I’ve just closed the door for the night of the small Thunderbean office after a day of sorting labels and packing and packing. Catching up is approaching, but all that matters is trying to get as much out the door each day as possible. Now, back at home, I’m looking forward to sitting down and fixing little things on some of the Rainbow Parades, but I need to write this first before taking a look. At times I’m convinced this stuff is all driving me crazy, but at other times I realize how much I really enjoy this particular hobby that has turned into a little business.
Thunderbean is located on the second floor of an office building full of little start ups and small businesses. There’s a guy next to me building websites when he’s not playing on his drum kit, a CD and DVD duplication service, A video game company full of early 20-something up at all hours of the night, a union office, insurance company, massage therapist and more than one counselor. I’ve taken on the task of helping the new owners of this large building with various repairs and updating tasks, something I really enjoy when it works out. I’ve had my battles with replacing 60-year old sinks these last few weeks, and these are particular battles that I’d rather leave to others at some times and embrace at others.
Giving good presentations of classic films sort of scratches the same itch, oddly. As with the sinks in this unusual building, being used by all these disparate small businesses, the cartoon sets find all sorts of uses that I’ll never know about, from at home to school presentations and everything inbetween. I feel like the collectors now are often filling a missing gap in presenting these films to others, so I hope to do my part in making sure they are good quality representations of those productions. In the end, just the original film should be present, not the effort to present it or, in my opinion, any aspect that alters the original intention of the production.
The one thing I wish I could somehow get into a Blu-Ray or DVD is the tactile nature of the materials involved, from opening an ancient can, repairing ailing splices or staring through light at IB Technicolor images to the smell of the film, reels and equipment. There’s a great scene in Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949) where Mr. Toad, dressed in his nightgown escape outfit, rides on the engine of a train, pulling all the controls and knobs, then smelling the smoke coming out of the engine; he’s truly ‘in’ the whole experience. It’s similar to enjoying *any* pursuit that has a tactile nature. Hard to smell the computer in the same way though I think.
Of course, in the world of digital video, these are not concerns really. In fact, in the world of the Internet, both ever hungry for new images and nonjudgmental in their presentation, there isn’t a care as to how anything has come back into the public sphere. Perhaps the liberation of unlimited eye candy actually makes one want to find something more unique, more unseen. Certainly Thunderbean has helped to make many films more accessible, but still, the obscure material seems to find its way into being obscure again, even when it *is* with the unlimited masses of imagery.
Many of the really hard to find things are still the most interesting I think. There’s too many irons on the fire currently here, especially in the ‘special’ sets. I’ve learned to shut my trap a little more these days about *some* work in progress things, but other things I almost want to talk about with the hope that someone will pick up the mantel of film scanning and restoration, or that someone else has access to that is willing to work in partnership.
Cartoonist, writer and Animator Milton Knight somehow always found a certain brand of odd in many things he’s sent my way. This film was no exception. The Spanish animated feature Garbancito de La Mancha (1945), directed by José María Blay and Arturo Moreno, is the first European Cel-animated feature, and bizarre in a more 1930s way than 40s. Garbancito, a mini- Don Quixote, rescues his friends and has lots of adventures with the help of his goat. The design sensibility seems to be influenced by a combination of comics, Ub Iwerks, mid to late 30’s Warner Brothers cartoons and Disney influences. It was released in English speaking countries in 1946 as ‘The Enchanted Sword’, but I couldn’t find a US release of the film.
The animation quality ranges throughout the film, with most of the film looking quite primitive compared to its US counterparts- early 30s animation comes to find in some of the timing choices especially. I really like the music in the opening segment. It’s clearly a learning project, but really interesting and fun in some ways.
It seems pretty hard to find in any ‘official’ release, at least in any listings. The Internet Archive has a copy that must be from a DVD of some sort. It’s miles above the old VHS I had from Milt many years back, but still I’d love to have this get a much better Blu-Ray treatment. If you speak Spanish it’s a much easier watch. Perhaps some day they’ll be a good translation done and a version in HD.
Have a good week everyone!