[[quoteright:250:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/recobbledposter350.jpg]]

->''"The idea is to make the best animated film that has ever been made - there really is no reason why not."''
--> -- '''Creator/RichardWilliams''', before losing rights to his film

'''''The Thief and the Cobbler''''' (also ''The Princess and the Cobbler'', or ''Arabian Knight'', depending on which version you're watching) is a legendary attempt by master animator Creator/RichardWilliams to create the greatest animated feature ever. At more than 30 years, it holds the record for the longest production time for a motion picture - much of it spent in DevelopmentHell. Williams envisioned the film as his personal masterpiece (in the traditional sense, as in "the piece you create when you've mastered your medium") and wanted to fill the entire movie with every technique and trick he had learned from the top animators of TheGoldenAgeOfAnimation, effectively putting on display the ultimate capabilities of hand-drawn animation. It is considered a lost treasure of [[WesternAnimation animation]], with many critics calling it the [[MissingEpisode greatest unfinished film of all time]]).

Here's the plot: In a [[CityOfGold "golden city"]] set in a pseudo-Arabian land (although, in one of the versions, they decided to [[SmallReferencePools put it in Baghdad]],) there are [[PlotCoupon three golden balls]] atop "the highest minaret." Prophecy has it that if the balls are stolen, the city would fall, unless it was saved by the [[SimplemindedWisdom simplest of souls]]. The balls are stolen by a sneaky, nameless thief, just as a vicious race of one-eyed men (simply known as the One-Eyes) are about to attack the city. The King of the city sends his daughter, Princess [=YumYum=], out to find a way to stop the encroaching army, and she takes along with her the hero of our story, a meek cobbler named Tack (who has begun to fall in love with the Princess and she with him) as a guide. They are followed along the way by the Thief, who's only in it for the loot.

The movie began as a pet project which Williams and a few colleagues worked on in between profession gigs at his studio in London and was in and out of various stages of production for many years. Investors came and went, initially awed by the stunning, god-tier animation that had been completed thus far, but turned off by Williams' obsessive attention which it required, often resulting in missed deadlines and overshot budgets. Williams, meanwhile, hired and fired animators at will, eventually ending up with a solid team which included Disney legend Creator/ArtBabbitt and a young Creator/EricGoldberg, both of whom would follow him to his directoral debut, ''WesternAnimation/RaggedyAnnAndAndyAMusicalAdventure'', which Williams took on to help fund ''Thief''. After winning an Oscar for ''Film/WhoFramedRogerRabbit'' in 1989, a studio offered Williams the money necessary to finally complete ''Thief'', under the proviso that it be ready [[TemptingFate by a specific date under the budged provided]].

Williams never oversaw the film's completion: he would up missing the production deadline with the film fifteen minutes short of completion and, as per contractual obligations, [[ExecutiveMeddling was fired from his own pet project]] 28 years after he had began it. The project was then farmed out to an overseas company to finish the last fifteen minutes, prompted by competition with a [[Disney/{{Aladdin}} notoriously similar upcoming film]], and was [[{{Macekre}} severely edited]] upon completion, turning it from an artful EpicMovie into a LighterAndSofter Disney-esque musical ([[DramaticIrony some overseas-edited editions of the film even advertise it as TheMockbuster version of]] ''[[DramaticIrony Aladdin]]''). It was given a small, [[BoxOfficeBomb ultimately unsuccessful]] theatrical release by Mirimax under the title ''Arabian Knight'' in 1995.

A few years after the release of the Mirimax cut, Williams' personal workprint of the film, which had been smuggled out by some employees after he had been fired, appeared on the internet under the name ''The Recobbled Cut'' under the supervision of Garrett Gilchrist. The cut contains virtually all of the completed animation, as well as pencil tests and storyboards, to create as close an approximation as possible to Williams' original vision, allowing it to finally be seen by the masses. It has developed an extremely strong cult following among animators and animation fans, and has topped many "Greatest Unfinished Films" lists, as a veritable holy grail in the medium of hand-drawn animation. It has seen been passed around all over the internet, sometimes in drastically different forms.

For obvious reasons, Richard was reluctant to talk about the film for many years, refusing to take part in the "Recobbled" version when offered. He would spend the next few years on a remote island in Canada with his wife as he wrote ''Literature/TheAnimatorsSurvivalKit''. During his famed lecture tour, he went out of his way to let people know that he did ''not'' want to talk about ''Thief'', only to move past it. Williams eventually warmed up to it again, screening his own "recobbled" version, subtitled ''A Moment In Time,'' along with an art exhibit of his work in LA in 2013, twenty years after his firing from the project. [[http://www.skwigly.co.uk/richard-williams-changes-tack/ He has gone on record to say]] that this is the absolute closest the film will ever get to being finished, as [[NoPlansNoPrototypeNoBackup all of the original artwork and film materials for the film are scattered and lost, and it would be unfeasible to track all of it down or recreate it]], not to mention the legal kerfuffle he'd need to go through to get the completed footage back from the studio.

Now satisfied with ''Thieft'', Williams has since moved on to another attempt at a personal masterpiece, an anthology film with the working title [[LampshadeHanging "I Hope I Live To Finish This"]], the first part of which, ''Prologue'', debuted in 2015.

