mulberry Street and The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins - made decades before the good doctor became a household name around the world. .
Known to many for his ground-breaking animated effects in films like The War of the Worlds and The Time Machine, Pal’s earlier animated short and commercial works, especially prior to his coming to the US from Europe, are almost impossible to find. Many of his Paramount shorts from the 1940s have never really seen a proper wide-release. It’s almost an embarrassment of riches to find so much pristine Pal material together in one place.
Take a moment to check out this one-of-a-kind compilation. Skip a few Happy Meals and overpriced grande lattes and order yourself a copy. This is a seminal animated film release and deserves a prominent place in your DVD collection.