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Western Animation / The Thieving Magpie

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The Thieving Magpie is a 1965 animated short film (ten minutes) from Italy, directed by Giulio Gianini and Emanuele Luzatti.

Unsurprisingly, it uses the music from The Thieving Magpie by Gioachino Rossini, although it has a different story (so it's not an Animated Adaptation). In this story three kings, along with their entourages, go out on a bird hunt. They let loose an amazing number of arrows which kill a great many birds. However, left alive is a magpie, which turns the tables. After the three hunting parties have all exhausted their arrows, the magpie goes on the attack, stealing the crowns of the three kings before performing even more outrageous tricks on them.

Compare Pulcinella, another Luzzati short that had a similar style and was also accompanied by Rossini music.



  • Clip-Art Animation: The animation is done by moving clip art drawings against a static background. It's surprisingly smooth and effective.
  • Dodgy Toupee: The magpie steals one king's toupee.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: Near the end the magpie is ripping open all the windows of the castle/prison. One window is opened to reveal a man and a woman kissing.
  • Karmic Trickster: The magpie uses its Bugs Bunny-esque powers to really screw with the three kings. It pokes holes in the clouds to make rain. When the three kings are placidly rowing home in the flood created by the rain, the magpie swoops down and erases slices out of the blue flat surface of the water—thus causing wave shapes, thus making a stormy sea.
  • Mickey Mousing: Appropriately, all the action is timed to the overture of The Thieving Magpie. The famous snare drums from the overture are here mimicked by a character creating the opening title by shooting holes with a gun.
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  • Scooby Stack: The three kings do this as they nervously peek out from behind a tree at the magpie.
  • Standard Snippet: The famous overture from The Thieving Magpie, also used in a far more disturbing context in A Clockwork Orange.
  • Thick-Line Animation: The cut-outs of the kings and in fact most of cut-outs are drawn deliberately crudely with thick lines.
  • Thieving Magpie: Of course! The magpie steals the three kings' crowns and the feathers from all the soldiers, before graduating to more advanced pranks.