9.11.2007

Twice Upon A Time: The Movie That Time Forgot (Part 1)

This is Part 1 of 2. Click here for Part 2.


Image courtesy of John Baker.



If you happen to buy the most recent (and dare I say best) issue of Amid Amidi's excellent Animation Blast, you will be treated to a breezy article on the making of a forgotten animated feature that was released during the not-so-hot-for-animation year of 1983. TWICE UPON A TIME is hardly a film that rolls off the lips of animators very easily. No listing on best-of lists. No pages devoted to it in most (if any) animation books. The film will probably offer a quirky tilt of the head like a dog hearing a high pitched noise for your average Joe Q. Moviegoer. What little is remembered of this small and unassuming film is murky. Cloudy. Bordering on urban legend. "Say, didn't Lucas direct that one?" Sigh. No, he didn't. But he did have a hand in getting it produced. Interested now? I was when I found out about this odd fact. In fact, exactly how I found out about this film was murky in itself. I don't really know how I found out about TWICE, but I do remember renting it back when you rented only VHS's. The box cover was faded. It looked dated. I rented it because of two things: 1) George Lucas was involved; and 2) It was supposedly animated using an unusual process of cut paper and lit from behind. This I had to see. The problem is, I don't really remember much about it after that. Why? What happened? Did I just succumb to the fates of this poor film? Was this an alternate to that crazy videotape in the horror film, THE RING, but instead of being killed off by a black-haired spook child, anyone who watches TWICE UPON A TIME will immediately forget about it, forever keeping this quirky little film in total and complete obscurity?

Apparently, writer Taylor Jessen didn't fall prey to the fates. Jessen, who writes on occasion for AWN, has probably been the most vocal advocate for this forgotten film, first writing about it back in 2004, to mark the 20th anniversary of its airing on HBO. Featuring "where are they now" interviews and updates on the main principals of the film, the article, along with the one in the Blast, revived my curiosity. Jessen's writing is engrossing. I couldn't help but get so immersed in the story of the film's battered production, of the way it was dropped after two weeks in theatres, how mastermind and director John Korty created Lumage, an animation technique that was basically translucent cutout fabric, how cameraman (and now big-time Hollywood director) David Fincher and Henry Selick (yes, the one and the same) almost got into fisticuffs, how a house was transformed into a make-shift studio, how tons of backgrounds and artwork were practically given away after production to a complete stranger off the street, etc. TWICE is a subject that Jessen holds very near and dear to him, remembering with fervent glee the PG version with cuss words (they were exorcised in the lasderdisc version released later), and reciting favorite lines with his sister as some sort of secret animation society, population: 2. TWICE UPON A TIME has never been released on DVD. It's not on any list of upcoming releases. This movie needs a white knight. Taylor just might be that knight. He's got his work cut out for him, however. Warner Bros, the company who owns the negative, has no interest in releasing it, apparently. Why? What's wrong with it? Is it any good?

After watching it recently, I really enjoyed the film. The pacing is a bit slow, but that's to be expected from a feature film released before the proliferation of MTV's quick cuts and fast edits. The animation is quite impressive, especially when you take into account that it's all done with cut paper. It's stop-motion with effects done in camera. To make all of it look effortless is no easy task. The animators had to cut out each and every character in order for them to move. Mind numbing! Crazy technique, but I think it's worth it. There are some scenes that are really amazing to watch, with jaw-dropping backgrounds and gorgeous scenery. I couldn't stop noticing all the beautiful layouts and colorful environments. The way the light filters through the translucent paper (pellon) gives the entire film a feel of a stained glass window coming to life, with rich textures and a warm glow. The characters are lovable oddballs, possessing some great voices from actors who were known for their improvisational skills and extreme dry wit and humor. The story is paper thin, however (pun intended), and the film suffers from the dreaded "dated" syndrome. It totally reeks of early 80's, thanks to the forgotten pop tunes that are scattered throughout the film. For a movie about getting stuck in time, it literally is stuck in time.


Image courtesy of John Baker.