A documentary film about Richard's long troubled production of the film, called ''Persistence of Vision'', was released in October 2012 to much positive reception.

'''As of February 2015, at least one of the videos in the Recobbled Cut has been removed on copyright grounds from Miramax. The Recobbled Cut can still be found on Vimeo.'''

----
!!This movie (in its various incarnations) features examples of:

* AbnormalLimbRotationRange: The Witch does a full 360 rotation with her head during a long jump.
* AccidentalAimingSkills: Tack the Cobbler, who [[spoiler:takes down One-Eye's ''entire invading army'' with a single tack]]. It is "accidental" since he previously showed no sharpshooting ability (extraordinary or otherwise).
* ActuallyPrettyFunny: An unintentional one from the Creator/MiramaxFilms version. After hearing [[LullDestruction non-stop narration from Tack The Cobbler]], we get this line from him after Princess Yum Yum leaves the room with her Grandmother: ''"Why don't I ever talk when it matters?"''
* {{Adorkable}}: The Cobbler, natch.
* AdrenalineMakeover: See the entry below for ClarkKentOutfit.
* AdultFear: In the films climax, the King has a major breakdown when he spots his daughter standing ''right in the path of the One Eyes war machine'' and realizes there is nothing he can do to help her.
* AnAesop: One was [[JustForPun tacked]] on rather awkwardly and out of nowhere in the Miramax cut; the Witch's dialogue of "You have all you need, but it's what you do with what you got" is replaced with some message that Tack has to believe in himself, and one of his last lines in the Miramax cut is "Whenever you see a shooting star/be proud of what you really are. Do in your heart what you know is right/and you too can be an Arabian Knight."
* AgonyOfTheFeet: Near the beginning of the movie, Zigzag does this after stepping on one of Tack's tacks.
* AllThereInTheScript: The names of Zigzag's minions, Goblet, Tickle, Gopher and Slap, are never mentioned. The same goes for a couple of brigands; Hook and Hoof.
* AlmostDeadGuy: A messenger who has been shot with many arrows crawls back to the Golden City and coughs "One-Eye!" to the king before he dies.
* AmazingTechnicolorPopulation: The Thief is greenish brown, the EvilChancellor [=Zigzag=] is blue, and Tack the Cobbler is a literal white.[[note]]though he ''does'' tan after spending time outside (the white skin color appears to be related to living indoors until the events of the film.)[[/note]] [=ZigZag's=] minions are pink, green, purple and grey. The only people who have anything like normal skin colors are Princess [=YumYum=] and her father.
* AnachronismStew: Most of the thief's lines in the Miramax cut.
* AnimationBump: Happens whenever the film switches from Calvert animation back to Williams animation. Williams wanted to push the limitations of what hand-drawn animation could do. Calvert, who took over after Williams was fired for being too expensive, did everything as cheaply and quickly as possible. The differences are very sudden and jarring.
* ArabianNightsDays
* ArtEvolution: In the early days, the film used LimitedAnimation and had even flatter and more stylized character designs. Also, most of the characters were later redesigned several times, causing scenes to have to be modified or even completely reanimated.
* AssholeVictim: Mighty One-Eye.
* AtopAMountainOfCorpses: The One-Eyes are first introduced as such, standing atop a mountain of Golden City soldiers' corpses.
* AwardBaitSong: In the two "finished" cuts. It's a [[TheNineties nineties]] animated film, though it's not easy to tell which one was the song in question.
* BanisterSlide: Tack and the Thief towards the end of the famous "Escher Sequence." At least it...''[[MindScrew looks]]'' [[MindScrew like a banister]].
* BareYourMidriff: Princess [=YumYum=].
* BedlahBabe: [=YumYum=], complete with sheer veil over the mouth.
* BifurcatedWeapon: Zigzag has a stick that can sprout out hooks, forks and pointy bits from the top.
* BigBadDuumvirate: One-Eye and Zigzag
* BigBookOfWar: "When in doubt...consult..''The Brigands' Handbook!''"
* BigNever: The King's reaction when Zigzag asks for [=YumYum=]'s hand in marriage in return for the golden balls.
* BilingualBonus: The signs leading to the Great Ruby Temple are in several languages, including English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Arabic, Japanese, Russian, and Greek.
* BloodlessCarnage: Apparently, being impaled with a flagpole and a dozen of arrows doesn't make you bleed.
** There is one short scene in the Recobbled Cut where there is nothing but slashing swords and blood spraying everywhere.
* BornInTheTheatre: At the end of the movie, the Thief removes the film from the projector and absconds with it. [[BondOneLiner Talk about a scene stealer!]]
* BreakingTheFourthWall: The Thief not only absconds with the end titles, but also takes the film right off the projector.
* BringNewsBack: The sole survivor of a massacre rides for miles with a volley of arrows on his back and arrives at the palace, living just long enough to say the name of the BigBad: "One... Eye!
* BulletSparks: Not an actual gun bullet, but a nail slung at an unrealistic speed ricochets with visible sparks, as the start of an epic chain of DisasterDominoes.
