Friday, June 02, 2006

Wallace and Gromit

I saw the first Wallace and Gromit[^] short 'Claymation' movie at the Valhalla Cinema, Northcote, Melbourne, sometime around 1991 at a festival of short movies. The other movies tried valiantly but 'A Grand Day out' beat em all by more than a fair margin! Who could resist the idea of an oven on the moon skiing down one hill and up the next?

When 'The Wrong Trousers' came out in 1993 and appeared on the Valhalla calender in early 1994 I had to be there! We took along a few friends, Peta and I. I'm not sure what they expected but I remember Keith laughing himself silly at the scene where Gromit is inside the cardboard box, cuts a couple of eyeholes so he can see what's going on and, when the camera pulls back to reveal the box, there's a picture of a dog on the side of the carton and the eyeholes are in exactly the right places.

Maybe you have to see a Wallace and Gromit movie to truly appreciate it.

Tonight I treated myself to a rental of Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit[^].

It's a five day rental and this is day one; I'll be watching it at least once more and probably more than that. I say that in order to reinforce that this is a first impression.

How many movies can you parody and expect to get away with it?

The soundtrack reminded me greatly of 'The Lord of the Rings' though they managed to weave Holst's 'The Planets' and Elgars First Symphony into it. King Kong throughout the climax and a bunch of references to 'A Close Shave'. Remember those scenes from the original 'The Italian Job' with the minis driving through the sewer system in Milan? Yep, that's there too :-) There were one or two other movies I picked at the time that escape my recollection; I'm getting old :-)

I love the attention to detail in these movies. There's a scene where one of the characters is drinking a cup of tea; she pours the tea into a translucent bone china cup. Then a cut to an 'over the shoulder' shot of the same character drinking from the cup. You can see the darkness where the tea would be if it were a real actor. Given that this is frame by frame animation of real objects it's really amazing to see.

A lesser director might have opted for a non-translucent tea cup and no one would have been any the wiser. That Nick Park went for bone china and the need for that telltale darkness says volumes. But then again, a lesser director could not have created such a wonderful set of movies in the first place!

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