But that doesn't mean that TWICE UPON A TIME should be forgotten. It's a landmark film for stop-motion animation, and for animation in general. There's some great animation as well as some great visuals -- it deserves to be seen and studied by animation professionals. It boggles the mind why there's a constant flow of direct-to-DVD releases of the wretched LAND BEFORE TIME series, yet TWICE UPON A TIME sits on a shelf somewhere, probably lost in a dark warehouse. Why is there not a DVD release of TWICE? How hard would it be to get it out there, offering a chance for it to find a whole new audience?

What can be done about this? Who knows. But if you want to know more, please read Taylor Jessen's previously mentioned article online first. Then, order Animation Blast #9 to read his other article on the making of the film. And lastly, keep reading...

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I finally cornered the mad busy Taylor Jessen to talk with him about TWICE UPON A TIME, to see if there have been any updates since writing his two articles on the film.


WARD: So after your pieces on TWICE UPON A TIME on your site and in the Animation Blast, has there been any new developments with the film?

TAYLOR: Negative still collecting dust somewhere. Wikipedia entry still hopelessly inaccurate. Former TWICE UPON A TIME animators very pleased. (They’d love to get that overtime pay someday, though.)


Image courtesy of John Baker.

Has there been any talk in the industry about getting a decent print of this film released onto DVD? Anything?

None that I know of. Last year I sent copies of Animation Blast to George Feltenstein, Ronnee Sass, and George Parker at Warner Home Video. But of course it’s one thing to think that a movie’s making-of story is interesting, and it’s quite another to decide that reissuing said movie on home video would make financial sense for your corporation. Let’s be honest, the only people who know about this film are animators and a few wise-ass GenX-ers who saw it on HBO back in the day. We’re a fickle crowd. Financially, reissuing some much-beloved Astaire & Rogers musicals or a box set of The O.C. is a much safer bet, and no doubt there are many catalogue titles that are a higher priority for WHV.


Who holds the distribution rights to the film - isn't it Warner Bros.? Is there any way that Warner Bros. could be persuaded to do something about this? Online petitions, perhaps? I mean, it's just sitting on the shelf, right? Collecting dust?

I believe that Warners holds the rights, since Alan Ladd told me that if he had George Lucas’ money he’d buy it back. I don’t know that there’s any way to persuade Warner Bros. to reissue TWICE on home video. Online petitions are highly unlikely to work (witness the battle to get Vivian Stanshall’s Men Opening Umbrellas Ahead album reissued at Warners). In John Korty’s words, “All it takes is for someone with clout to get interested.”

But there are several reasons to continue to think positively: First, no one who is now in charge at Warner Bros. probably cares about this film one way or the other. That’s an advantage, all things considered. Back in 1983, with Ladd Company turning into a profit sink after releasing good but profit-challenged movies like BLADE RUNNER and STAR 80 and THE RIGHT STUFF, many WB executives probably wished they could just pick up Alan Ladd’s little production shingle and dump it in the Yangtze. Now BLADE RUNNER's a classic, and TWICE UPON A TIME is just forgotten. That's a start. Second: despite the fact that Warner doesn’t have a projectable print, I think it’s very likely that the negative is safe and sound and probably very clean. You’d be amazed how good a film can look when a studio simply packs it in an airtight can and forgets about it for twenty years. Take PLAGUE DOGS, a film by the makers of WATERSHIP DOWN, which came and went in theaters in the mid-1980s. Rent that DVD tonight and prepare to be shocked – super-clean, vivid colors, looks like it was shot last week. (Also prepare to have your evening ruined, in the best possible way. You will cry buckets.)


What does Korty think about all this?

I don’t think Korty thinks about this film much anymore. He’s moved on. The latest film project of his that I know about, and I laughed helplessly at the beauty of it when he told me, involved Korty going up to people on the street with a digicam and asking them “So what’s your screenplay idea?” His interviewees would then expound their ideas over three to five minutes. He later strung them together into a feature-length documentary. Presto!


How hard was it for you to get a hold of all the people involved with the film for interviews, etc, for your articles? Was it easy for some to talk about their experiences of working on the film, hard for others?

