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Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a movie that combines animation and live action, and is a unique chance to see many cartoons from different studios in a single film. It was one of the last star turns for Mel Blanc and other voice actors of animation's Golden Era before they died. The film is set in a fictionalized Los Angeles in the 1940s, where animated characters live alongside humans in the real world, most of them working as actors in cartoons. It is based on the book Who Censored Roger Rabbit by Gary K. Wolf.


Warning: Wikipedia contains spoilers

Roger Rabbit, a cartoon star ("toon"), is accused of murdering his friend Marvin Acme because he played pattycake with Roger's wife Jessica Rabbit (voiced by an unbilled Kathleen Turner). The only person who can help clear his name is Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins), a detective who hates "toons" because one killed his brother a long time ago.

It just so happens that Judge Doom and The Weasels have killed Marvin Acme and RK Maroon and Eddie's Brother. A subplot, based on real events, involves a giant auto company plotting to replace the interurban railway with freeways.


Live Action Directed by Robert Zemeckis, Animation Directed by Richard Williams.

The 1988 film stars Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Joanna Cassidy and the voice of Charles Fleischer. It was adapted by Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman from Gary Wolf's novel Who Censored Roger Rabbit?.

The movie won Academy Awards for Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing, Best Effects, Visual Effects, Best Film Editing and a Special Award for Richard Williams for animation direction and creation of the cartoon characters. It was nominated for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Cinematography and Best Sound.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit is seen as a landmark film that sparked a renaissance in the animation industry. The field of American animation had become lackluster and worn-out during the 1960s and 1970s, to the point where even giants in the field such as The Walt Disney Company were considering giving up on major animated productions. This expensive film (production cost of $50 million - a staggering amount for the time) was a major risk for the that paid off handsomely. It inspired other studios to dive back into the field of animation; it also made animation acceptable with the moviegoing public. After Roger Rabbit, interest in the history of animation exploded, and such legends in the field as Tex Avery, Chuck Jones, and even Ralph Bakshi were seen in a new light, receiving much-deserved credit and acclaim from audiences worldwide.

The movie opens with a Roger Rabbit short subject and several independent animated shorts featuring Roger Rabbit, Jessica Rabbit, and Baby Herman were released. These shorts were presented in front of various Touchstone/Disney features in an attempt to revive short subject animation as a part of the moviegoing experience.


The story goes that there were several easter eggs hidden by the animators. Tape-based analog video such as VHS did not reveal these, but better image quality delivering technologies such as the laserdisc were said to reveal amongst others the phone number of former Disney CEO Michael Eisner and parts of Jessica's anatomy that are deemed unsuitable viewing for children in some cultures. Disney recalled the Laserdisc and issued another disc, later claiming that it was an incorrectly painted cel. Oddly, they also stated that the cel in question could be seen on the new disc and on the VHS version, raising the question "if it's on the VHS version too, why was only the laserdisc recalled, and if the new discs were reissued with the same flawed cell, why did they go through the trouble in the first place?"

Much of the cinematography and several scenes of the film are an homage to Roman Polanski's Chinatown.

Previous Films Combining Live action with Animation

Audiences were amazed by the ground-breaking special effects used in Who Framed Roger Rabbit to create a "realistic" portrayal of the interaction of animated characters and live actors. While the film did this with more advanced technology than previous films, the combination of animation and live action had been practised since the beginnings of animated cartoons, often to very good effect. The Walt Disney version of Mary Poppins with Julie Andrews and Dick van Dyke dancing with animated penguins was a huge success in 1964. Prior to that, the 1940 Warner Bros cartoon You Ought To Be In Pictures (directed by Friz Freleng) can be seen as a predecessor to Roger Rabbit, while the animated sequence in the film Anchors Aweigh in which Gene Kelly dances with an animated Jerry Mouse is one of the actor's most famous scenes. In the days of silent film, Walt Disney's first directorial efforts (years before Mickey Mouse was born) were the animated Alice short cartoons, in which a young girl named Alice interacted with animated cartoon characters, which in turn was a variation on the earlier popular cartoons of Max Fleischer where his cartoon character Koko the Clown interacted with the live world, such as having a boxing match with a live kitten. The tradition goes all the way back to the earliest days of animation with Winsor McCay's Gertie the Dinosaur, which climaxes with a scene in which the live-action narrator enters the animated landscape and takes a ride on the famous dinosaur's back.