With brilliant imagination and technical wizardry, this 1954 feature film used stop-action animation, and hand-sculpted dolls and sets to create a fantasy land of unearthly beauty. Set to Engelbert Humperdinck's classic 1892 opera, sung by some of the most acclaimed performers of the 1950's, this recording was nominated for a Grammy Award. This may be the definative production of one of the greatest fairy tales ever told, and it is now on DVD. Written by
Despite its European, "old world" look, Hansel and Gretel was made in New York City. Indeed the comments to the contrary are a tribute to the filmmakers' success in evoking a genuine fairy tale style. Nonetheless, the film was shot using conventional stop-motion puppets (notwithstanding the producer's claims to using some sort of mysterious "electronic" method) in the main room of an abandoned courthouse which is still standing at the corner of Second Avenue and Second Street in New York City. The large set was built in the main chamber on the second floor (now the largest of several theaters in what is currently (2005) the Anthology Film Archives).
Apparently electromagnets were used to hold the stop-motion puppets in place during some sequences, but normal procedures were used for the rest. This and some hype that lured in backers may account for the mistaken report that they are electronic puppets. They were solid, armature puppets and not clay (or "claymation") dolls.
The set survived the production and actually toured county fairs as a fairy tale exhibit for many years after the completion of the film.
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