Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Fantastic Mr Fox

Director: Wes Anderson
Editor: Andrew Weisblum
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: 2009
Running Time: 87 Minutes

Adapted from Roald Dahl's book of the same name, Fantastic Mr Fox is a quirky, funny and brilliant stop animation. The plot is as follows:
It is the story of one Mr. Fox and his wild-ways of hen heckling, turkey taking and cider sipping, nocturnal, instinctive adventures. He has to put his wild days behind him and do what fathers do best: be responsible. He is too rebellious. He is too wild. He is going to try "just one more raid" on the three nastiest, meanest farmers that are Boggis, Bunce and Bean. It is a tale of crossing the line of family responsibilities and midnight adventure and the friendships and awakenings of this country life that is inhabited by Fantastic Mr. Fox and his friends.'1

The film has an all star cast of voice actors including George Clooney as Mr Fox, Meryl Streep as Mrs Fox, Owen Wilson as Coach Skip and Willem Dafoe as Rat. These famous actors really add to the character's personality, for example George Clooney's voice adds the suave charisma that is needed to portray the sly Mr Fox. 'The humour is often dry, even ironic, while the look of the film- all reds and browns and at once convincingly realistic and ultra absurd-is perhaps its greatest strength.'2
Wes Anderson has visually tried to make this stop animation look like it has jumped off of the page. The set design and colour palette is absolutely stunning, each scene looks like you could frame it and hang it up on your wall. It is a beautiful film right down to the carefully composed, symmetrical framing, the almost theatrical depth of field, and the colourful, choreographed movements.

Shot digitally using a Nikon D3, which offers a significantly higher resolution than even that of full High Definition. It was also shot at a frame rate of 12 frames per second, rather than the more fluid 24, so that viewers would notice the medium of stop-motion itself. Making a stop animation is a very pain staking process as Andy Biddle, an animator for the film, says:
'Any animated film is quite painstaking. If you ask an animator how much footage they do in a day, it depends on the production, but for Fantastic Mr Fox, it was about 4 seconds of footage a day. The style that Wes[Anderson] wanted was quite fast and character-based action. It was quite involved.'4

The puppets themselves are gorgeously made, and the individual hairs on each of the animals shows the pain staking amount of work that went into making each puppet. 'The human characters' hair was actual human hair collected from studio employees at MacKinnon & Saunders, the company that manufactured the puppets for the film.'3 And the animal hair was collected from goats, due to how well it dyes, the strength it has and how good it looks when lit.In the end there were 100 people working on making the puppets and eventually about 530 puppets were made. The reason for so many puppets were that they made the puppets to 6 different scale, some for up close and others to interact with the humans.

Nobody can deny that Wes Anderson took on a huge task here, turning a much loved childrens book into a full length stop animation. From the frequent laughter from the cinema, I think it has definitely been a success, appealing to adults and children alike. He hasn't ruined the original and has created something that is beautiful and lovable.

Usual links:
Interview with the animators


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