Monday, November 16, 2009

Fantastic Mr Fox: Wes Anderson

The first of this year's London Film Festival and I shall give the official programme note for the films seen as well as any comments of my own. LFF: In his first animated feature, Wes Anderson proves the perfect filmmaker to bring Road Dahl's much-loved story to life. Mr and mrs Fox live an idyllic home life with their son Ash and visiting your nephew Kristofferson.
But, after 12 years, the bucolic existence proves too much for Mr Fox's wild animal instincts. Soon he slips back into his old ways as a sneaky chicken thief, and in doing so endangers not only his own belowed family, but the whole animal community.
Trapped underground with not enough food to go round, the animals band together to fight against the evil farmers Boggis, Bruce and Bean, who are determined to capture the audacious, fantastic Mr Fox at any cost. Anderson and co-writer Noah Baumbach have stuck closely to the spirit and events of the original, but have opened it out, adding new scenes and giving depth to a range of hugely engaging and heavily anthropomorphised characters, replete with foibles good and bad. The voice cast are exemplary, with a host of Anderson regulars including Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman and Owen Wilson featuring alongside British actors such as Michael Gambon and Brian Cox and some Anderson family and friends, Jarvis Cocker amonst them. Leading the pack of course and George Clooney and Meryl Streep as Mr and Mrs Fox, he roguish and debonair, her (sic) beautiful, wise and funny. Creating alternative universes is something this director has always excelled at, and his attention to detail finds great espression here. Using classic stop-motion animation gives the story a delightful home-made feel, and the autumnal palette adds a particular warmth. Anderson's stylistic choices are recognisable from his
earlier films, resulting in an animated film that feels uniquely entertaining and enjoyable. It succeeds in retaining the essance of Dahl's writing, which has enchanted audiences for over 40 years, but filtered through a very distinct and visionary sensibility.

MGP: Having never knowingly read any Roald Dahl, I have no idea which parts of the film are his and which are additions though this does not matter. Praise must be given to the studio in London which worked for some two years in making the film even though the feel of the film is naturally Anderson's. The early sequence sets the mood for the later stages though, as with most animated films, there is a strong element of farce in some scenes. There were a few scenes which seemed to be
'normal' animation, e.g. the cross-section scene under the three farms, which jarred a little. While the use of known actors to voice animations is commonplace, I wonder what this adds - Gambon, Cox and Murray were distinctly recognisable but the other leads less so. Is one expected to visualise George Clooner, for instance, in the leading role or do the filmmakers hope that the audience will subconsciously think this? Whether in the original or not, the theme of family loyalty which is strong in other Anderson films is definitely seen here though this is necessary to bring about a happy ending.

1 comment:

pppatty said...

Interesting approach to contrast the festival programme blurb with the actuality. As we know to our cost the former is too often overblown, but this film was, I thought, at least worthy of its opening night slot.