Bill Plympton Restoring Winsor McCay’s The Flying House

Posted by July 16, 2011 Comment

This is a story that will resonate through the ages: a woman eats a rarebit and the cheese makes her have a dream. She imagines that her husband has converted their house into a flying machine and they’re running away on their mortgage. Adventures ensue.

1921’s The Flying House, also known as Watch Your House, was a late cartoon by comics genius Winsor McKay, and one of the four shorts he based upon his Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend strips. Shortly afterwards, William Randolph Hearst put his foot down and stopped McCay from “dabbling” in animation, forcing him to concentrate on comics for Hearst’s papers and the history of animation was changed forever.

The Flying House film could, like many other pictures of its age, use some tenderness, and a restoration is underway. Bill Plympton, one of this era’s best and most exciting animators, has used a Kickstarter project to raise money for the operation.

His pitch video includes some newly polished footage and special guest appearances from Patricia Clarkson and Matthew Modine, who will provide some voice work.

Okay, so that’s quite disappointing. Restoration is one thing, but colorisation? And removing the titles and replacing them with spoken dialogue? It does look like a sensitive and sensible restoration, but I’d have hoped for a “vanilla” version, simply bringing McCay’s film, the way he made it, back to good health.

(Last Updated July 16, 2011 8:21 am )

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