* ButtMonkey: Nothing goes right for the thief and Zigzag's pet until the end.
* ByTheLightsOfTheirEyes: [[spoiler:Zigzag]] being torn apart by crocodiles in the dark, with only eyes and teeth visible.
-->"Ow, my bottom! Ow, my top! Greedy things, don't you ever stop?"
** And there has to be a mention for the thief and a certain polo ball. You can't help but either pity the poor guy or laugh out of spite. [[TakeAThirdOption Or both.]]
* CaptainObvious: Much of the dialogue in the Miramax version is this, mainly because it was half-heartedly thrown in for the sole purpose of LullDestruction. For example, we know Tack's in love with the princess because he makes her face out of thread in a very effective scene. Yet [[ExecutiveMeddling somebody]] decided he also needed to sing a horrible AwardBaitSong about it!
* CardCarryingVillain: The Thief and [=Zigzag=].
* CatchPhrase: "Have no fear, Zigzag the Grand Vizier is here." ...Yes, it's ironic.
* ChekhovsGun:
** [[spoiler: Princess [=YumYum=]'s backscratchers were stolen by the Thief early on in the film. When the Thief is about to face dismemberment as punishment for trying to steal something, he slyly grabs the backscratchers and shakes them violently, giving the illusion that they cut off his actual arms.]]
** Also the [[spoiler:tacks that Tack keeps in his mouth]].
* ClarkKentOutfit: [[spoiler:Tack is surprisingly tall and muscular when he stands up straight and half of his clothes have been ripped off in the final fight]]; this is more obvious in the original storyboards (and VERY clear in a [[http://i.imgur.com/qAOHq.png concept drawing]] in the Recobbled DVD extras), as the animation finished by Calvert (which the Recobbled Cut uses to some extent) is very OffModel. [[spoiler:This is probably part of his ComingOfAge story, along with getting a handsome tan and starting to talk.]]
* ClothingDamage: Tack gets some during the climax.
* ClutchingHandTrap: At one point the Thief sees a bottle filled with jewels. Unfortunately, the jewels are too big for him to get past the opening. He won't let go of the diamond, even when the palace guards have him surrounded.
* ConspicuousCG: Subverted. There are elaborately shaded roses, scenes moving in 3D and way too many details in the climax which all look like they required computer animation - but were all entirely drawn by hand.
* ConspicuouslyLightPatch: Averted. Partly due to the simple style, moving background objects blend perfectly with the background paintings. One example is the wooden stocks the thief is put in.
* ContinuitySnarl: Because of the movie's 20-something-years-long production, some aspects of the story were gradually modified, and the Recobbled Cut does have contradicting scenes at one point. The early intent was for Zigzag to actually lust for Princess Yum-Yum, and he therefore still wants the One-Eyes to give her to him as payment for his treason. However, another scene reveals his EvilPlan to be to marry Yum-Yum as a way to become king (which means she'd be useless to him once the One-Eyes, thanks to his treason, had destroyed the Golden City).
* CosmicKeystone: The golden balls, at least according to the OpeningMonologue. But it seems to be ultimately averted, since they don't ever display any power on their own, and the news of an encroaching army seems to coincide with their disappearance by pure happenstance.
** Sounds like [[MagicFeather another trope altogether]]...
* CoversAlwaysLie: While the [[http://img183.imageshack.us/img183/175/thiefpackaging3xo2.jpg cardboard diorama]] packaged with the DVD has Tack and Princess Yum-Yum riding a MagicCarpet, they never do so in ''any'' version of the movie.
* CreepyLongFingers: Zig Zag and the Witch have them, and they are seen with the Elder's Hands in the intro as well.
* CuteMute: Tack, in spades. [[spoiler:That is, until the last scene.]]
* DeliberatelyMonochrome: Tack's color palette is mainly white with shades of grey and black, in contrast to the colorful characters and sets around him.
* DeadpanSnarker: The thief's inner monologue, as provided by Creator/JonathanWinters for the Calvert and Miramax cuts. Tends to provoke a LoveItOrHateIt response, with some finding it obnoxious and distracting, while others think it (along with the animation) is the only thing that makes those cuts watchable.
* DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment: "Seeeiizze him! Take him! Seize him! Take him!"
* DerangedAnimation: Taken UpToEleven in the original version.
* DesignStudentsOrgasm: Everything is extremely stylized to the point of being super weird. Lots of AmazingTechnicolorPopulation, UnmovingPlaid and DerangedAnimation.
* {{Determinator}}: ''Nothing'' can stop the Thief once he spots something shiny.
** Subverted at the end of the original, where he and Tack are fighting over the balls, and the Thief just decides that they're not worth it and walks away, [[BreakingTheFourthWall only to come back, unknown to Tack, and steal the entire film...]]
** The dying messenger also qualifies. He rode for untold miles with a dozen arrows in his back.
* DiabolusExNihilo: The One-Eyes simply appear in the film without any kind of backstory. They want to conquer and destroy the Golden City, also without any explained motivation.
* DilatingDoor: The palace door opens and closes horizontally, with the segments fitting together like a jagged jigsaw puzzle.
