Journey to the stars

An interview with British filmmaker John Wilson.

Last year's highly successful Jodie Foster-Matthew McConaughey movie Contact, which suggests that humans are not alone in the cosmos, has evoked renewed interest in space exploration. Among those fascinated by this new Hollywood venture is John D. Wilson, an English filmmaker whose large-screen production Journey to the Stars was the first astronomically accurate film on space, and was seen by over seven million visitors to the World's Fair in Seattle in 1962.

Mr. Wilson makes animated cartoon films for a living. He studied at Harrow Art School and at the Royal College of Art in London before taking a job as an animator with the J. Arthur Rank Organization. In 1950, he crossed the Atlantic to join Walt Disney Productions in Hollywood, working as an assistant animator, designer, and "story-man" on such movies as Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, and the Academy Award-winning Toot, Whistle, Plunk, and Boom.

After his association with Walt Disney, Mr. Wilson formed his own film company, Fine Arts Productions. One of its first projects was the first prime-time animated musical for television, Petrouchka, for which composer Igor Stravinsky adapted and conducted his own score.

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