laird’s review published on Letterboxd:
I was previously familiar with the fact that the movie released as Thief and the Cobbler was disowned by animator Richard Williams, but the gory details of its more than three decade development and the tragedy of its eventual release are as devastatingly heartbreaking as any gut-wrenching Hollywood melodrama. Williams is clearly a genius, perhaps out of control and over his head like Smile era Brian Wilson, but when he says he's working on his "masterpiece" and the documentary is able to provide demonstrable proof of this, it's hard to not wince imagining the work of art we were collectively denied by a couple of bad breaks and one very bad business decision.
It got me thinking about commerce and art, and how art was funded and created under previous social systems. In the Middle Ages would Williams been allowed to spend decades working on his masterpiece if it was religious in nature? Would a wealthy patron have funded his obsession? Would a state fund it as a demonstration of their glory and power? In late 20th Century America, an artistic masterpiece is defiled and ends up as a free prize in a box of Froot Loops, because a corporation decided it was taking too long and costing too much. Devastating.