Asked to explain the Aardman Animations sensibility, asked if he could put a finger on the house style of the idiosyncratic little studio he co-founded in England 40 years ago,
Yes, they do.
How to explain to an American audience a British
Subtract the political subtext of Python, and it's short leap to the "Wallace & Gromit" shorts and cinephile homage of "Chicken Run." Aardman's latest movie,
"The camera here is looking past the cage, past Captain and toward Darwin. It's deep (focus) shot."
"Darwin is trying to capture Dodo, Pirate Captain's bird. Captain is angry with Darwin, and puzzled and suspicious. He doesn't know what's coming, then his suspicions are confirmed by this cage, which, if you look closely, has the shape of a dodo on it and dramatizes that Dodo is going to be captured."
"I relate to Pirate Captain a lot, actually. He is the boss of this crew of misfits, just as I was the director of this crew of misfits. I acted out a lot of the film through him. In the early days of production, before Hugh Grant came on board to do the voice, I did the voice so we had some working sketches to use. I would act it out to show how I want the line performed physically, the cadence of the line and the gestures. In this scene, Captain is saying, 'Well, come on, explain yourself.' He is actually saying the 'well' of 'well, go on.' The shape of the mouth is more derived from Hugh's delivery."
"The guy there is Ian Whitlock, and he is literally animating a character. Ian is currently working in San Francisco on the new film from (
"This is the Tower of London. The real Tower is an ancient castle. Our Tower includes an elevator, which does not exist, or rather didn't during Queen Victoria's time. The set is about 10 feet square. It's a symmetrical set. There is a square of pillars in the middle. The shape of (the room) is octagonal, and there is a large chandelier hanging above it though you can't see that in this picture. It's also a very heavy set. The stonework — which isn't stone, of course — is plaster but weighs a ton. To get the camera in there, you eventually tear away the pillars. You start with this elaborate set and, in the course of filming, murder it."
"That's a youthful Darwin, and kind of a caricature, though there is a painting of him at that age, and he does look like that. We give him a hard time in the movie. I am personally very respectful of Darwin, but you wouldn't think it. Creationists will love this movie! The script always had him written as hapless, weak, ineffective, unlucky, quite ridiculous. We thought, 'Let's just milk that.' He has rather poor morals. He is kind of a schemer. He's lousy with women. Basically, we made a shameless mockery of a very important man."
"He's Darwin's monkey butler. He is a chimpanzee, but they call him a monkey, without any respect. Darwin actually refers to him a man-panzeee. He doesn't speak, just like Gromit doesn't speak. He's a little Gromit-like. He's much more knowing than his master. In this very scene, he does a lot of sarcastic eye-rolling. Which was also Gromit's preferred mode of expression. He's also, like Gromit, smarter than everyone else."
The Tiny Armor