Animation classic hits the big screen after decades away
“You are not supposed to reunite with your first love after you have parted ways,” said Shin Dong-heon, now 80. “Please keep in mind that the film was made 40 years ago.”
Mr. Shin’s animation is based on a series of cartoons that were produced by Shin Dong-woo, a late cartoonist and the director’s own brother, for the Youth Chosun Ilbo for four years starting in 1965.
Mr. Shin, the director, began working in the animation industry in 1957 after watching Disney’s “Peter Pan.”
Veteran animators and the film’s production crew, including Jeon Jeong-geun, 76, who was in charge of sound, attended the screening this month.
During the scene in which skeletons dance the Twist, the director said: “The Twist was very popular at the time. The audiences were thrilled with the scene.”
The production of “Hong Gil-dong” was a thorny path. The feature animation was done using film donated by the U.S. Navy. The drawings were erased with sodium hydroxide, and snow scenes were done using egg shells.
“We slept one or two hours on average for about 40 days before the film was released,” said Jo Min-cheol, who was on the staff at the time. “It’s unbelievable how we were able to do that.”
Mr. Shin agrees.
It was an immense box office success. The line of people near Daehan Theater in Chungmuro, central Seoul, extended out to the gate of Dongguk University. The police were stationed nearby to prevent accidents. In nine days from its release, the film attracted 100,000 people.
Mr. Lee, who provided the restored film, is in the process of negotiating with a producer regarding copyright issues to screen the film on television. Meanwhile part of the restored clips from the film will be played on Saturday, 10 a.m. on KBS’s “Lost Memory ― Animation Hong Gil-dong.”
By Kim Phil-gyu JoongAng Ilbo firstname.lastname@example.org
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