Dragon’s Lair Movie Launches Indiegogo Campaign (After Canceling Its Kickstarter)

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Remember the Kickstarter for the Dragon’s Lair movie? Well, it got canceled … after it became clear that the project wouldn’t meet its goals. Good news for Dragon’s Lair fans, though: Don Bluth has taken the project to Indiegogo, where it’s already received a lot more supporters and looks well on its way to succeeding. Recall that this crowd-fund is technically for a “sizzle reel” to be shown to investors, not a full Dragon’s Lair movie — although a feature-length animated film is the eventual goal.

Just in case Don Bluth’s name doesn’t already ring a bell (or several), he’s best known as the animation master behind all of those animated films that you think might be Disney movies but actually aren’t: An American Tail, Anastasia, The Secret of NIMH, The Land Before Time, All Dogs Go to Heaventhe list goes on. He also animated an 80s arcade game called Dragon’s Lair, which was actually an FMV game. Dragon’s Lair already looked and felt like an animated movie, except that it was also fiendishly difficult.

One reason why Dragon’s Lair stands out from Bluth’s other projects, at least in my mind, is that it’s somewhat notorious for its cheesecake-y depiction of Princess Daphne, the game’s resident damsel in distress. In the cartoon, which came out later, Daphne wore a pink dress and gold crown reminiscent of the outfits of her contemporaries (Peach, Zelda, et al). But in the original game, Bluth “took his inspirations from photographs from the producer Gary Goldman’s collection of old issues of Playboy magazine” in order to design Daphne’s outfit and poses.

This always struck me as somewhat incongruous with Bluth’s other work, from Anatasia to The Secret of NIMH to the under-appreciated Titan A.E. Daphne — and the entire plot of Dragon’s Lair, actually — seems very old school in comparison to these other projects, both when it comes to narrative complexity and animation style.

When Dragon’s Lair first came out in 1983, it was one of the first games that represented characters without using simplistic sprites. It wasn’t until the ’90s that videogame marketing experienced a shift towards focusing on “boys” rather than marketing to “everyone,” as had happened in the ’70s and ’80s. Still, I can’t help but see Dragon’s Lair as one of the first examples of a game that introduced a lot of tropes that still endure in games now, from its medieval setting to its compliant damsel. Unfortunately, these are tropes that I consider really boring as a result of seeing them played out so many times.

So I’m not sure whether or not I’d like a Dragon’s Lair movie, even though I’ve really enjoyed every other thing Don Bluth has done. His films tend to be unusual, creepy, memorable, and (if you ask me) cool as heck — but Dragon’s Lair? I never really got into it. Still, it would be pretty interesting if the movie ended up subverting a lot of the old school videogame tropes that its first iteration introduced.

What do you all think? Are you planning to help Don Bluth get a Dragon’s Lair project off the ground? Or would you rather see him work on a different project?

(via Pajiba)

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Maddy Myers
Maddy Myers, journalist and arts critic, has written for the Boston Phoenix, Paste Magazine, MIT Technology Review, and tons more. She is a host on a videogame podcast called Isometric (relay.fm/isometric), and she plays the keytar in a band called the Robot Knights (robotknights.com).