If you're a child of the '80s—or just an animation nerd—the name "Don Bluth" should ring a bell. Though his career didn't end on the greatest note, this former Disney artist is responsible for bringing us memorable animated movies like The Secret of NIMH and An American Tail
More relevant to this website, of course, is Bluth's work on 1983's Dragon's Lair. Though its game-like qualities are perfunctory at best, the 22 minutes of movie-quality animation packed within its single laserdisc stands as a nearly perfect expression of the art form. Mostly divorced from any real narrative or dialogue, Dragon's Lair amounts to a collection of purely visual fantasy vignettes, depicted in Bluth's very iconic style.
Dragon's Lair hasn't exactly been dead since its original rise to power in arcades; in fact, it's one of the most consistently available games of all time. And its legacy didn't stop at one game, either: There's a sequel, of course, an animated series, and a few non-animated interpretations that are probably best forgotten. And now, 32 years after the series' debut, Bluth and his producer partner Gary Goldman are looking to bring Dragon's Lair to the big screen through the power of Kickstarter.
If the goal of $550,000 sounds a bit low to fund an animated feature with high-quality animation, there's a very good reason for that. This Kickstarter isn't intended to fund an actual movie, but rather, a pitch for the movie, which can then be shopped around to prospective studios. To put things in perspective, making animated films is incredibly expensive to the point where taking risks of any sort is basically verboten; some of Bluth's biggest films, like Anastasia, had budgets that reached into the tens of millions. By developing a pitch for a Dragon's Lair movie, Bluth and Goldman could conceivably have an easier time convincing a studio to hand over said tens of millions. (Though you do have to wonder why the 22 minutes of existing Dragon's Lair animation couldn't serve as a proof-of-concept.)
As of this writing—and with 26 days left to go—the Dragon's Lair: The Movie Kickstarter hasn't cleared the six-figure mark, but any fan of Bluth should definitely check out the rewards—even if most of the really good ones (like an animation lesson from Bluth himself) are probably out of most people's price range. And while the messaging could stand to be a little better, there's something a bit heartwarming about the nearly 80-year-old Bluth jumping back into the world of traditional 2D animation after a 15-year hiatus. To be honest, at this point it doesn't seem all that likely Dragon's Lair: The Movie will meet its lofty goal, but, whatever happens, let's hope Bluth can at least find a similarly worthwhile project to go out on.