Sunday, May 15, 2005
And the really tough ones to find, made here in Australia!
And most interesting of all:
It's been remade in the US recently as Marco Polo: Return to Xanadu, but what disturbs me is that there appears to be no mention of Porter's original film (or of Australia) even though the characters and situations appear to me to be identical (see character sheet below)! The original Australian version was released on VHS in some countries (though now completely deleted), so a comparison might prove interesting - this bears further investigation, particularly of the credits on the recent version.**
(*The Grendel picture is the cover to the newly released soundtrack CD from 1M1 records - ** The Marco Polo images are an original 1972 film poster available from the eBayer dealer, John Reid, and a 2002 animation still character sheet from Lobitos Creek Ranch animation).
However, Gross and Co. did kind of cash in a bit with a long string of increasingly strained sequels - Dot and the Bunny on up to Dot in Space and Dot Goes to Hollywood. They've done plenty of other nice stuff though, including Blinky Bill and Tabaluga for TV.
Overall, quality product.
For a real Australian animated travesty, there's always The Magic Pudding (not by Yoram Gross, but a bunch of other studios). I thought for years about how to best make a film of this - I wish someone had asked me! :))
terribly sad about the american rip-off if its true!?!
what a shame!
Well, it's nice to know that Marco is still remembered! I was one of the animation directors on the original film, and for a budget of just over half a million 1970's dollars (as against Disney's then average 4-5 million), I reckon we didn't do too badly!
I've seen the American remake; it uses a lot of our original footage, but the story veers off into time travel and outer space, and is really a bit of a mish-mash.
Incidentally; I've also worked on "Dot" and "Pudding", but the most fun I ever had was on "Yellow Submarine" when I was working in the UK in the 1960's.
It's good to have the mystery about the two versions cleared up, though the time and space stuff sounds to me like an unecessary distraction. The original is definite proof that a huge budget isn't needed to create a work of enduring worth, but imagination and vision is!
Recently, a friend bought me a copy of the picture book from this film and it brought back fond memories - great characters, an imaginative journey tale and wonderful animation work. I think this film may have been among the inspirations for the Disney films that followed the Little Mermaid resurgence (that really began with The Black Cauldron), particularly Mulan.
Wow, Yellow Submarine is still (rightly) regarded as an all-time classic and the pinnacle of British animation!
I still think highly of Dot and the Kangaroo too - the creative decisions made there (such as using real backgrounds) work well, and my children have all enjoyed this one when they were younger.
Thanks again for writing and I'm delighted that you found this page!
what a delight to see that not only somebody else knows my favorite childhood-movie... but also loves it the same way I did!!!
I still remember some scenes I only saw almost 30 years ago.. isn't that amazing? It's such a pity that this movie seems to be unavailable now.... even the Australian production company said that there is too little demande to finance a restauration of the material. I would LOVE to watch this movie again!!!
I still have the "book of the film" of MPJ. I saw it when I was 10 or so and it's impact has always stayed with me.
Interestingly, Richard Jones worked on it when he was at Eric Porter's studio and he told me a little about the project when he just popped in for a cuppa.
Sounds like we could form an elite little club right here, or perhaps form one on Facebook, where Poloholics can relate their experiences with one another. It's refreshing to know I'm not the only one who was inspired by this film enough to become a cartoonist!
I expressed my appreciation to my hosts and I've always remembered the experience as a highlight of my youth.
Unfortunately my ability to draw is poor and a career in animation production was not to be. Only five years later I found myself working at the Film Academy as a sound operator on the Channel Nine series, The Young Doctors. Later my understanding of animation served me well as an on-air promotions producer for Network Ten.
I recorded a broadcast many years ago and since then the children in my greater family and some friends, have had a chance to see this landmark in Australian film history. I would love to see a restored original cut released on DVD with commentaries and a discussion between people involved.
I have a copy of that book too, thanks to Steve Panozzo alerting me to it.
You might also be interested to know that the original version of Marco Polo Junior Versus the Red Dragon is available as part of the Family Fun (Advantage Collection DVD set. The films in this collection are in all their original, completely unremastered glory, but there are a number of lost classics that anyone interested in animation should see.
I have been looking for a copy of this "Marco Polo Jr." movie all over with no such luck. Thank you for mentioning that a copy of the ORIGINAL version comes as part of the Family Fun (Advantage Collection) dvd set. I am highly considering buying it, but I just wanted to double check first to ask if this IS indeed in fact the correct version I am looking for, with Bobby Rydell as the voice of Marco Polo Jr?? I am a huge fan of Bobby, and he is the reason I have been on the hunt to find this movie. If you could assure me that this is the right version, I would be extremely appreciative. Thank you. :]
Yes, I can confirm that the version of "Marco Polo Junior Versus the Red Dragon" included in that "Family Fun" collection is indeed the original, with the original voices and story.
The animated films in that set are no-frills, unremastered originals of a range of lost classics. They're fairly poor quality, but at least they're the films people remember.
It is a shame about the bad quality, but it shall just have to suffice for now. I am glad I found your blog which led me to finding a place to acquire a copy of this. Thank you for the info! :)
I've been following the comments on this thread, and am delighted that so many people still have such fond memories of "Marco". Yes, the version recently released on the Family Fun (Advantage Collection DVD set, although not really of good quality, is indeed the original one that we made.
Recently I've been approached by some producers to take part in a proposed documentary about Eric Porter; which I hope will go ahead. If it does, they will probably use footage from a short live action "behind the scenes" documentary we shot at the same time we were making the film.
Hugo the Hippo (1976) - fairly dark and imaginative children's film made in Hungary, but voiced for the US market by the Osmonds and various fine actors. The sharks were scary and the people even scarier! There was apparently a VHS NTSC release which may have been edited.