* DisasterDominoes: Done in epic fashion at the FinalBattle, as Tack unwittingly starts one with [[spoiler:One-Eye's immense and intricate war machine]].
* {{Disneyfication}}: A notorious example. After Fred Calvert took over the film, he deliberately edited it into one more in-line with the Disney musical format popular at the time, hence the {{Award Bait Song}}s, [=YumYum=] becoming a RebelliousPrincess, etc. Ironically, Richard Williams originally intended the film to be anti-Disney.
* DisneyVillainDeath: Mighty One-Eye in Fred Calvert's recut. Originally, his death was more {{family unfriendly|Death}}.
* DisproportionateRetribution: Zigzag has Tack arrested, thrown in jail and almost fed to a vulture just because he accidentally stepped on a tack fell from him by accident. And that's only because [=YumYum=] convinced her father to spare him; Zigzag ''wanted'' to have him beheaded.
* DistantDuet: "Am I Feeling Love?"
* DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything: Some have accused Disney's ''Disney/{{Aladdin}}'' of being a rip-off of this film. While the plots are dissimilar, the animators of ''Aladdin'' have admitted to watching clips of the film and basing their own character designs, such as the Genie and Jafar, off the ones in this film. Which later led to critics thinking ''this'' film, which was released later, was ripping it off. Of course, the Miramax cut did in fact rip off certain elements of ''Disney/{{Aladdin}}'' during the process of {{Disneyf|ication}}ying it.
** In an establishing shot of the city, take a look at its tiered shape. Then take a look at how it's positioned close to a river and a set of dark mountains. Then go and watch ''[[Film/TheLordOfTheRings The Return of the King]]''.
* TheDragon: [=Zigzag=] becomes this to One-Eye.
* EasterEgg / FreezeFrameBonus: During the epic war machine sequence, at one point if you look VERY carefully, you'll notice that the Thief's flies ''actually have little robes on them'' - and their heads are the same as the Thief's.
* TheEnd: The words "The End" appear in golden letters. [[ImpossibleThief The Thief steals the letters,]] [[BreakingTheFourthWall along with the rest of the film reel.]]
* EpicTrackingShot: Several examples. There is one scene where the camera zooms out from King Nod's mouth to a view of the city and vast lands around it. People who worked on this film used to call it "[[http://thethief1.blogspot.com/2008/01/guest-blogger-brian-riley.html mouth to mountain]]".
* EstablishingCharacterMoment
** The Thief's first scene has him sneak up behind an old woman, and prepare to pick her pocket...[[spoiler: ''and then she tosses him around like a ragdoll.'']]. It firmly establishes both [[ButtMonkey his]] [[TheChewToy role]] [[NeverMessWithGranny and]] [[CoolOldLady hers]] for most of the film.
** Zigzag's entrance is a masterpiece of ShowDontTell (in the original, anyway). Even before you see him, you learn from the parade announcing him that he's a high-ranking, powerful, narcissistic and draconic man.
* EverythingTryingToKillYou: Happens to the Thief. An old lady turns out to be a [[IKnowKarate martial artist]], a bed turns out to be a pack of giant, angry guard dogs, the polo players constantly hit him... and the [[spoiler: giant war machine]] has such things as a giant flyswatter, a giant broom and a giant iron.
* EvilChancellor: Zigzag. And apparently an EvilSorcerer too, though his magic seems mostly limited to illusions and sleight of hand.
* EvilSoundsDeep: Mighty One-Eye.
* EvilWearsBlack: Zigzag
* EurekaMoment: In the Miramax and Allied Filmakers versions. "Attack...attack...a tack. A TACK!" which segues into...
* ExactWords: Throughout the film, 'Attack' is used liberally, until, in some versions, Tack replaces one T with a space, figuring out how to defeat the War Machine.
* ExtraDigits: Zigzag has six fingers on each hand, perhaps to show that he's [[TheChessmaster a master manipulator]].
* FaceDeathWithDignity: Oddly enough, [[spoiler: Zigzag]].
* TheFaceless: The "present" given to King Nod by Zigzag. All we see is a purple arm and an eye with eyelashes about a ''foot'' long.
* {{Fanfare}}: "Beautiful! Princess! [=YumYum=]!"
* FauxAffablyEvil: Zigzag. He gives a massage and a concubine to king Nod, not out friendliness but to keep him busy. Also possibly the reason he speaks in rhyme - his words are pleasant on the outside but empty inside.
* FamilyUnfriendlyDeath: [[spoiler: Zig Zag is eaten alive by crocodiles.]]
* FiveFingerDiscount: The Thief is such an inveterate kleptomaniac, he even picks his ''own'' pocket.
* ForWantOfANail: The events of the film are the result of many coincidences. The whole plot is set in motion by a literal nail, and also resolved by one.
* FourFingeredHands: Inverted. Zig Zag has ''six''-fingered hands.
* FunWithFlushing: The Thief's first attempt to break into King Nod's palace lands him in the royal toilet. While trying to get out he accidentally pulls the rope and is flushed back into the castle moat.
* FunnyBackgroundEvent: While Zigzag is speaking during the polo match, the Thief is getting flung back and forth by the mallets because of the "devil ball."
