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The Thief And The Cobbler [DVD]

Richard Williams    Universal, suitable for all   DVD
2.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
Price: 4.60 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Product details

  • Directors: Richard Williams
  • Producers: Richard Williams, Imogen Sutton
  • Format: PAL
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: Lions Gate Home Entertainment UK Ltd
  • DVD Release Date: 13 Feb 2012
  • Run Time: 72 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B006C16EHY
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 90,281 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



Directed by Oscar-winning animator Richard Williams (Who Framed Roger Rabbit), The Thief and the Cobbler began production in 1968, so it actually predates 1992's Aladdin. Also known as The Princess and the Cobbler and Arabian Knight, Fred Calvert completed the film after Williams lost the rights to his dream project. Narrated by Matthew Broderick as Tack the Cobbler, the CinemaScope-shot story takes place in ancient Baghdad. When Tack upsets Zigzag the Vizier (Vincent Price), the wizard drags him off to the royal castle, where Princess Yum Yum (Jennifer Beals) falls for the bashful boy and saves him from execution. Unfortunately, Zigzag plans to marry the princess in order to succeed her father, King Nod (Clive Revill). The Thief (Jonathan Winters), meanwhile, is more interested in gold than love and takes off with the protective orbs topping the palace. Together Tack and Yum Yum attempt to retrieve them in order to prevent Zigzag and the One-Eye army from conquering the city. Featuring fanciful hand-drawn animation, which borders on Yellow Submarine-style surrealism.

Product Description

Richard Williams directs this animated Arabian adventure about a lowly cobbler who falls in love with a Princess. Brought to the royal palace after incurring the wrath of evil sorcerer Zigzag (voice of Vincent Price), shy cobbler Tack (voice of Matthew Broderick) quickly falls for the charms of Princess Yum Yum (voice of Jennifer Beals). Unfortunately for Tack, however, Zigzag has his own plans to marry the Princess in order to take control of the kingdom from her father.

Customer Reviews

2.2 out of 5 stars
2.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A travesty of what it was meant to be 30 Dec 2007
By A. J. Sturgess TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
At best it is disingenuous to say that this animation is the work of, and directed by, Richard Williams. At worst it is a totally false claim. The history behind this film is well to known to anyone who admires the work of Richard Williams ..... he devoted a substantial part of his recent life, and virtually all his private savings, to creating a film into which he wanted to pour his entire knowledge and understanding of animation techniques and storytelling. In the end, the project bankrupted him and his all work was bought by Harvey Weinstein's group who then set about finishing it ...... but in doing so they went the full hog and added truly abysmal, schmalzy songs; animation sequences that are as flat as a pancake when compared to RW's originals; and voice-overs and character-voices which are so lifeless that they drain the life out of everything. Only a few original recordings which were completed and left intact suggest what we should have been able to hear and experience. (eg: the Brigand leader).

The only reason to buy this movie now is to seek out and marvel at RW's original sequences. It is no coincidence that you can currently only buy this as a Region 1 DVD. However, the most telling fact is that RW wanted his name removed from the credits but it has been retained against his wishes. There is nothing else to recommend this mish-mash except for the knowledge that buried within its Americanised, sugary dullness there are still whole sections which show RW at his imaginative best. That is why I award this movie 2 stars ..... but if you hope to see a true Richard Williams movie, look elsewhere or you will be totally disappointed.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Richard Williams' legendary labour of love The Thief and the Cobbler is one of those films that was just born unlucky. After spending three decades working on it, the animator over-ran the budget and was taken off his own picture, with the gaps filled in by cheap Thai and Hungarian animation that sticks out like a sore thumb, many of the original voice cast (Anthony Quayle, Donald Pleasance, Felix Aylmer, Sean Connery) redubbed, musical numbers added and the film retitled The Princess and the Cobbler in a version that only seems to have ever been released in Australia (sadly, the Australian DVD is panned and scanned from the original Scope ratio, as is this release). Then, to add insult to injury, Miramax re-edited that version even further from Williams' intentions and retitled it Arabian Knight to cash-in on the success of Aladdin, leading to a film intentionally designed as anti-Disney animation being marketed as the very thing its creator was rebelling against.

The Miramax cut presented here is quite painful to watch at times, not least because of the horrendous non-stop stream of subconciousness mutterings from Jonathan Winters dubbed over the silent character of the Thief, best described as the cinematic equivalent of sitting next to a loquacious drunk with exceptionally bad breath on the last bus home. At one point Roy Disney tried to restore the film to its original conception, seeking out the lost and unused sequences and talking about getting Williams to finish the film his way - only for the Disney-Eisner feud to see the film's champion leave the company and the film in the Weinstein's tender mercies.

The film would never have been a masterpiece: for all it's visual audacity there never seems to have been enough of a story.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This is painful to watch and only leaves me feeling a bitter after taste in my mouth! Don't waste your money, watch the "fan edit" on YouTube!!! The DVD reproduction is so bad, I can't believe that HMV would be selling it at 22 in the high street!! It isn't even worth 7 on here! The standard of the transfer makes it just about interesting if it was free in a cereal box (which it was in America). This film has been spoilt and it is hard to watch knowing a mans life work could be taken away from him and reduced to this!! Richard Williams is a gifted artist and deserves better!!

The colour reproduction is very bad, it might as well be a bootleg or pirate copy!! I am sending mine back today!

There are more than enough blogs and web sites and reviews on other amazon sites about this films unfortunate history. In short what I want to relay to everyone here is that what your buying is the incomplete version. I find it hard watching a film that has such a negative reputation as this one. Richard Williams spent over thirty years working on this masterpiece of animation art only for the men in suits to step in and take away the project from Williams at its last hurdle in production because it was in the red. Disney took over the project and cynically cut it up and re voiced it crudely with cheap songs and new dialog over explaining everything. It was originally filmed in a ratio of 2:35 and that is not the ratio here! The DVD resolution for this edit is poor and so what we have is just not even reasonable. Roy Disney did try to convince the Disney company some years ago to restore the film as Williams had wanted it but naturally the pitch failed when Roy left the company.
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