I don't believe it is (the Hungarian release that did get a DVD over there actually had some scenes edited out that had English signage used. The film itself was planned first in the US (story, music, art direction) and the rest was Hungarian, at least that's the view I get from it and from the few chats I had with it's director Bill Feigenbaum. Not sure how much input the Hungarians had for the film on their end, but the way it looks kept reminding me of what The Simpsons tried in their earlier seasons (namely Season One).
I once owned a 16mm print of the film too! It was released on VHS and/or Beta up here in the late 70's interestingly.
Although I don't recall "Grendel, Grendel, Grendel" another of Alex Stitt that did get some interesting reception via cable TV in the US was his second film "Abra Cadabra". I suppose this film didn't seen a home video release in Australia at all, both this and Grendel, Grendel, Grendel certainly deserve a DVD and/or Bluray release of sorts.
However, Gross and Co. did kind of cash in a bit with a long string of increasingly strained sequels - Dot and the Bunny on up to Dot in Space and Dot Goes to Hollywood.
It did seem like the live-action background deal got excessively used because of Dot & The Kangaroo's success, you see it in "The Little Convict" (which was labeled "Toby & The Koala Bear" up here), "Sarah", "Epic" and those later "Dot" spin-offs. Epic by the way got an odd re-edited/redubbed edition up here as well that's up on YouTube but I don't need to link it here.
I am still in discussion with Ronin Films,who are hoping to produce a TV documentary about Eric and Marco Polo Jr.; see: https://www.documentaryaustralia.com.au/films/763/letter-to-walt
I am in my mid 40's and since my childhood in the 70's I have hung on to 2 books that were based on the movie. The first is called "Marco Polo Junior - by Sea to Xanadu", the second "Marco Polo Junior - by Land to Xanadu".
However, they only cover half the movie - I assume there are two more books covering the Air and Fire journey.
I am now reading the books to my little kids, who are enthralled, but I would reallylove the last 2 books to complete the tale!
Can anyone help me where I can find them??
Regards and thanks!
Hi Marco Polo Jr. fans;
For those of you in Melbourne, there will be a seminar on the 27th and 28th of June about Eric Porter and Marco Polo Jr. at the ACMI Cinema, including a Q&A session with some of those who worked on it. See https://www.acmi.net.au/live-events/talks-performances/miaf-symposium/eric-porter-tribute/ See you there!
Later this year (date to be announced)there will be another tribute to Eric and Marco at the ASIFA (International Animated Film Association) annual meeting, hosted this year by Brisbane. Some behind the scenes of the making of Marco will be shown, as well as a similar Q&A session. Both events will screen the film as well.
Glad you like "Marco". I was one of the unit directors on the movie, and I can tell you that there were three books in all; the two you have, plus a third book entitled "The Adventures of Marco Polo Jr" which tells the complete story, also published by Paul Hamlyn. I've spotted a copy on Ebay: http://www.ebay.com/itm/THE-ADVENTURES-OF-MARCO-POLO-JUNIOR-Animated-tie-in-book-SIGNED-1st-ed-1973-/310376586939 but it's not cheap. Look around
Here are a lot more copies of "Adventures of Marco Pol Jr" on AddAll, at a very reasonable price:
And I can see why, you signed it!
I saw the newly restored digital print of Marco Polo Jr, which was screened at the recent ACMI event in Melbourne, and it looks really teriffic! The expensive restoration took several months, and there is now talk of a limited release on DVD by the Australian Film and Sound Archives. Check their website!
Good news! The beautiful, digitally restored "Marco Polo Jr vs the Red Dragon" will be released on DVD and BluRay by the National Film and Sound Archives in time for Xmas 2015. Also included (I hope) will be a ten minute behind-the-scenes extravaganza of the making of the film (with a much younger version of me appearing briefly). So go to their website and join me in wallowing in the nostalgia of it all!
Gail hall new brown
I still have cells about 12 _14 backgrounds setup for book
As well as porters yellow house cells
And grey tome add
Would love to.get copy of Marco. I was their at the end I Re throwing cells into a truck for the
I so half I kept them
You'll like the 10 minute live-action short Pete and I made of the making of Marco that is included as an extra on the DVD. Lots of closeups of people you'd remember; sadly too many of them are no longer with us.
I'm in discussions to make a feature-length documentary tribute to Eric Porter; so if you have any cells or other material that we might be able to use, I'd like to keep in touch. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org ; let me know your contact details, and I'll add you to our discussion circle.
All the best;
Also any updates on the quality difference on DVD, compared to the restored digital DCP master?
The other day, however, I searched on Google and find out it's a remake of a 70s film and there's actually a full movie on YouTube (I don't suppose YouTube allows copyrighted film, anyway I watched it). I finally find some closure to this cartoon. The remade version ending is more like to be continued. The original ending is sad but a good one.
By the way, I think there are Chinese involved in the remake. Opening and ending both involved fireworks, which is Chinese tradition. The antagonist, Foo-Ling(the Red Dragon) and the Princess Ming Yu(Shining Moon), and several supportive characters names are Chinese pinyin.
There is another series of screenings of the beautiful digitally restored Marco Polo Jr scheduled for April; this time at the ARC Cinema, McCoy Circuit in Canberra. Daytime sessions screen from Mon 18th to Fri 22nd April at 10am and there is an evening screening and Q&A session on Fri 15th April at 6.30pm: You will also be able to buy a DVD copy of the movie there.
See you there!
Cinemagic Animated Films Pty. Ltd.,
DVD-R never lasts well in the long term, so hopefully others will be warned now.
I'm eagerly forward to seeing the documentary on Porters.