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FRANK & OLLIE

USA, 1994 (MIFF 1995, Documentaries)

Director: Theodore Thomas

The Walt Disney Company became the embodiment of family entertainment with its classic animated features during the 1930s, '40s and '50s. This team of creative artists trans­formed what had been a medium of relatively crude cartoons into lasting and universally applauded cinematic art.

Believable anthropomorphic characters who came to life on the screen were their hallmark. In film after film (Fantasia, Bambi, Jungle Book, Sword in the Stone and more) some of the most sublime performances ever to flow from a pencil were created by two star members of Disney's original team, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston. Their contributions to the legacy of these films is the focus of this fascinating and entertaining portrait.

Equally remarkable are the lasting friendship and close working relationship of the two artists. They met as Stanford students in 1932 and have been roommates, workmates, and neighbours ever since. Indeed, because of their almost legendary standing in the world of ani­mation and an uncanny string of events which this film depicts, many people may not realise that Frank and Ollie are two separate individu­als. In many ways they do seem to be part of a single creative personality.

Ted Thomas Frank's son directs this touch­ing and funny tribute to their labor and lives. The film also offers an up close and personal look at the development of character/personality ani­mation. The vital and unusual chemistry that allowed them to challenge each other and col­laborate and that resulted in the drawings that are remembered by millions of people makes this a very special film.

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