Hansel and Gretel: An Opera Fantasy

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Hansel and Gretel
Hansel and Gretel An Opera Fantasy.jpg
DVD cover
Directed byJohn Paul
Written byPadraic Colum
Produced byMichael Myerberg
Starring
CinematographyMartin Munkacsi
Edited byJames F. Barclay
Music byFranz Allers
Distributed byRKO Radio Pictures
Release date
  • October 10, 1954 (1954-10-10)
Running time
72 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish

Hansel and Gretel is a 1954 stop-motion animated theatrical feature film released by RKO Radio Pictures.

Production[edit]

The film is based on Engelbert Humperdinck's opera Hänsel und Gretel, from which its music derives. It was the first American feature-length animated film not made by Disney since 1941's Mr. Bug Goes to Town and the first American feature-length animated film not made with traditional animation.

In 1952, Evalds Dajevskis began working for Myerberg Productions to conceptualize the look of the film and design the miniature sets.[1] Dajevskis built the sets out of thick papier-mâché, appliqued paper cutouts and painted backings. The witch's gingerbread house, the Hall of the Angels, and Hansel and Gretel's home were all constructed with trap doors underneath. Because the sets were so large, there was no way to reach and animate the figures except from below.[2]

The film was shot in Myerberg's studio in New York.[3] The puppets used in the film were called "kinemins."[4][5] The bodies of the kinemins were sculpted in clay by James Summers and cast in foam latex by George Butler. Summers also painted the figures.[2] The puppets were built to one-third scale and cost $2,500 each to build.[6]

The witch character was renamed Rosina Rubylips. This differs from the original opera in which the witch tells Hansel that her name is Rosine Leckermaul (translated as Rosina Tastymuzzle).[7]

The mother and father figures were sculpted to resemble Mildred Dunnock (Death of a Salesman) and Frank Rogier, who supplied their voices.[2]

After production, the Hansel and Gretel sets were disassembled, carted away and eventually sold to an amusement park where they were poorly reconstructed in a tent for display. In 1955, vandals looted Myerberg's studio and destroyed the remaining kinemins.[2]

In 1965, screenwriter Padraic Colum sold his copy of the screenplay (along with his notebooks, manuscripts, galley proofs and letters) to the Binghamton University Libraries,[8] where it is available for research viewing.[9]

In 1971, producer Myerberg donated his personal papers to the library of the University of Wisconsin–Madison.[10] Hansel and Gretel is among the productions documented through correspondence, contracts, financial records, promotional materials, reviews and scripts.[11]

Cast[edit]

Release[edit]

The film was released on October 10, 1954 in New York City without a distributor; producer Michael Myerberg released the film himself.[12] Based on the positive reviews and box office performance, RKO Radio Pictures acquired the film for wide release for the Christmas season.[13] The film was sold to television four years after it was released, where it became a Christmas-season tradition on several stations.

The film was rereleased theatrically in 1965 through New Trends Associates,[13] and in March 1973 through Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.[14]

The film has been released on VHS, CED videodisc and DVD. The VHS and CED videodiscs contain the original title. The DVD was released on October 30, 2001[15] with the modified title of Hansel and Gretel: An Opera Fantasy.

An LP of the film's soundtrack was released in 1955 under the label "X" RCA, in 1959 under the label RCA Victor and in 1960 under the label RCA Camden.[16] In 1959, it was nominated for a Grammy award in the category of Best Recording for Children.[17]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Merchandise[edit]

RKO heavily promoted the film in time for the 1954 Christmas season, including $10 million worth of products such as candy, clothing, figurines and toys.[20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Stop 24". The Art of Evalds Dajevskis. Retrieved April 14, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d Starlog Press (April 14, 1984). "CineMagic Issue #28". Retrieved April 14, 2018 – via Internet Archive.
  3. ^ "Archival Resources in Wisconsin: Descriptive Finding Aids". digicoll.library.wisc.edu. Retrieved April 14, 2018.
  4. ^ AFI|Catalog - Hansel and Gretel
  5. ^ "Movie Review - - The Screen in Review; At Broadway: Puppets in 'Hansel and Gretel' - NYTimes.com". www.nytimes.com. Retrieved February 3, 2017.
  6. ^ Inc, Nielsen Business Media (November 28, 1953). "Billboard". Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved April 14, 2018 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ BWW News Desk. "The Bronx Opera Presents HANSEL & GRETEL". Retrieved April 14, 2018.
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 9, 2017. Retrieved September 20, 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ [1][dead link]
  10. ^ "Archival Resources in Wisconsin: Descriptive Finding Aids". digicoll.library.wisc.edu. Retrieved April 14, 2018.
  11. ^ "Archival Resources in Wisconsin: Descriptive Finding Aids". digicoll.library.wisc.edu. Retrieved April 14, 2018.
  12. ^ Priebe, Kenneth A. (January 1, 2011). The Advanced Art of Stop-Motion Animation. Cengage Learning. ISBN 978-1435457041.
  13. ^ a b Beck, Jerry (October 28, 2005). The Animated Movie Guide. Chicago Review Press. ISBN 9781569762226.
  14. ^ "Banner Graphic 14 March 1973 — Hoosier State Chronicles: Indiana's Digital Historic Newspaper Program". newspapers.library.in.gov. Retrieved April 14, 2018.
  15. ^ "Hansel & Gretel: An Opera Fantasy DVD Movie". www.cduniverse.com. Retrieved April 14, 2018.
  16. ^ "Hansel and Gretel - 1954 Soundtrack". Retrieved April 14, 2018.
  17. ^ a b "Grammy Award Nominees 1959 - Grammy Award Winners 1959". www.awardsandshows.com. Retrieved April 14, 2018.
  18. ^ "Motion Picture Daily (Oct-Dec 1954)". Quigley Publishing Company, inc. October 1, 1954. Retrieved April 14, 2018 – via Internet Archive.
  19. ^ "Hansel And Gretel And Opera Fantasy - Dove Family Friendly Movie Reviews". Retrieved April 14, 2018.
  20. ^ Beck, Jerry (October 28, 2005). The Animated Movie Guide. Chicago Review Press. p. 103. Retrieved April 14, 2018 – via Internet Archive.
  21. ^ Herlocher, Dawn (May 29, 2005). 200 Years of Dolls: Identification and Price Guide. Krause Publications. ISBN 9780896891678. Retrieved April 14, 2018 – via Google Books.

External links[edit]