Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Williams, Richard

(1933-    ) Canadian-born UK animator and animation director, widely regarded – notably among other animators – as the finest living exponent of his art. But business seems not to be his forte, for much of his talent has been expended on minor projects, including title sequences (e.g., What's New Pussycat? [1965], Casino Royale [1967]) and tv commercials – some of which have won awards. Such for-the-money excursions have been done as a decades-sustained attempt to subsidize his lifework, «The Thief and the Cobbler», a movie that has not been and may never be released: in the 1990s, as RW's finances yet again became parlous, the movie-so-far was bought by Disney on the grounds that it would be finished by that studio, but (according to unconfirmed reports) the standard was so high that the project was shelved indefinitely.

RW is best-known for Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), for which he was Animation Director. For this he and his team used traditional animation techniques – RW is possibly the last major animator to resist modern technology – to create the finest Toon illusion yet seen. (He was also involved in the two Disney Roger Rabbit shorts that followed: Tummy Trouble [1989] and Rollercoaster Rabbit [1990].) But there have been other major works. Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, Being a Ghost Story of Christmas (1971 tvm), although only short and made for tv, is extremely impressive (> A Christmas Carol), as is the full-length theatrical feature Raggedy Ann and Andy (1977), based on stories by Johnny Gruelle (1880-1938), which mixes some live action with the animation: Toys come alive to Quest in rescue of an abducted Doll. It is very much to be hoped that RW will re-emerge to demonstrate yet again to all makers of Animated Movies the standards they should be seeking to attain. [JG]

Richard Williams

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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.