It varied. Almost everybody was willing to talk to me until the cows came home. Animator Will Noble was a little reticent at first. Producer Sue Kennedy is a librarian now and has more or less relegated that part of her life to history. Editor Jennifer Gallagher was bloody impossible to find – my notes from trying to track her down run to four pages – but she was more than happy to talk for an hour long-distance from Germany. With David Fincher I really lucked out; he was in preproduction on Lords of Dogtown when animator Carl Willat called him up and suggested he talk to me. David phoned me up and we set up an interview in his Hollywood office, and we ended up yakking for three damned hours. How in hell could a man this busy afford to give some animation writer three hours of his time to talk about a movie on which he was basically a camera assistant? Simple – there was someone on the production of Dogtown who wanted him for a meeting and David wanted to avoid that meeting. I was his excuse.

Actually there is one person on the crew that the crew and I particularly wanted to re-connect with whom we never found, and her name is KERRY PETERSON. If anyone out there knows what became of Kerry, if she has a new last name, or where she may be, PLEASE let me know at Ironybread at Earthlink dot Net.


Image courtesy of John Baker.

Did you find any obstacles in writing your articles on TWICE?

I wish George Lucas had talked to me. I queried his office about an interview several times over several years, both while he was in production on Episode III and after it was released. He passed. And I wish I had been able to find that super-collector who went up to Korty when Korty Films was closing up shop and took so much animation art off of Korty’s hands. He still hasn’t come forward.


In your articles, you mention that there's stuff that was filmed but never made it in the movie. Care to go into more detail?

There are a lot of shots that the animators described that didn't make the final cut. Some of them got saved on various animators' demo reels. There's Greensleeves' death scene, which was originally meant to play right before Ralph gives the last unused dime back to FGM. There's an early scene with Ralph done when he was still voiced by Bud Cort. And Korty talked about a live action sequence that had to be cut: When Ralph and Mum are futzing with the hands of The Clock and time is fast-forwarding and rewinding, you can see just a few frames of what looks like a struggle involving some nuns in an elevator. What's actually going on there is that they're battling an inflatable woman. In a two-and-a-half-minute scene that was shot but didn't make the final cut, there are some nuns in an elevator, and a man enters carrying sex doll in his briefcase. And slowly it starts to self-inflate. The man with the suitcase is a talented pantomime named Geoff Hoyle.

Mark West animated a scene that was supposed to be inserted right after the nightmare with Ralph and Mum in the office: In the original cut, the paper cutter blade comes down on Mum, and Ralph can't find him after the nightmare is over. He thinks Mum's been shredded. He spends the next part of the movie really down, and he's wandering around the frozen landscape when he sees the Balloon guy in the park. Ralph goes into his ear, and starts wandering through the memories in the guy's head. He used to be a pilot, and his head is full of images of planes and flight, and at the end of the tunnel there's a child's drawing of a plane - and Ralph finds Mum there.

There's other footage and audio that may still exist. Brian Narelle says Entertainment Tonight came to the studio at one point, and later they broadcast a four-minute piece about the production. There's probably a demo version of the song "Twice Upon a Time" with vocals by Michael McDonald in one of Michael's storage units. And we hope somewhere there's a tape of the sessions at Abbey Road with the London Symphony Orchestra, because Maureen McDonald describes how the complete version of "Life Is But a Dream" does something we never knew about: "The amazing part comes right where they faded it out [after the lyric "...like dreams do", before the Fig is attacked by the vulture], which always bummed us out, because there was this huge bridge section that Mike wrote that really is a great moment."


Is it crazy to think that maybe some of this footage could be put in a Special Features section if TWICE gets released on DVD?