** The ending is a Funny Foreground Event... The Thief steals the scene. Literally pulls it right off the projection reel.
* {{Gainaxing}}: Princess [=YumYum=] at times and also the Witch and the One Eye's dancing slaves.
* GetOut: King Nod to Zigzag after Zigzag tries blackmailing his way into marrying [=YumYum=] (original cut).
* GettingCrapPastTheRadar: Since "Thief" was intended for an adult audience, there are a few instances of this in the original version.
** King Nod having sex with the "Maiden from Mombassa".
*** The way [=Zigzag=] introduces her and the reactions of the King and [=YumYum=] imply that Mombassan women have a reputation for being animals in the sack.
** Phido the Vulture screaming "MY ASSSSS!!!" after getting spanked.
** Where Zigzag's minions place the balls as they carry them away...
** Many times when someone mentions the balls. In one scene, Zigzag gets his groin hurt and grabs it in pain the instant king Nod mentions "balls".
** "I'm taking my balls and leaving." The was changed to "I'm taking THE balls and leaving" in the Miramax cut.
* GoldAndWhiteAreDivine: The Golden City, which is described as a paradise, is decorated in these colors.
* {{Gonk}}: Most of the One Eyes, Zigzag and Roofless' Bandits. Especially Roofless' Bandits.
* GoodColorsEvilColors: The Golden City (or [[ExecutiveMeddling Baghdad]], depending on which version you're most familiar with) centering on bright colors like {{gold and white|AreDivine}}, while the One-Eyes are [[RedAndBlackAndEvilAllOver black and red]].
* GoofyPrintUnderwear: Zigzag has pink boxers with purple "Z"s under his robe, as seen when he pops up through the floor of the throne room in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it visual gag.
* GoryDiscretionShot: During [[spoiler:Zigzag]]'s death scene, he falls into a pit and is eaten alive by a pack of crocodiles. All that can be seen is a silhouette and a pair of eyes being munched by the crocs' teeth, until all that remains is his still talking head, which is then eaten by his pet vulture. It cuts to complete darkness as his head is eaten.
* GravityIsAHarshSeamstress: Happens to the Thief in one scene.
* GroinAttack: In the Recobbled Cut, Princess [=YumYum=] does this on Phido (a vulture, remember!) when she goes into the dungeons to look for Tack.
* HaveAGayOldTime: Golden Balls? One-Eye?
* HeroicMime: Tack.
* HoistByHisOwnPetard:
** [[spoiler: The entire one-eye army is killed by their huge warmachine.]]
** [[spoiler: Zigzag spends the whole film abusing his pet vulture Phido. Phido, in keeping with this trope, is the one to finish him off.]]
** Similarly, in both the Recobbled cut and the ''Princess and the Cobbler'' cut, [[spoiler: Mighty One-Eye is killed by his own abused slave girls. [[KarmicDeath In the former, they chant "Throne! Throne!" and crush him to death by sitting on him, revenge for One-Eye always using them as a throne.]] In the latter cut, they just toss him off a cliff.]]
* HollywoodDensity: The Gold Balls are lifted ''very'' effortlessly, even ''bouncing'' when the Thief falls off the tower.
* {{Homage}}: The Thief does his best [[Disney/{{Fantasia}} Chernobog impression]] with accompanying theme music when he dons a fake pair of wings.
* HowUnscientific: The film doesn't seem to contain any magic -- the [[CosmicKeystone golden balls]] don't actually do anything, and everything Zigzag does is rather obviously done by small smoke bombs and [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleight_of_hand sleight of hand]] -- except for the Witch, who ''is'' an actual sorceress.
* HumanPincushion: The dying soldier who rides to send a message to the king has been impaled with a flagpole and a dozen of arrows. ([[http://thethief1.blogspot.com/2008/07/dying-messenger-part-2.html#comments The animator actually added more arrows in later scenes]] - nobody noticed!)
* ImGoingToDisneyWorld: In the Miramax edit, when the Thief steals the three golden balls from the top of the palace, as he struggles to slide the third and largest ball off of the spire.
--> '''Thief's inner monologue''': "And with you... ohoho... I'm... going to Disneyland!"
* ImpossibleTheft: The thief can and will steal ANYTHING if he's left alone for too long... He's let free at the end of the film. He then steals... the end of the film, and runs off with it. Literally. Right off the projector.
* InkSuitActor: After VincentPrice was cast as Zigzag's voice, his design was modified to resemble Price. This is more obvious when Williams shows his caricature of Price in Literature/TheAnimatorsSurvivalKit -- it resembles Zigzag quite a lot!
* IntangibleTheft: The Thief steals the MacGuffin from a collapsing death machine, the words [[PaintingTheFourthWall "The End" at the end of the movie]] and ''[[TheFourthWallWillNotProtectYou the film from the projector!]]
* IWantSong: "She is More" in the butchered versions.
* KarmaHoudini:
** The thief never gets punished for his incredible acts of larceny. He does hand over the balls at the end, but presumably doesn't return anything else.[[note]][[LaserGuidedKarma Of course, the polo ball seems to have a mind of its own, doggedly chasing the thief around as the polo players whack both it and him.]][[/note]]
** The One Eye Leader's fate is left unanswered in the Miramax version, thus it is assumed he manage to return without being punished for his actions.
