Archive for Aardman

The Sunday Intertitle: Beware of Chimps Bearing Intertitles

Posted in FILM, Science with tags , , , on May 26, 2019 by dcairns

THE PIRATES! IN AN ADVENTURE WITH SCIENTISTS!, from Aardman and director Phil Peter Lord, is really VERY good, and ought to be counted as a key film in the wondrous renaissance of Hugh Grant. One might think that playing an ebullient pirate captain would be an easy ask for anyone who’s studied their Robert Newton, but it’s quite a departure from the typical Grant approach up to that time: there’s not a trace of diffidence about this guy. He BOOMS!

But we’re here today to look at intertitles, which in this movie are actually carry-on props, wielded by Charles Darwin’s trained chimpanzee valet, Mr. Bobo.

This is, I think, a unique use of the intertitular form, and the art of animation enhances it, since Bobo is able to swap cards with superhuman supersimian speed, which helps the comedy timing. And the “naturalistic” justification is hilarious, since Mr. Bobo somehow magically has a card for every occasion.

The Invaders

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , on June 14, 2016 by dcairns


Like something from a fifties B-movie, the invaders walk the streets of the Big City, cunningly disguised as humans. But they are sheeple, for this is SHAUN THE SHEEP – THE MOVIE.

Really liked this. Particularly impressive was the story’s avoidance of dialogue, with the animals using humanimal baas and barks, the humans communicated in articulated growls, the way they might sound to an animal. The movie references are fun too. Used fairly sparingly, and always with an eye to making it work for both kids and adults. Having a bus conductor look like Blakey from On The Buses is a harmless reference for adults of a certain age, and after all he had to look like something. Here’s one scene that’s very rich in movieness ~


Shaun has been “contained” by a modern version of the old dogcatcher villain figure, and taken to the Animal Containment Centre, which is portrayed like a prison in a Hollywood movie (harking back to Aardman Animation’s first feature CHICKEN RUN). Good dramatic sheep’s-eye view — the shadows are a nice touch too. Strictly speaking, to get a symmetrical effect, the filmmakers have taken the viewpoint of an empty space between Shaun’s head and the containment guy’s knee, but it’s what works visually.


This overhead ceiling track, recalling TAXI DRIVER, is included just for added impact — the pattern of light and shadow from the doorway seems to call for it. Then we get a series of trackpasts, simulating the prisoner’s viewpoint, of the various cellmates. SILENCE OF THE LAMBS is an obvious forebear here, but the individual convicts are also movie archetypes.


The tough guy. This always makes me think of the hissing con in RAISING ARIZONA, but that in itself was probably a reference to something else, even if just to our shared history of prison movie watching. For a little kid watching this movie, that history doesn’t exist — yet — but the moment still fully justifies itself as added suspense to SHaun’s terrible situation.


Working out. A bone makes a perfect dumbbell. Aardman’s use of props, always a key trademark of strong visual comedy, is extremely inventive, both ludicrous and logical. The choice of a poodle for this touch guy is inspired.


Hannibal Lector and his Collar of Shame. Oriental cats have a history of diabolical evil in the movies, going back to LADY AND THE TRAMP.


And somebody always has to play the harmonica. But how to make this reference amusing in its own right? Well, a goldfish playing a wind instrument is always going to be amusing, isn’t it?