It sucks beyond all manner of sucking that Don Bluth Month had to end on such a low note, because this overview began on such an emotional high. When you go back and watch Bluth's early films, they are absolutely beautiful. Hell, I even appreciate the animation [if not the story content] of "All Dogs Go to Heaven" now. When you watch "Anastasia" or "Titan A.E.", they have moments of absolute beauty as well. So that brings us to the unspoken, awkward question that I'm sure is on the mind of a lot of Don Bluth fans including myself:
What went wrong in-between "The Land Before Time" and "Thumbelina"? (The answer is probably "Rock-A-Doodle", but I have a hard time picking on a film I didn't get to watch. Yes, "GET to"; at least it would have been a hell of a lot more interesting than "The Pebble and the Penguin".) How could the man who so hated "baby talk" and sh**ty animation possibly go on to make "The Pebble and the Penguin"? How could a person sound so excited in the commentary track about the new technology he got to play with in "Titan A.E." go on to make... *nothing*? How does the director who made the movies that shaped the childhood of every person around my age, even more so than Disney, seemingly vanish without a trace? Where the hell is he know that we need him?
We do. We need Don Bluth to come back, and we need more people to pick up his "animation is an art form and should be treated as such" mantle. Because right now, the world of animated films is a grim place indeed. My heart goes heavy when I wonder if there's even a place for a hand-drawn, totally analogue animated feature film in today's "Eh, let's make another 3D live-action/CGI movie based on a beloved -or not- vintage cartoon" environment.
(Addressing another sauropod in the room: Yes, I know the next Toon to get this treatment will be Bugs Bunny. And as a fan of classic Looney Tunes, after years and years of things like "Space Jam" and "Loonatics" and other monstrosities of that ilk, I'm just too exhausted to muster as much outrage as I should about this. I can only heave a sigh that sounds suspiciously like this: "Goddammitsomuchwarnerbrothers...")
I don't want this to end on a total bummer. So I should note that "Bartok the Magnificent" isn't the last we ever saw of Don Bluth, thankfully. He has a very nice website, and he has made several books and CDs about art and animation principles. And there is this little oddity called "The Gift of the Hoopoe", which was apparently directed by Don Bluth. Sadly, there is hardly any information outside of IMDB and those storyboards about this short film.
I also need to finally share what I was working on during the month:
Painting of the Month! Click for huge:
It's called "There Had Never Been Such a Herd Before". It is my humble tribute to "The Land Before Time" and my entry in Art Evolved's "Pop Culture" gallery. I figure that when I ever feel the need to do fanart, I better go big.
I'd like to take the time to thank the /Filmcast, Sci-Fi Saturday Night, and Science Sort Of for helping me not go insane while painting this.
EDIT: Got some love from the lovely "Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs" blog. Thanks, David!