Licensing the outtakes would probably be a breeze, because it’s all Korty Films copyright. It all depends on what the animators kept for their demo reels. The Korty Films archives on TWICE UPON A TIME is very very small because of what happened when the studio closed, but a lot of animators kept workprint footage as resume material. Which is yet another example of how, in the end, the artist is usually his/her own best archivist. The bigger the company, the more likely the thing will be saved. On Lilo and Stitch, they animated a very funny Big Chase Scene Finale where an airliner did a 90-degree barrel roll between a row of buildings and knocked the ice cream off a pedestrian’s ice cream cone. That footage still exists, because there is a Disney Archives. On the other hand Harley made all those great translight backgrounds for TWICE UPON A TIME. Those don’t exist, because there was a garage sale. When we catch ourselves thinking “Boy, I hope somebody’s keeping this footage/artwork/music” it’s probably a sure sign that the answer is no, so when in doubt, we must always remember to pony up the cash for that DigiBeta/hi-res scan/CD dupe and make that digital clone and take it home and wrap it in plastic and KEEP IT!


After watching the film, I couldn't help but notice how, um, dated it felt, mostly with the songs. Do you think that this could be one of the reasons why TWICE UPON A TIME is not high priority in WB's eyes to release the film on DVD?

Definitely. Actually as we know the equation is very complicated but in this case that may be the variable that counts most. Every studio would like every film in its catalogue to be a revenue stream, but every DVD title is an investment in terms of restoration/authoring/art direction – so before they make it the home video department has to figure out how to sell it. Popular titles sell. Historically important titles get made even if they don’t sell because they generate prestige. TWICE UPON A TIME is a tough sell because it’s not popular and not everyone is convinced it’s historically important.

Let’s line up TWICE UPON A TIME against, say, OUTLAND. They’re both Warner Bros. / Ladd Company films, and they’re both still not in profit. OUTLAND stars Sean Connery – major audience draw. It had a wide theatrical release and has been recycled endlessly on TV, so lots of people have seen it. Plus the movie is still not in profit. Three really good incentives to squeeze some more blood from that stone and get it out on DVD. Result: yes, it’s available on DVD.

TWICE UPON A TIME has no star name attached except George Lucas, and he skews sci-fi, NOT animated comedy, so already you’re confusing people if you put his name on the box. TWICE is not in heavy rotation on TV so very few people have seen it – Ralph, Mum, and Botch are not familiar faces. There will not be high demand for this DVD. So already Warners is taking a chance on making their costs back just by paying to put it out.

In the end you’re left with a movie that has no cultural baggage, because it’s just a complete blank to almost everyone. A lot of the motivation behind a DVD reissue could simply come from whether or not the decision-makers at Warner Home Video like it – or think their kids would. I don’t think they do, and yes, the music is probably a big reason why not. The movie suffers that terrible Pop Disease where you put what you know is a sure-fire hit song in your movie, and then you wake up in ten years and realize that you ended THE ADDAMS FAMILY with a song by MC Hammer. WHEN THE WIND BLOWS also has the Pop Disease. Those original songs by Roger Waters and David Bowie simply screamed NOW! in 1986, and now they just scream THEN!

Of course you can take all this theorizing and COMPLETELY DISREGARD IT, because ROCK AND RULE got its own two-disc special edition, and there’s even a DVD of THE LAST UNICORN. If THE LAST UNICORN can get its own DVD, anything can.


Do you think that hey, since Lucas has tinkered with his baby, the original STAR WARS films, that maybe, just maybe, he would be willing to do the same with TWICE UPON A TIME?

Somebody might want to tinker with it, but Lucas won’t. He couldn’t even find the motivation to sit for a one-hour phone interview about TWICE UPON A TIME.


What was it like connecting with people who worked on a film that made such an impression on you when you were young?

This was nothing short of magic. I relate to this film first of all as a fan. By making this film, this crew made me laugh. I respect that a lot. So connecting with the crew, the actors and the animators and the creators who made this film so damned funny, was like meeting Rod Rescueman.


Since CG hasn't entirely made stop-motion obsolete, do you think that there are people out there willing to give Lumage a try? Or has technology made it virtually moot? Or do you think that it's not really worth all the trouble?