* KarmicDeath: Zig Zag is [[spoiler: devoured by the crocodiles he promised a grand meal to]]
** Depending on the cut, Mighty One-Eye either [[spoiler: plunges to his death from atop his war machine]] or [[spoiler: is crushed to death by the slave women he had been using as living furniture]].
* KnowWhenToFoldEm: At the end of the workprint, [[spoiler: the thief, with Tack pinned over a pit of doom and the golden balls within reach, finally decides he's been through more trouble than they're worth and [[ScrewThisImOuttaHere leaves in a huff]].]]
* LargeHam: King Nod. Complete with incongruous close-up shots of his face and mouth.
** "The BALLS are GONE! My KINGDOM will COME to destruction AND '''DEATH'''!"
*** And of course, there's [=Zigzag=], played by Vincent Price in his usual delicious hamminess ("FAT! FAAAAT! [[FeedMe FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT!]]")
** The Mighty One Eye too can count.
* LastSecondWordSwap: "Oh [=fffffffffffffffffPhido=]!" (original version).
* LaughablyEvil: Zigzag. Almost everything he does is horrible, yet he's still one of the funniest characters in the film.
* LimitedAnimation: Completely averted. Despite the [[DoingItForTheArt complete stylization]] which was original for the time he began work on it, Williams painfully crafted it cel-by-cel at a high frame-rate.
** Early in the production, when Williams didn't have good animators yet, the film ''did'' have limited animation. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jIrNI11eHw Here]] is a very early clip (when the story also was completely different).
* LullDestruction: The Calvert cut added narration from an older Tack to the film, while the Miramax cut gave him full voice acting and narration from Matthew Broderick. The Miramax cut also added ''many'' more voices, including a constant inner monologue for the Thief (done by Jonathan Winters). In addition, many characters, such as [=YumYum=], have significantly more dialog added. The original intention by Williams was to create several purely physical characters for the animators to have total freedom with, something that Calvert and Miramax apparently decided was a problem because ViewersAreMorons.
* MacGuffin: The three golden balls. They don't actually ''do'' anything other than to be coveted by the characters.
* MajorInjuryUnderreaction: [[spoiler:Ziz-zag takes being eaten alive by crocodiles quite calmly, all things considered.]]
* MaybeMagicMaybeMundane: Are the golden balls really prophetic, or were they just stolen by the Thief at a convenient time?
* MetronomicManMashing: [=YumYum=]'s nanny beats the Thief this way when he tries to rob her.
* MindScrew: The chase scene is this.
* {{Mondegreen}}: The little song from Zigzag's advisors announcing his presence in the original cut is hard to make out, leading to a lot of these.
* MoreDakka: The One-Eye's War Machine is NOTHING BUT DAKKA.
* MoreTeethThanTheOsmondFamily: The entire One-Eye race has rows upon rows upon ''rows'' of sharp, yellow teeth.
* NaturalSpotlight: There's a subtle one when Tack the Cobbler is seen the first time, shining on him. It's probably used to signify his pure nature. Particularly egregrious as is seems to come through the ''ceiling''.
* NeverMessWithGranny: [=YumYum=]'s nanny, UpToEleven. When the Thief tries to steal some bananas from her, she proceeds to beat the crap out of him and ''barely even looks at him while she does it.''
* NeverSmileAtACrocodile: When the Mighty One Eye throws Zigzag into the alligator's pit he manages to befriend them and use them as sledge horses. [[spoiler: Later thought they finally manage to eat him for good]].
* NoMouth: Tack, whose mouth is represented by the tacks he holds in his mouth.
* NotDistractedByTheSexy: The Thief comes across [=YumYum=] bathing and only says "Oh, [it's only] a naked lady." But he gets excited to see she has a jewel encrusted golden scratcher.
* TheNounAndTheNoun
* NoWomansLand: The One-Eyes are not much better to their women than their enemies. ''The Recobbled Cut'' shows that the women are used as entertainment (exotic dancing and likely [[SexSlave something else]]) and furniture ([[NotMakingThisUpDisclaimer no, really]]) at the soldiers' camp. Mighty One-Eye even uses a number of contortionist women to make the shape of his lounge chair when he's resting, his throne when he's working, and so on. [[spoiler:This bites him at the end when his war machine is falling apart, and his "throne" seizes the opportunity to [[KarmicDeath sit on him instead]].]]
* OffModel: Happens pretty often, as one could expect from an animated film in production for ''decades'' and, in the case of the Calvert version, by several different animation studios around the world[[note]]The animation itself was largely handled by members of Sulivan-Bluth Studios in Ireland, Kroyer Films in America and Premier Films in the UK. With Creator/WangFilmProductions in Taiwan handing the bulk of the ink and paint, which in turn went to their Thailand-based studio[[/note]]. It doesn't help that Calvert outsourced the remaining animation work to cheaper studios, creating a drastic difference in quality between the original Williams-animated scenes and his scenes.
** A very noticeable instance is [=YumYum=] as Zigzag says ...of course, oh rose of the land, your slightest whim is my command..." This is because the footage was recycled from an older test reel Williams had created to pitch the film to potential investors.
