Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Pagemaster, The

US live-action/Animated Movie (1994). 20th Century-Fox/Turner. Pr Paul Gertz, Michael R Joyce, David Kirschner. Dir Joe Johnston. Spfx Bob Hill, Al Magliochetti, Philip Meador. Vfx Dennis Skotak, Robert Skotak, Richard T Sullivan. Anim dir Maurice Hunt. Screenplay David Casci, Ernie Contreras, Kirschner. Starring Macaulay Culkin (Richard Tyler), Christopher Lloyd (Mr Dewey). Voice actors Culkin, Jim Cummings (Long John Silver), Whoopi Goldberg (Fantasy), Lloyd (Pagemaster), Leonard Nimoy (Jekyll/Hyde), Patrick Stewart (Adventure), Frank Welker (Horror). 75 mins. Colour.

A freak electric storm guides young, paranoid Richard to a vast Library, deserted aside from its eccentric librarian, Mr Dewey. Richard slips and knocks himself unconscious. A great painted dome in the library comes to life as a torrent of malignant, multi-hued paint, and he is transported into a Toon world. Seeking the library's exit, he is befriended by three books called Adventure, Fantasy and Horror, who agree to be the Companions on his Quest if he will take them out with him. First, though, they have to negotiate the lands of Horror (as epitomized by a haunted house [> Haunted Dwellings] occupied by Jekyll and Hyde), Adventure (populated by Captain Ahab from Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, Long John Silver and his Pirates from Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island [1883]) and Fantasy (where there is a brief skirmish with Lilliputians from Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels [1726] and a much longer one with a Dragon [from whose stomach Richard escapes with the aid of Jack's beanstalk], with some Arabian Fantasy swilled in). On return to the mundane world Richard is no longer slave to his fears.

TP is not shy of drawing on other sources; further debts are owed to Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865), to Pinocchio (1940) and, of course, in terms of the overall notion, to The Neverending Story (1979) by Michael Ende. Little is done with most of these borrowed ideas: the overall affect of TP is of a perfunctory touching of bases. The early animation – when a live-action Richard is being pursued among the library shelves by floods of paint – is impressive, but thereafter the animation defaults towards simplicity. TP apparently took three years to make, but it is hard to see why. [JG]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.