There are two reasons to do traditional Lumage animation: one, to do Lumage animation, and two, to produce animation in a Lumage style. If you consider only the second reason, there’s no practical reason to do traditional Lumage at all. Lumage has three basic parameters: The characters are made of Pellon. The backgrounds are translucent and lit from behind. The animation is performed in cut-out. So consider the Pellon first: Use acrylics and it looks X. Dip it in a bucket of paint and it looks Y. Dab at it selectively with watercolors and it looks Z. Add movement from frame-to-frame and it can take on any quality from a solid block of color to a wild boil. But all of that can be simulated in CGI. Despite all its complexity as a physical object with light shining through it, when you simulate it Pellon becomes just another texture whose behavior is more or less predictable. Even that watercolor boil can be simulated if you introduce a defined randomness. Then there’s the backgrounds – at Korty Films they used huge transparencies with blown-up photos or painted designs. Again, easy to simulate in CGI. Then there’s the cut-out style, with that signature funky, jerky movement. South Park has been doing that digitally for years. So if your goal is simply to create something that looks like Lumage, you don’t need to do traditional Lumage. You can do it in the computer. No fuss, no mess.

What worries me is that no one’s doing Lumage for the first reason, which is to do Lumage. Animating in coiled wire requires a unique skill set. Animating in sand requires a unique skill set. Flash, After Effects, cotton balls, Lumage, Maya, all these animation techniques require unique skill sets. And I don’t think it behooves us to decide that we have nothing left to learn from Lumage. The more skills you know, the better an artist you are, no matter what your medium. And everyone who’s transitioned from traditional animation to 3D knows that even though they’re very different skill sets, there’s always thing A that the animator learned over there in the Traditional world that helped enormously when it came time to do thing B over here in CGI. Imagine what we still can learn from Lumage. And the materials are certainly there. We still have Pellon, we still have transparencies, we still have light boxes, we still have big planes of glass. Animators can do it, so animators probably should do it, because a good artist never stops learning. That’s the personal enrichment angle. Which is to say nothing of the aesthetic angle. I love how Lumage looks, and I want more. And it doesn’t have to look like it did when Korty did it – the field is wide open. Here’s this amazing technique that one American studio used for twenty years, and then they stopped, and that was it. Think of all the copper left down in that mine!


What's next for the film?

What’s next is, an animation producer or director who grew up with TWICE UPON A TIME and loved it needs to bite the bullet and do another film just like it. We need a new animated feature done in exactly the same style. Or maybe something that looks like Lorenzo. Or Toot Whistle Plunk & Boom. Something where you can tell the designers have cast off the shackles and are having the time of their lives. It must come from an established animation studio who can sell it based on the performance of their previous features, but it can’t look or sound like any of those features. It has to get that visual style and that improv sensibility out there in one film, and this film must look and sound as unlike Shrek as possible. The voice direction has to be improv-driven, which means it has to be guided by animation people who’ve already worked in that milieu. Tom Snyder’s Soup2Nuts team could do it, or maybe Christopher Guest could do it using his repertory company, Shearer and O'Hara and Levy et al, who as a group have logged some impressive hours as animation voice-over professionals.

The point is, a production entity with an established brand has to take TWICE UPON A TIME into its hearts and RIP IT OFF, MERCILESSLY. We need another movie with all the glee and all the memorable characterizations and all the beautiful oddball design sense of TWICE. Once that happens, and audiences learn to read the style, the TWICE UPON A TIME DVD reissue will take care of itself.


For the uninitiated, where can one go to view TWICE? What's the best possible copy out there?

For optimum viewing, purchase a laserdisc player (very possible) and the TWICE UPON A TIME laserdisc (very impossible). If you don’t want to get that involved, buy the VHS. Five copies are currently available for $42 and under from the big webseller with the river in the title.


Thanks, Taylor, for taking the time to answer my questions about TWICE UPON A TIME. Let's hope that we'll be seeing this lost animated gem available again one day.

Thanks for asking. Skål! And remember everybody: KERRY PETERSON. First person to find her gets a copy of Animation Blast and a free can of Buzz Cola. Email me at ironybread at earthlink dot net.

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Thanks to Taylor, I've got some images from various sources about the making of the film. (Click on each image to view it larger.)

