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Creator: Don Bluth

Don Bluth (1937-) is an animator and film director.

Much as current CG animated movies tend to exist in the public mind as "either Pixar or DreamWorks Animation", his works were considered one of the two main forces in animation alongside Disney. Bluth films are well-known for gorgeous character and effects animation and for a strong sense of fairy tale storytelling — and all that entails. His films tend to be darker (thematically and literally) than the standard Disney fare. They also overall tend to be much, much stranger. Even his not-so-good movies have a cult audience, thanks to their crazy fever-dream logic and the fact that the animation is still really pretty.

Before he started directing, his first animation contribution was as an assistant on Sleeping Beauty. He would also assist on The Sword in the Stone, and would take a brief foray into TV projects (on such fare as Filmation's Will the Real Jerry Lewis Please Sit Down? and Sabrina and The Groovie Goolies (!)) before returning to Disney for Robin Hood in 1973. He also animated sequences in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (most notably, the scene where Rabbit is lost in the woods). But after working on things like Pete's Dragon, he became disillusioned with the direction in which Disney seemed to be going without Walt. He and a few animator friends struck out on their own to form their own independent studio.

Their goal was to remind Disney, and people in general, what painstakingly attentive hand-drawn animation could do. For a considerable amount of time, film-goers liked his films better than the movies Disney was putting out in the '80s. Miffed by the competition, Disney started treating their own animated films more seriously. In other words, Bluth himself is largely responsible for the Western Animation Renaissance!

Though, sadly, he couldn't really enjoy it. His films couldn't compete with Disney's juggernaut hits, and were lost in the overcrowded "all the animation that isn't by Disney" market. For a while in the '90s, it looked like he was ready for a comeback, but the competition with Pixar movies deemed to be a little too much.

You can read his full biography (up to the early '90s) here. Reviews of his movies in chronological order can be read here.

Bluth's various productions include, in approximate chronological order:
  • Robin Hood: His first animation credit.
  • Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too: Animated the scene where Rabbit gets lost in the woods.
  • The Rescuers: His first animation directing credit for Disney.
  • Petes Dragon: Lead animator on Elliot. This is said to be the movie that made him disillusioned with Disney and he quit soon after.
  • The Small One: His last official project with Disney.
  • Banjo the Woodpile Cat: Started as a Christmas Special and was made sort of to prove Bluth's crew could create an animated film on their own. Mostly animated in Bluth's garage while he and his team were still at Disney, working on it on nights and weekends.
  • The animated musical number in Xanadu.
  • The Secret of NIMH: His first push for a return to the rich, classical style of the older Disney films, and his Breakthrough Hit. Many fans and critics still consider this his best film.
  • The Dragon's Lair game series, largely kicking off the Interactive Movie genre.
  • Space Ace, another Interactive Movie, being Dragon's Lair IN SPACE!
  • An American Tail: The first film he did alongside Steven Spielberg, and it was a huge financial success.
  • The Land Before Time: Also produced alongside Spielberg and George Lucas, making even more money than their previous collaboration.
  • All Dogs Go to Heaven: Still highly regarded for the most part, but didn't do too well at the box office. To be fair, the other animated film released that day was The Little Mermaid...
  • Rock-A-Doodle: Considered a Jump the Shark film by most fans.
  • Thumbelina: It is Bluth's most stereotypically-Disney-like film prior to Anastasia.
  • A Troll in Central Park: A film which sadly alienated fans and non-fans alike due to it tasting like diabetes. It is considered Don Bluth's worst film by fans (Though it still sports a higher rating on Rotten Totatoes than his following film).
  • The Pebble and the Penguin: A film that was disowned by Bluth himself, because it suffered from abysmal animation, songs that do not advance the plot, lack of originality and lots of Executive Meddling during production. Also notably Don Bluth's lowest rated film on Rotten Tomatoes.
  • Anastasia: Intended to be his big comeback and was marketed as such. To date, his last big hit.
  • Bartok the Magnificent: Direct-to-DVD, continuity-free sequel to the above and —this is important— the only sequel to one of his films he was ever actually involved with.
  • Titan A.E.: Failed at the box office but has since become a cult favorite.
  • An animated music video loosely retelling the story of Rapunzel, set to "Mary" by the Scissor Sisters.
  • He is credited as the director of a short animated film titled Gift of the Hoopoe, but in fact, he was only marginally involved with the film. He drew some of the storyboards for the film and was asked to direct, but turned down the request; the filmmakers credited him anyway, much to his annoyance.
  • He was in charge of the artistic design of the iPhone game Tapper World Tour.

In recent years, Bluth has slowed down quite a bit, though it may be premature to call him retired. He now resides in Scottsdale, Arizona, where he directs plays in his own theater, the Don Bluth Front Row Theater, and where he teaches animation classes from time to time. His website can be seen here, which includes animation tutorials and a forum in which you might even be able to talk to the man himself.

Although he's not as involved in the movie business as he once was, he is in the early stages of planning a film adaptation of Dragon's Lair- though the project is stuck in Development Hell. According to him, the film isn't getting off the ground because Hollywood doesn't see a traditional hand-drawn animated film as marketable.

Tropes associated with Don Bluth Productions Include:

Shane BlackDirectorsSergei Bondarchuk
Krasniy BAnimatorsEmily Youcis
Limited AnimationThe Dark Age of AnimationJune Foray
PrometheaThe Roaring TwentiesThe Artist
An American TailFilms of the 1990sThe Amityville Horror

alternative title(s): Don Bluth
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