Friday, 14 June 2013

The Little Engine That Could (1991)

Long, long before the Rev. W. Awdry first came up with The Three Railway Engines and Casey Junior rolled in with Disney's Dumbo, this age-old story about self-confidence and optimism has been trundling along for decades. Various versions of "The Little Engine That Could" have been published and adapted many times in different forms of media - the strongest version written by one Watty Piper in 1930 - but the one adaptation that many folks remember came in the form of a 1991 animated film.
This version, believe or not, came from a Welsh Animation Co, Kalato Animation, co-financed by Universal Studios and SC4. Directed and produced by Dave Edwards and Mike Young, it is what I consider to be a firm example of what Traditional Animation can still accomplish despite exaggerated rumours that this art form has been "scrapped" following Disney's release of "Paperman". To add, this was also the same animation company that blessed us British with Superted and Hilltop Hospital.

I used to watch this over and over on my little VHS, and it still holds up today in terms of a good story (which, while faithful to the original text, expands nicely on the supporting characters), beautifully-crafted animation and a strong voice cast - all American, of course, which features Kath Soucie, Frank Welker, B.J Ward and Neil Ross among others.

While The Powers That Be may still see the future of CGI animation, there's no denying that even Pixar and Dreamworks had to begin with pencil and paper. In fact, in recent years, Traditional Animation is still being observed and respected as "smear / multiple effects" are applied to Computer Animation today. 

Even so, not even this 2011 CGI adaptation could compare with Dave and Mike's own Little Engine...that could and did!

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