From ASIFA-Hollywood's GRAFFITI newsletter, 1981:



The following images were from American Cinematographer, May 1983:

This is a great shot of animators' hands carefully preparing nightmare bombs on cut-out images of workers in the office scene:


Camera set-up of the office scene:


Various sequential cut-outs of Mum:



Here's a storyboard sequence with some potential gags by Kai Pindal:


Frivoli character cut-outs:


Below are some screengrabs of the film. Oh, and a word or two about these screengrabs before you see them: they were taken from a VHS copy of a VHS copy of the film. So, we're talking not the best quality here. And I apologize for that. But it's some way for you all to get some sense of what this film looks like, to excite and inspire you. More will be posted with Part Two. Again, click on each image to view larger:




















This is the end of Part One. What's in store for Part Two? Why, an interview with the art director of TWICE UPON A TIME, Harley Jessup! Expect that, along with some more screengrabs soon.

UPDATE: Click here for Part 2.

34 comments:

  1. Cool Ward. Nice thorough post. You really spend a lot of time on these, and it shows. Ever since I got that issue of Animation Blast, I've been curious about that movie. I really like the look they achieved...beautiful colors and textures. I hope to catch it on video one day.

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  2. I'm dating myself here, but I saw "Twice Upon A Time" in the theater during the original release. I think there were maybe four of us in the house, and I was the only one laughing. My date didn't get it, but I loved it.

    I've been hoping it would be released on DVD at some point. It's a truly unique film, with beautiful animation and quite a bit of humor. It doesn't deserve to be forgotten.

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  3. Wow ward, great post! I was about to buy a copy of the movie and then found the entire thing posted on Google video.

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2120572902430934061&q=twice+upon+a+time&total=192&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=0

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  4. Yeah, I've seen that on Google video, Bill, but opted not to post it here because of just how bad quality it is. In fact, that is worse than my VHS-copy-of-a-VHS-copy version. I feel that viewing the film on the internet is doing a disservice to the filmmakers and all who worked on TWICE! All the more reason for us to harp on WB to release the film on DVD.

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  5. I wish I go out to the local video store and just pick it up.

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  6. I'm one of those wise ass gen xers that saw it on HBO! I'm always trying to get people to recall it, so i'm glad some people do! I'd buy it on dvd in a heart beat~

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  7. I watched this on cable and have never forgotten it.

    It was a brilliant film.

    I really hope a DVD comes about.

    The weird part: I was just thinking about this film yesterday.

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  8. Ah, "Twice Upon A Time" "the greatest animated feature you've never heard of"

    Thanks for posting this , Ward !

    My teacher , Kaj Pindal, worked on this , and he had a 35mm print (the "uncensored version") which he showed to us at Sheridan College in the summer of '82 or '83 (my memory fades as to the exact year...)

    So, you'll probably want to take a look at what I just posted on my blog :

    John Korty article on Animation in The Bolex Reporter - 1963

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  9. This guy has an anecdote here:
    http://www.drewprops.com/?p=154
    about how John Korty told him that Tim Burton had worked on "Twice Upon a Time" and had directly ripped off a sequence when directing Batman Returns. i'm somewhat incredulous - i mean, i know Tim Burton used to be an animator and allwhat, but i never heard of him working on the picture. Then again, by his own admission this dude was at one point into convincing people that Warwick Davis was dead of pneumonia so, who knows, he may just be bi-polar or something... can anyone confirm or deny the Tim Burton thing?

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  10. I've never heard of this movie before. How interesting!

    Well, I just took a peek at the google video... that is awful, I stopped about a minute in. I'll hope for a DVD release, or maybe for a VHS copy to show up on ebay.

    I did hear a few bars of music. Yes it does sound "of its time", but so does the music in "Heavy Metal" and no one complains about that. Maybe we just aren't far enough from the 80's yet to stop being self-concious about it.

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  11. I saw this on TV years ago (in Australia), and have been keeping an eye out for it ever since. Thanks for the post, but I'm fairly sure I feel worse now that I know it's unlikely to ever be released. :(

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  12. It would be great to see a new animated feature created in this format - or any alternative format.

