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1986's Super Mario Bros. Movie Is Being Painstakingly Restored, Now In 4K

While unfinished, in its current state it still looks incredible compared to the VHS versions

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Super Mario Bros. 1986 animated film
Screenshot: Carnivol

A long time ago, in one of the first Total Recall features I ever wrote for this site, I covered The Great Mission to Save Princess Peach!, the first—and in many ways still the best—Nintendo movie ever made.

Here’s what I wrote at the time:

The plot of the film is pretty standard stuff. Two plumbers (who for some reason are working at a grocery store) get sucked into a video game world, starring just about every bad guy from the franchise you can think of, and have to save a Princess (and kick Bowser’s ass) while they’re in there.

Spoilers: they save the day. Fun fact: the movie also foreshadows perhaps Mario’s greatest ever boss encounter, as Mario 64's “grab Bowser by the tail” move actually makes its debut in Great Mission. It had decent animation, a nice “covers all bases” plot (in terms of getting all the game’s characters and locations in) and some pub-trivia-esque voice actors, including Mario being Sega Rally 2's narrator and Luigi being, awesomely, Telemachus from Ulysses 31.


Interestingly, though, I closed out that article with:

Despite being released at perhaps the peak of Mario-mania, featuring renowned voice actors and doing pretty well during its theatrical run in Japan (it even had its own extensive line of cash-in products), by 2012 the film may as well have never existed.

It was released once on VHS in Japan, and that was it. No international release. No DVD release. Nothing. Unless you want to pay a mint for a Japanese video cassette, in fact, the only way you’re going to be able to watch it at all is on YouTube.


And hey, whaddya know, Carnivol has done just that. Working for years on the project, and beginning with a couple of those VHS copies, they eventually got their hands on a 16mm theatrical version of the film, and have been chipping away at both restoring the original reel and upscaling the movie to 4K ever since.

This isn’t some little side project, either; Carnivol estimates that in total the efforts to obtain, scan and restore this movie have cost them in the ballpark of USD$20,000.

Below are the current (and unfinished) results of that project, a vastly superior version of the film than those previously available:

Compare that to the version I shared in 2012, which...well, looks like shit:

As beautiful as Carnivol’s work has turned out, though, it’s still incomplete, and in order to get the whole project to a more finalised state they’re in the process of handing the raw files and work over to someone who can hopefully finish the job.


The whole movie has been uploaded in the first video above, but if you want to watch the entire thing and understand what’s going on, you’ll need to know that it’s only got automatic subtitles, and in this case those are...not working great.

Image for article titled 1986's Super Mario Bros. Movie Is Being Painstakingly Restored, Now In 4K
Screenshot: Carnivol