Persistence of Vision

Persistence of Vision ★★★★½

Despite existing as an exceedingly simple documentary presentation (of the infamous "talking head" type), this is probably the most frightening movie I'll see all year. Richard Williams, the genius animator whose long-in-gestation and blatantly non-commercial animated epic The Thief and The Cobbler is the movie's subject, has all the hallmarks of a tragic hero or horror movie victim - through a mixture of arrogance and naivete, he allows his pet project, his baby, to be slaughtered by the movie's monster: Hollywood.

The sequence featuring the trailer for his child's butchered corpse is far more chilling than the usual red-paint-and-kitchen-knife shock scene, and all the more terrifying because IT REALLY HAPPENED. But that's only one of the many indignities suffered by Thief, which include being cannibalized by Disney, left for dead by Warner Bros, and ultimately stuffed into a box of Froot Loops.

But the most haunting part of this story is the obvious conclusion that Williams brought it all on himself. If he'd been a little less idealistic (or even just a little less romantic about his ideals), and open about the plain fact that The Thief and The Cobbler was probably never going to be commercially successful, he could have had a finished masterpiece, or at the very least he'd still be working on it now. Instead, the movie that was supposed to be his defining statement in his mastered medium is the subject of a documentary that won't ever make it to DVD. It's really no wonder he doesn't want to talk about it.

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