One day watching The Adventures of Mark Twain by Will Vinton I started to piece the puzzles of my childhood entertainment, and where it came from. In the world where corporations are merging, going through bankruptcy, being bought out, having assets sold (intellectual rights ) or all of the above or combination. In this case – even though the corporate end is worth knowing – I wanted to know the artist, and people that the legacy has lived beyond the life. After great thought and deliberation I have decided on four (five) individuals (No secrets, look at the title).
There were certain criterion when deciding on the top four (five), and that is placed at the bottom, so you the reader do not get completely bored while waiting for the list.
Walt Disney, Jim Henson, Will Vinton, and Aurthur Rankin Jr. & Jules Bass have dominated my childhood cinematic and television existence more than anyone else. These are the producers, directors, thinkers, and tinkers of different worlds with each style is different, the mediums which they tell their stories varies from each other.
Walt Disney with all his flaws (only human) created some of the most beloved programing that will remain at the top of the mountain. The legacy that he created did not stop on December 15, 1966 when he passed away.
He and his group of imagineers helped prepare me for the future genre of horror. Movies such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Sleeping Beauty have some of the most terrifying scenes that one could watch (at any age). There are brilliant stories as well as the three listed, but also (my favorites) Robin Hood, and The Sword in the Stone which I would argue are the best two adaptions (adult or children) for their particular parent story (Robin Hood & King Aurthur) in the history of film. Other adaptations that I watched continuous as a child were from book to film were Winnie the Pooh, Marry Poppins, and Bedknobs and Broomsticks. The list can continue form the 90’s to the most recent revival.
Jim Henson is another one that his legacy inspired others way passed his passing away. The Muppets were the most awesome creature like beings of television and film for a child, and even today going to the theater with of child at age five or was it four the movie seemed more for me than for him. When Kermit is walking through his mansion he sings “Pictures in My Head,” and watching the still framed pictures of the other Muppets become living 3d hallucinations make me (almost) tear up.
Jim Henson has did not just rely on Kermit the Frog, but also he used Muppets in other ways such as Yoda in two of the three Star Wars movie (the only three worth mentioning). There were films such as the Dark Crystal, and the Labyrinth. Then there were televisions shows such as Fraggle Rock, and The Storyteller.
Will Vinton is the most obscure and the most alive out the four chosen. He pretty much lurks in the shadows, and unless you par take in a Google search or watch the extras in the The Adventures of Mark Twain most likely you will not know who he is. He is responsible for some of the best motion picture with the use of clay that one could possibly create. He even coined the term “claymation.”
He is the one responsible of the California Raisins, Christmas features that spotlighted dinosaurs, the claymation of Return to OZ, the M&M characters on the commercial (you know the sentient beings that will be eaten), a short version of Rip Van Winkle, and of course The Adventures of Mark Twain. There are other projects as well he worked on.
Vinton was not always the most child friendly production and creation team, but his claymation saturated at least two decades of fun TV shorts, TV movies, and commercials.
Aurthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass has produced or/and directed a good portion of the holiday classic cartoon, and stop motion animation that were born in the 70’s to the 80’s. They have not only gave life to those classic TV movies/shorts, but also gave life to tradition and current mythology. Aurthur Rankin Jr. recently passed away in the beginning of 2014, and according to IMDB he was a “consultant producer” of the latest Thundercats.
Did you notice in the movie, Miracle on 34th Street the 1947 version, that Kris Kingle walks down the street all jovial then notices the store worker is placing the reindeer in the wrong order there were no mention of Rudolph “the most famous” reindeer? Even though there has been references in the past, and even cartoon shorts before Rankin and Bass’s version that was aired in 1967 on NBC solidified Rudolph’s statue in the pantheon of as the “Savior of Christmas”.
They have re-told stories not only of the reindeer, but also colorful and extreme imaginative stories of Santa, Jack Frost, Biblical stories, the Easter Bunny, and Frosty. They were responsible to the best filmed version of the Hobbit (Peter Jackson has nothing), and of course created The Flight of the Dragons (Don McLean helped the soundtrack by performing “The Flight of the Dragons”), and of course The Last Unicorn.