    If you could take Pixar's storytelling abilities and marry it to an old school technique like this, that would be fun. The original character designs for Monsters, Inc. were kind of jazzy and stylized and I often think about what the film would have looked like in that format vs the slick 3D look.

    The computer removes the painstaking process of cutting out paper, setting up lights so they don't start a fire with your background, and you don't need to take over someone's house to make your film.

    Then again, all of that stuff is just so much goshdarn FUN. That's what makes filmmaking so attractive to people who enjoy cutting out paper, balancing a scrim while pressing the shutter, and other painstaking little tasks like that.

    I would love to see this film, but I would also love to create something like this. Pretty inspirational.

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  13. Wasn't there a gorilla with a tv head in this, or something?

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  14. I had a copy of this movie... funny thing, I can't remember AT ALL what this movie is about. Cool animation though, that's why I copied it. I wonder if I still have it somewhere.

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  15. Yes Josh, there is a 'video gorilla' named Ibor in the film. According to the Animation Blast article, they actually stuck a real tiny TV monitor underneath the cut-outs, which were on a sheet of glass. Very innovative stuff.

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  16. Wow thats a great review. I can really tell you took time on this.
    I have a DVD of the HBO version and I must say it is just great..

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  17. FIRST - you have no idea who I am, don't be alarmed, I come in peace.

    SECOND - holy shit dude! this might be the longest post I've ever seen. Yowza!

    THIRD - I've been visiting your blog for a while, and though I have yet to comment, I've just added you to my own list of lurkings...you're welcome! ;)

    LAST - I'm amazed by your work, really, really impressed by all facets and the symetry sings so loudly that I'm crumbling under heavy waves of "I'm not worthy" vibes.

    Cheers!

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  18. Hi,

    So strange... I had completely forgotten about this movie until I stumbled upon your site today (via your wife's site).

    I was about 12 in 1983, and my brother was about 14, and we were fairly obsessed with this film. I imagine we first saw it on HBO or something, but we taped it to VHS and watched it MANY times.

    Cool post!

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  19. After reading your post, I got to thinking, "I believe I have that laser disc somewhere..." I dug it out and took a look. I am surprised to find out that owning a laser disc of this film is like having a rare gem. Anyone know the price range of it? It truly is a beautiful work of art. I seem to recall seeing it on HBO and thought that it had some foul language in it that had been edited from the laser disc release. I believe that it was Botch delivering the "objectionable" lines. Does anyone else remember this?

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  20. Cartoon Network ran this once, in the early days of Cartoon Theater when they actually showed animated films and not direct-to-video schlock. Its mostly a blur in my memory, but I do remember loving Lorenzo Music's voice. And Join Rivers...was Joan Rivers a voice too? As the fairy? Anyhow, fantastic post Ward! I'm hankering for part II.

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  21. http://joox.net/id/1899798 Hurry now before its gone. Its the uncensored version! Awesome.

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  22. Wait! That's not all!

    Not only did I post it on Stage 6 i.e. Joox, I've also got another copy of the same file up and running for full download at Veoh.

    Here's the Stage 6 link:
    http://stage6.divx.com/user/JSO33/video/1899798/TUAT

    and here's the VEOH link:
    http://www.veoh.com/videos/v1548123YXhtXEcN

    And, wouldn't ya know, JennyVision is selling (for $27.95) a bootleg DVD of the same version. Curiously enough, on the cover, it is mis-rated "R" (proof of bootleg status). Here is THAT link:

    http://www.jennyvision.com/$Twice%20Upon%20A%20Time%20(R).htm

    This was an outstanding post, Ward. I've never seen your blog before, but I will stay a-tooned to it. :)

    Now I spent ALL night last night trying to get this stuff together, so you'd better be grateful and spread the word to all "Time" fans out there!!!!

    After all, it's never too late for Thanksgiving...or to do it all over again.

    --JSO

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  23. Thank you JSO. A veeerrry useful contribution to human happiness!
    (My students are going to LOVE this!)