* TheOner: Some shots are over one minute long. Some examples are the dying soldier slowly crawling towards his horse, and the thief tightrope walking. Some of them have hidden cuts to make animating them easier.
* PapaWolf: The King in the original cut. When Zigzag fools the King into thinking he can "magic the balls back," he requests Princess Yumyum's hand in marriage as compensation. The king ''vehemently'' refuses to send off his daughter to him. Note that, as far as the king is concerned, this is his only chance to get the balls back and keep his kingdom safe. It's honestly rather badass of the King to do so.
* PerspectiveMagic: When there is a scene with tiled patterns, perspective is often played with.
* PinballProjectile: The Cobbler's tack, in the final major scene.
* PinballProtagonist: Tack, who spends the first two-thirds of the movie largely being dragged around by other characters. He undergoes no notable character development or HiddenDepths, which makes his burst of heroism in the movie's final act all the more surprising by [[AssPull how unexpected it is]].
* PlatformHell: The thief ends up in one in the climax. Unfair deathtraps, SpikesOfDoom and a constant BulletHell are everywhere, and he survives them [[PlotArmor only by sheer dumb luck]] (not so for the various mooks dying horribly). It would probably make an awesome videogame.
* [[RampageFromANail Rampage From A Tack]]: A role reversal of this trope, in that everything falls apart because the tack is put IN the device.
* RebelliousPrincess: [=YumYum=] shows shades of this in the original, but it was {{Flanderiz|ation}}ed big time in the edits.
* {{Recut}}: There's three versions of the film:
** The original, unfinished version of the film by Richard Williams. He put together a workprint in 1992 before he was forced to leave. The Recobbled Cut is a restoration of this, with only some cosmetic changes (adding more music and replacing storyboards with Calvert's animation where it didn't differ too much).
** ''The Princess and the Cobbler'' in 1993 by Fred Calvert, which removed a bunch of scenes, added songs, a voice for Tack and a large amount of OffModel animation.
** ''Arabian Knight'' in 1995 by Miramax, which removed even more scenes and added voiceovers for pretty much every scene; most notably Jonathan Winters as the Thief.
* RedAndBlackAndEvilAllOver: The whole army of the One-Eye uses these colors to overkill. [[RedEyesTakeWarning Even their eyes are red.]]
* RedFilterOfDoom: Twice.
** First is the introduction of the One-eyes: After the camera pans up to view the three golden balls that protect the city, the screen suddenly turns red, menacing music starts playing and the camera travels past vast areas of land to reveal the One-eyes in the middle of thousands of human corpses.
** The second time is when [[spoiler: the enormous war machine is collapsing, {{Justified|Trope}} by the fire]].
* {{Redubbing}}: The Allied Filmmakers and Miramax editions redubbed the main British voices with American ones, except for Vincent Price.
* RewardedAsATraitorDeserves: Since they didn't actually win, One-Eye never gets around to giving Zig Zag this, but every interaction they have concerning their plan seems to indicate One-Eye intended this fate for him.
* RhymesOnADime: Zigzag speaks this.
* RuleOfAnimationConservation: Averted, in that money was [[DoingItForTheArt no concern]] for Williams. A lot stuff that didn't need to were animated. His rule of thumb was more like: "If it can be animated, it ''will'' be, regardless of how difficult or unnecessary it is."
* RumpRoast: This happens to Phido the vulture several times.
* SceneryPorn: The original cut has this in full since the creator spent over quarter of a century working on each frame of animation.
* SealedWithAKiss: [[spoiler: The second-to-last shot in the film (last being the Thief stealing the film) has this between Tack and [=YumYum=] during their wedding.]]
* SerratedBladeOfPain: The One-Eye weaponry combines this with SpikesOfVillainy.
* ShaggySearchTechnique: While hugging the palace walls while trying to escape, Tack accidently hits a brick that causes the wall to open.
* SkewedPriorities: What would our dear thief rather do: steal three priceless golden balls, or run away from ''the blazing inferno/death trap of a war machine'' sitting in his way? '''''[[TakeAThirdOption Just guess.]]'''''
* SlasherSmile: In the Recobbled Cut, a rough animation depicts Zigzag having one as he begins to attack Tack.
* SleepyHead: Most of King Nod's scenes show him sleeping.
* SphereEyes: Some of the characters, given their really cartoony appearances.
* SpikeBallsOfDoom: One-Eye's army has these in their weapon arsenal.
* SpikesOfVillainy: The War Machine of the One-Eyes.
* StarringSpecialEffects: The movie is very light on story and really only exists so Creator/RichardWilliams can show off every single trick and technique he learned from his [[TheGoldenAgeOfAnimation golden-age]] mentors. There are scenes that Williams deliberately requested go on for longer than they should if only to show off the animation.
* StarScraper: [=ZigZag=] has a tower that is ridiculously tall. The minaret with the three golden balls is supposed to be the tallest in the city, but seems fairly normal in comparison.
* StickyFingers: Take a wild guess.
