Quest For Camelot - VHS
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For this feature-length foray into Arthurian animation, screenwriters Kirk DeMicco (A Day in November), William Schifrin (Townies), Jacqueline Feather (Dancing in the Dark), and David Seidler (Tucker, Dancing in the Dark) adapted The King's Damosel (1976) by British novelist Vera Chapman. The 85-minute tale follows independent, strong-willed Kayley (Jessalyn Gilsig voice, with the singing of Andrea Corr), who hopes to follow the path of her late father, Sir Lionel (Gabriel Byrne), a brave Knight of the Round Table who died defending his king against the evil Ruber (Gary Oldman). Some years later, when Ruber is joined by sidekick Griffin (Bronson Pinchot), the two manage to acquire and then lose Excalibur, the legendary magic sword of King Arthur (Pierce Brosnan with Steve Perry singing). Preparatory to his invasion of Camelot, Ruber first kidnaps Kayley and her widowed mother, Lady Juliana (Jane Seymour, Celine Dion singing). Making an escape, Kayley travels through the haunted Forbidden Forest, where she meets Garrett (Cary Elwes, Bryan White singing), a bitter blind man assisted by his silver-winged, seeing-eye falcon, Ayden. Once King Arthur's stable boy, Garrett dreamed of becoming a knight, but after he was blinded by a fire, he ran away to live in the Forbidden Forest. When Garrett learns Kayley is the daughter of the knight who trained him to fight, he agrees to help Kayley search for Excalibur. Falling in love with Kayley, Garrett soon finds the courage to start anew. With the blessing of Merlin (Sir John Gielgud), the couple sets out to save Camelot. Along the way, they meet the two-headed dragon, Devon (Eric Idle) and Cornwall (Don Rickles), a dragon duo delivering dotty dialogue replete with riotous riffs and cinematic references (to such films as Dirty Harry and Taxi Driver). Yet another supporting character is Bladebeak, a cutting-edge hybrid possibly fashioned to illustrate the axiom, "Don't count your chickens before they're a hatchet." Following the live-action/animation combo of Space Jam, this is the first fully animated feature from the L.A.-based Warner Brothers Feature Animation unit, and the film began production May 26, 1995 in L.A., expanding operations February 11, 1996 with a sister studio in London: a 20,000-square-foot facility in London's Covent Garden district. The new UK unit shared production duties on Quest for Camelot, receiving storyboards from L.A., animating with both computers and traditional techniques, and digitally transmitting completed art back to L.A. for ink and paint. At the London WBFA studio, John McKenna (previously head exec of the London City Ballet and Disney's London studio manager) initially supervised a staff of 73 (including 50 artists from the British animation talent pool) that expanded to 350. The film eventually employed over 600 staffers as it ran through a variety of working titles (The Quest for the Grail, The Quest, The Quest for Camelot). Songs by Grammy-winners David Foster and Carole Bayer Sager include On My Father's Wings, (Kayley), I Stand All Alone (Garrett), The Prayer (Juliana), and If I Didn't Have You (Devon, Cornwall). The director of Quest for Camelot is Frederik Du Chau, who attended film school in his native Belgium, entered the industry via commercials and TV series, worked for Disney France, made his own animated short (The Mystery of the Land), drew Disney projects at Baer Animation, co-directed for Sony Wonder, directed The Land Before Time 3, joined Chuck Jones Productions, and was developing his own animated project for Warner Bros. when he was asked to direct Quest for Camelot. ~ Bhob Stewart, Rovi