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Academy Museum to Screen Rare Restoration of ‘The Thief and the Cobbler’

Dubbed ‘A Moment in Time,’ 2013 restoration represents the original vision legendary animator Richard Williams intended for his film before it was taken from his control and altered.

Legendary animator Richard Williams, renowned for his work on Who Framed Roger Rabbit, will have his rarely seen masterpiece, The Thief and the Cobbler: A Moment in Time, showcased at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. This special screening will take place on June 16, 2024, and will be followed by a discussion with museum senior exhibitions curator Jenny He and assistant curator Nicholas Barlow.

Williams spent over three decades meticulously crafting The Thief and the Cobbler, an animated feature celebrated for its stunning artistry and unique visual style. Drawing heavily from Persian motifs, the film employs hand-drawn animation to create a two-and-a-half-dimensional effect that captivates audiences with its complexity and beauty.

The Thief and the Cobbler: A Moment in Time represents the original vision Williams intended for his film before it was taken from his control and altered. This restoration, first presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2013, is based on Williams’s 1992 workprint, meticulously reconstructed by the filmmaker and the Academy Film Archive. It offers viewers the closest experience to Williams’s dazzling and imaginative creation.

The original release of the film was heavily criticized for the alterations made by other animators. The version released as Arabian Knight included what were viewed as unnecessary voiceovers and song sequences that deviated from Williams’s vision, diminishing the film’s artistic integrity. These changes were seen as a significant departure from the subtle and sophisticated animation Williams had created, leading to a fractured version that lost much of its original charm and complexity.

The June 16 event at the Academy Museum is part of their commitment to preserving significant works of animation and providing a platform to explore their historical and artistic contexts. For more information on the event and to purchase tickets, visit the Academy Museum website.