** StealTheSurroundings: His most audacious theft, in the entire film is... [[ImpossibleTheft The Entire Film.]]
* StonerFlick
* StrollingThroughTheChaos: Happens to the thief in the climax. One of the funniest moments in the film, and lasts around eight minutes.
* SuddenlyVoiced: The Thief (by Creator/JonathanWinters) and Phido (by Eric Bogosian) in the Miramax version. Technically, Phido spoke in squawks provided by Donald Pleasence, and he was still dubbed in anyway.
* TakeThat: The Miramax cut has a small one towards {{Disney/Aladdin}} when Tack says "Who needs a genie when a tack will do the trick?"
* TalkingAnimal: The Miramax cut gave Phido and the alligators several lines each for truly inexplicable reasons.
* TechnicolorEyes: Everybody who has irises have them in different color. Tack has blue, Zigzag has green, king Nod has reddish brown, the nanny has desaturated brown, [[PurpleEyes and [=Yumyum=] has purple eyes]]. [[RedEyesTakeWarning On a darker note, all of the One-eyes have a single, big, red eye.]]
* ThereIsNoKillLikeOverkill: The One-Eyes War Machine.
* TiedTogetherShoelaceTrip: Tack does this to one of the bandits when he grabs him by the legs.
* TookALevelInBadass: Tack. By the climax, not only [[spoiler: does he manage to take down the war machine with a single tack, but he ''also'' goes to face off with Zigzag in a (mostly offscreen) physical fight, resulting in his stitching Zigzag up and rendering him harmless--and he does the latter while being ''strangled.'']] That's pretty damn tough.
* ToothyBird: [[spoiler: When Phido eats Zigzag's head he sports a beak full of serrated teeth]].
* TravelingPipeBulge: The thief does this extensively while trying to sneak into the castle.
* {{Underlighting}}: Just one of the very many animation special effects [[ExaggeratedTrope used to no end]]. Things made to glow this way include the golden balls, all fire, beams of light, Zigzag's flashy smoke bombs, brightly lit areas, and many more...
* UnmovingPlaid: Pretty much any scene with tiled floors. This is due to the style being based on ancient persian miniature paintings, which did not have correct perspective. Averted whenever the animators [[DoingItForTheArt decided to rotate the scene around]].
** [[http://thethief1.blogspot.com/2008/07/dying-messenger-part-2.html This actually caused some problems]] with the scene where a messenger rides across a courtyard, with a panning camera.
* VillainProtagonist: The Thief. While he's not the BigBad, he isn't exactly a good guy either, considering the whole mess is his fault. Miramax apparently felt pity for him and made him an AccidentalHero when the King believes that he recovered the golden balls for the city and he gives the balls back out of guilt (and not wanting to be attacked by the King's guards).
* VillainTeamUp: Zigzag goes to join the Mighty One-Eye after being refused to marry princess Yum-Yum.
-->"We'll see who wins at the end of the day! We'll see who ends up grieving! I'll go to the One-Eyes right away! I'm taking my balls and leaving!"
* VisualInnuendo: The bit where the Thief steals the Golden Balls for the first time and [[http://i80.photobucket.com/albums/j175/muzition/thiefballs.jpg?t=1254273475 hides them under his clothes]].
* VisualPun: Zigzag holds up the tack he stepped on while saying that Tack "attacked" him.
* TheVoiceless: [[CuteMute Tack]] and the Thief. At least, originally. Though the Recobbled version adds a single line.
** VocalDissonance: Invoked in the Recobbled Cut.
* WalletMoths: The Thief steals the Cobbler's money purse to find it woefully empty, save for a few moths.
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: In the re-cuts of the movie:
** While Princess [=YumYum=] is bathing, the Thief steals two of her backscratchers. In the re-cuts, nothing comes of it. In the original version, the Thief [[ChekhovsGun uses them to escape having his hands cut off]].
** While Tack and [=YumYum=] are consulting the Witch, the Thief is trying to get a giant ruby on a tower by flying with palm frond wings. He ends up crashing into the Witch. But since the re-cuts eliminate nearly all the footage of the Witch, the Thief's fate is left literally up in the air.
** Played straight in the edits, but averted in the original cut. Tack is seen feeding a mouse while he's imprisoned, and we later see that he's sneaked the mouse out with him when he escaped (these shots are present in all versions of the film). While it's never seen again in the edits, in the original cut he removes the mouse from his pocket and gives it to [=YumYum=] before he goes to face One-Eye's army.
*** The Recobbled Cut, however, does play the trope in one case: In the original storyboards, the mouse shows up in the final kissing scene. Calvert removed the mouse, and the Recobbled Cut uses that animation.
** The edited versions of this movie contain references to Arabian Knights...for absolutely no reason since the main character actually becomes a prince. Also [=YumYum=]'s song about wanting to be something more than a princess goes absolutely nowhere.
** In the Miramax version of the film, Mighty One-Eye's fate is never shown.
** In the Miramax version, the last we see of Zigzag's henchmen is an odd scene where he ambiguously threatens them, and it looks almost as if he stabs them in the face the second after the camera fades out. In the recobbled cut, they appear briefly to show shock and remorse for what's happened, and it's clear that Zigzag was simply scaring them in the earlier scene.
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