    And Ward, keep us notified when this is published on DVD!

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  24. Hey guys, I'm the (retired) propguy to whom Korty related the story about Tim Burton stealing the scene with the birds from Twice Upon a Time.... it's totally true that he told us that story, and he really was still very cross about not being able to sue Burton and the studio. I'm still laughing at the person who left a comment suggesting that I might be bi-polar because I told Korty that Warwick Davis was dead of pneumonia!! Back in those pre-internet days it was one of the SERIOUS rumors floating around the geek network in Atlanta. It's almost hard to remember the days before we had the internet (and things like snopes.com), but back in those days we'd hear the wildest rumors about stuff but had no way to prove it until months and months later when we'd read an article with all the facts in a magazine. I still feel terrible at having told Korty that Warwick was rumored to have died because it *really* hit him hard. Stupid pre-internet dayz. :(

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  25. I was the co-composer of the TUAT score. We must have had 10 or more sessions with the London Symphony (since we had to go back to Abbey Road because of all the editing), it turned out quite well. We even had Bill Bruford playing Simmons (electronic) drums on it. Bruce Hornsby of course, before he hit it big. And we did try to get Mike McDonald to sing on one of his songs, but his agent and label thought he was overexposed at the time. His sister, Maureen, had this gorgeous voice on the tunes that really reminds one of Gloria Estefan. I have a Laserdisc of the film, but no laser player. We have all the original master tapes of all the music sessions. As I mentioned in the AB article, Lucas was very wishy-washy in the review sessions. "That's very nice, oh ya, good, good." Very soft and Andy Warholish. But his brilliant editor-wife Marsha was an attack dog. "Cut this. Lose that. Move that. Upcut this. Trim that." She was sharp and focused and really helped the film a lot. I grew to respect her enormously in the process. Thanks to all for keeping the torch burning.

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  26. "They tapdance not, neither do they fart."

    "Dark is not one of my favorite colors."

    "Please don't press my buttons."

    I'm old enough to remember watching it on HBO, to remember my cousin freaking out about her toddler watching it when Botch mutters profanity under his breath, and somewhere--I hope--I have the Cartoon Network showing on tape. My best friend and I still drop dialogue into our daily conversations.

    And now I feel so incredibly hip for all of that.

    I dream of a DVD release...

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  27. Hey I saw this movie for the first time when I was a wee boy of only 6 years old. It's been my favorite since then, but I lost the VHS a long while back. For a while I was beginning to think I imagined the whole movie up, since no one I talked to had ever even heard of it! I do hope WB releases it in DVD for some good old nostalgia. Thanks a ton for doing the post and reviving this long forgotten movie at least a little bit!

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  28. Ive been looking for this movie for about 18 years. It seems like my sister and I are the only people we know who have seen it. I really want to have this on DVD, as a VHS player is rare. I saw this as a young person, but Id like to watch it as an adult.

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  29. "Twice Upon A Time" may once again be available on DVD, thanks to the Warner Archive Collection! Keep an eye on their Twitter and Facebook accounts.

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  30. Ive checked Warner Archives, they show no listing or any news about a release for Twice Upon A Time.
    That once again is unfortunate, I would just like to be able to watch this again at some point.Its just completely stupid in this day and age that any movie should unavailable. I guess Warner and GL have so much money that this just doesn't matter to make it available again. Annoying.

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  31. Great post. I loved this movie, and have a copy of the sanitized version on VHS. Something reminded me of it, so I googled and here I am. Sure wish WB would release it.

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  32. Sounds like Warners is planning a disc release sometime in the next 12-18 mos. But nothing imminent.

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  33. So glad I found this post. I remembered having a book called Twice Upon a Time as a kid but had never heard of such a book again and thought maybe I dreamed it up. When I saw the images I realized that it was a kid's book based on the movie. It must have been part of the merchandising. Will definately have to check out the film. Thanks!

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  34. OMG, great article. So glad to see the movie is at least talked about. I still say to "my kids" all the time "Welcome to the Garbagery" :-). I had forgotten the name of the movie. I would so love to see it again.

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