The Mario movie is out! No no, not that Mario movie. A different Mario movie.
The history of Mario on film is spotty at best, a reputation not helped by the unintentional body horror and the perfect casting of Bob Hoskins. However, the very first Mario movie also happened to be one of the very first video game movies ever made (I say ‘one of’ due to Running Boy: Star Soldier’s Secret being released on the same day).
Super Mario Bros.: The Great Mission to Rescue Princess Peach! is an animated film released on July 20, 1986. The film was produced by Grouper Productions in conjunction with Nintendo and Shochiku-Fuji Company, with the latter also distributing the film. It was directed by Masami Hata and produced by Masakatsu Suzuki and Tsunemasa Hatano, with Shigeru Miyamoto also being credited in the creation of the film.
The Great Mission to Rescue Princess Peach! is very much a more faithful adaption of the video games than the 1993 live-action film, but its release was solely in VHS form in Japan, with Nintendo seemingly forgetting about it as time went on. Thankfully, the film has been available to watch in parts on YouTube for quite some time now.
Unfortunately, the film’s fragmented state and poor visual quality on YouTube made it a hard watch. This makes sense considering it’s a chopped-up VHS rip of a film from the mid-’80s. That has been the case until now, of course, thanks to a handful of Mario fans who managed to get their hands on a 16mm print of the film.
According to TechRaptor, video game translator and video game store owner Carnivol managed to get his hands on an original 16mm print of the film in 2016. This print is believed to be one of, if not the only surviving prints of this film in the world. He then worked with Femboy Films to restore the print, enlisting fellow fans Quazza and Nemu to remove dust, dirt, and scratches. Another two fans, Tanks and Nappasan, created a new audio capture to improve the audio quality. Finally, a new subtitle track was created, improving upon an existing translation by Nappasan and Bluesun.
To boil it down: this was a chunky collaborative effort by Mario fans who wanted to make The Great Mission To Rescue Princess Peach! look and sound as good as possible. That they’ve released it to the public, for free and for posterity, is pretty freakin’ tight if you ask me! The entire film is available on YouTube, and you can watch it below:
The film is also available to download from the Internet Archive, for those who would prefer to watch the film on the squarest TV they have. Yet another case of fans doing incredible work to bring old video game media back to life. If you’d like to support their work, you can also check out FemboyFilms’ Patreon.