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The Forgotten Firebird
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San Diego 1980

saw Phoenix 2772 when it actually was screened for a large auditorium audience at the 1980 San Diego Comic Book convention - it was there that I saw it in its entirety for the first time.
      Tezuka himself was also there. He also brought the film Bander's Book and Cleopatra with him and he was introduced, as I remember it, by Mark Evanier I think. These films were screened in a small room for the group of people in the room. I was also there (seated in the audience) to see him and the films.
      To clear up any confusion: there were two Tezuka screenings - Bander's Book, Cleopatra 2000, and parts of Phoenix 2772 were shown in a room with a small audience gathering. I believe the host for that wonderful event was Mark Evanier. Tezuka sat in the room while Evanier spoke - I seem to recall being two rows back from Dr. Tezuka.
      The second screening took place in a large Hotel auditorium. All the seats were filled for the complete showing of Phoenix 2772.
       I remember how people loved the opening sequence with the birth and education of Godo. The long overhead zooming shot of the air-car flying down the freeway was, at the immediate end of the scene, appauded delightfully by the audience. They had certainly never seen anything like that before.
      The character with the large brush (can't recall his name for the moment) stole the show and got a ton of laughs.
      Also astonishing to the large crowd in attendence were the sequence where Godo gets into a fistfight with Blackjack. Keep in mind that this crowd probably had only seen the 70s animated films that were cleaned-up by Disney, Hanna & Barbera, Warners, and Filmation. During those times the heavy Parental Watch Groups movement against advertisers struck fear in the heart of American network television causing them to edit and clean any violence on TV during the 70s decade. So that brutal fistfight/boxing match between Godo and Blackjack was a highly unusual sight for the audience. They loved it!
      When Godo first appears in his space outfit (the one you see in my fan drawing) I remember the 'Oohs' and 'ahhs' that came up from the audience. The clothing designs looked very cool and people were not expecting that kind of look and attention to style in the film.
      I also remember that the audience still liked the music scenes - even the scene where the music and timing was off when the creatures tried to create music for Olga, on board the Tiger Shark.
       I don't clearly remember the re-action to the ending. People applauded at the end because they generally enjoyed the film. But I don't recall how much that re-action was for the mystical-like ending.

      There was no animated movie like it at that time. It was not anything like a Warners comedy cartoons or like a Disney cartoon.
      It was a Science Fiction-type story of some kind. I've never seen anyone attempt such a thing with an animated movie before (and it was told the way he wanted to tell it).
      No, it wasn't a very good film. But I adored it - and so did the large audience in attendance that I saw it with at the auditorium at that time.
       It looks old fashion and outdated now, but it was well recieved back then - and it won a couple of awards too! ("Winner of the Inkpot Award at the 1980 San Diego Comic Convention, and the Animation Award at the 1st Las Vegas Film Festival, 1980" - Anime News Network Encyclopedia)

Winston Jackson
February 2006

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