Icarus Montgolfier Wright

In early 1960, Ray Bradbury's short story “Icarus Montgolfier Wright” was adapted into an animated screenplay by Bradbury and George Clayton Johnson. Joseph Mugnaini was chosen to create all the artwork for the film.

Created almost a decade before the Apollo mission, the short film depicted asepects of the first manned flight to the moon with surprising accuracy. Icarus Montgolfier Wright was an animated gem, and its unique nature caught the attention of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, the Library of Congress, and even The White House.

Icarus was nominated for an Academy Award in 1962 but didn't win. Within a decade, most prints and negatives were lost or damaged beyond repair.

I spent nearly two years searching for surviving film elements, a journey that took me from Los Angeles to Washington, DC and from Wellington, New Zealand to Kyoto, Japan. I recovered more than a dozen 16mm prints, a lone 35mm print, and roughly 60 pieces of the original artwork used to make Icarus.

None of the prints had escaped the half-century unscathed. Some had complete dye fade, while others were badly scratched and damaged from poor handling.

The best candidates were digitized using an Arriscan film scanner. Hundreds of hours were spent cleaning, repairing, grading, and stabilizing every frame of the film using DaVinci Resolve (and other software). The audio was meticulously restored as well.

This digital restoration of Icarus preserves a nearly-lost gem and introduces it to a new generation of animation fans.

Project Details