By Fred Topel | Image property of 20th Century Fox
The Fantastic Mr. Fox
Wes Anderson didnít just enter the animation territory when he made The Fantastic Mr. Fox. Doing a kids movie, there’s the potential that this could be a perennial that plays in houses forever on DVD.
W.A. Animates Fantastic Mr. Fox
“That’s the kind of thing you hope can happen but it’s not really something that is occurring to me while we’re making the film,” Anderson said. “The process of making the movie, like other movies, is how are we going to address this problem and how can we make this part better and do we have any new ideas for this one here. It’s always just sort of step by step and I find myself often saying, ‘Are people going to understand this? Is this clear?’ Not so much, ‘Will this group of people like it versus this group?’”
Based on Roald Dahl’s book, Anderson animates Mr. Fox in stop motion, with the voice of George Clooney. His state of the art puppet had minutely articulated faces to express Fox’s emotion. By contrast, Aardman claymation just replaces the mouth for each expression.
“Yeah, and theirs are plasticine. Most of their puppets or maybe all of them. Most of their puppets. The Were-rabbit I think is maybe a different kind of puppet. Yeah, they do a lot of mouth and eye removals and whole face replacement. We have a little bit of that kind of stuff. We had some eyes that we switch out and some teeth that we switched out but this is a different kind. This is more in the vein of Corpse Bride although it’s different materials but it’s the same sort of thing where there’s a skeleton with joints and the plasticine is completely adjustable. Plus they used replacement heads and parts of faces and things like that.”
Mr. Fox gets his family in trouble when he returns to a life of crime, robbing farms. This plays out in the film even more intensely than the book. “Well, I felt like in the book he was not ideal because he was the one who got them in trouble in the first place. In the book, he’s a bit vain and he gets in trouble with his community. They’re angry at him because he’s causing the problem. We expanded on that. I think he’s maybe more flawed in the movie than he is in the book.”
The film also condenses the Fox family from four children, to one distinct song. “In the book, they don’t really have individual identities, his children, and we made a story of his son, his visiting cousin. That was partly, I guess we just felt like for a movie it was better, rather than having this whole group to just focus on one personality and to develop a story for him. But it does end up being, that just adds to him being more flawed.”
The Fantastic Mr. Fox opens to theaters on November 13th.