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A Brief Biography of George Pal

In the annals of Hollywood, George Pal will always be remembered as a titan. a brilliant visionary who profoundly shaped the art of motion pictures. As an animator, Pal was a pioneer of stop-action animation and a peer of Walt Disney and Walter Lantz. In the 50’s. as a producer and director of live-action films, he brought to the screen such classics as H.G. Wells' "The War of the Worlds" and "The Time Machine." Pal's cinematic legacy can be traced today in the works of George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Gene Roddenberry.

George Pal was born into a Hungarian theatrical family. Despising the stage, Pal's interest quickly turned to film and animation. But the rising tide of Nazi Germany pushed Pal to move to Holland. where he created his revolutionary short, "Ship of the Ether." As World War II loomed on the horizon, Pal realized an old dream and headed to the U.S. for Hollywood.

It was there that Pal was to profoundly influence the movie industry and shape the imaginations of a later generation of filmmakers. Working at Paramount, Pal applied his experience in animation to create a beautiful series of musical short subjects. "George Pal's Puppetoons" utilized meticulously carved wooden puppets and stop-action photography to create three-dimensional animation the likes of which had never been seen before. Puppets gracefully twirl and swoop in a ballroom to the strains of a Strauss waltz. The Puppetoons earned Pal an Academy Award - the first of five in his career.

In the '50s Pal turned to live-action films as a producer (as did his friend Walt Disney). It was in this decade that Pal's work was to reach its mature power. His first film. "Destination Moon," was a 'futuristic documentary' chronicling man's exploration of Earth's nearest neighbor.

As veteran director Robert Wise observes in the documentary, "’Destination Moon’" was a major turning point in film history."

Pal turned out hit after hit in this productive decade. "Destination Moon" was followed by the frightening vision of "The War of the Worlds" and "The Time Machine." But there was a warm and gentle side to this artist as well. Today Pal is also honored for the beautiful and charming fantasies "Tom Thumb," "The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm," and "7 Faces of Dr. Lao."

It is this period that provides the scope of "The Fantasy Film Worlds Of George Pal." The film gains depth through the portrait of a sensitive artist - a picture of a man whose creative talents never ran roughshod over his humanity. "Fantasy Worlds" is a loving tribute to one of Hollywood's master filmmakers.

For more about George Pal and his work be sure to check out the Legacy and ObFacts pages.

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