Sunday, February 26, 2006


The mixing of live action and animation in WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT? (1988) was a sea change for animated films. Soon, computer technology was the "new toy" for animation. Films using hand drawings, stop motion, and clay models (claymation) began to fade from the scene as studios closed animation departments, bought computers, software, and hired technocrats.

For the past decade computer generated animation has ruled the animation business. This year, none of the three nominated animated feature films depend upon computer generation. In some cases there may be some computer assistance, but the basic art forms are preserved.

HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE (Hauru no Ugoku Shiro, Japan) - This is a special animated feature in today's movie business. It involved thousands of hand-drawn frames, the type of animation Walt Disney pioneered. The Disney Company no longer uses the technique, has shutdown the division, and fired the artistic animators who were masters of the art form.

Disney holds the world-wide (except Asia) theatrical and Video / DVD distribution rights to all language versions of HOWL'S, including English. The production was directed by Hayao Miyazaki, and accomplished at Studio Ghibli Miyazaki, Tokyo. A former Disney executive, Stephen Alpert, is now senior vice-president of Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli, and his mission is to keep the original art form alive with a little help from his former employer.

PLOT: When a less than confident young woman is cursed with an old body by a spiteful witch, her only chance of breaking the spell lies with a self-indulgent, yet insecure, young wizard and his companions who share his home that walks on legs.

TIM BURTON'S CORPSE BRIDE - This is a stop-motion animated feature film, directed by Mike Johnson, considered an expert in stop-motion animation. PLOT: When a shy groom practices his wedding vows in the inadvertent presence of a deceased young woman, she rises from the grave assuming he has married her.

WALLACE & GROMIT IN THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT - This hand-crafted clay animated feature film from DreamWorks SKG, directed by Nick Parks, received the top Annie Award at this year's International Animation Awards. PLOT: Wallace, a cheese-loving inventor, voiced by Peter Sallis, and his loyal dog Gromit set out to discover the mystery behind the garden sabotage that plagues their village and threatens the annual giant vegetable growing contest.

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