the net guide for creative
DOWSE Guide to the
by Tony Lee editor of
Chicken Run: Hatching The Movie
Boxtree, 191 pages hardcover £20.00
review by Ian Shutter
This is certainly one of the slicker 'making-of' books I have seen. The film itself
was created, produced (with David Sproxton) and directed by Nick Park and Peter Lord,
yet the screenplay is credited to Karey Kirkpatrick. Brian Sibley assembles a wealth
of visual material here, his text providing much more than just captions to pictures,
character sketches and production diary entries.
It reveals the development of Aardman's capabilities and achievements from the
acclaimed, Oscar-winning Wallace and Gromit shorts, to this - their first feature-length
project. We are guided from Park's early influences - Heath Robinson inventions,
British eccentricity - to the inevitable decision to compete with mighty Disney in
the arena of family cinema. Park reveals he actually worked in a slaughterhouse and
packing plant for frozen chickens as a student, and it's clear the inspiration for
this film's darker aspects stems from memory and the drawings he did at that time.
American writer Kirkpatrick was Aardman's cleverest recruitment. This kept US
mogul Jake Eberts happy, and at least Kirkpatrick had experience of Disney's working
practices, even if joining a distinctly English company was an unusual step. Sibley's
account of the pre-production stage closes with a lavish selection of storyboards.
Voice casting of the chicken escapees was obviously crucial. Mel Gibson stars
as Rocky the rooster, Julia Sawalha plays Ginger, and there's first class support from
the likes of Jane Horrocks, Miranda Richardson, Tony Haygarth, Imelda Staunton, Phil
Daniels and Timothy Spall. Visits to the Aardman workshops result in several pages of
photos depicting progress on the various character puppets, and a backstage tour at
Aztec West studios finds builders constructing the impressively detailed miniature
sets, noting how the Tweedy's farmhouse is lit to resemble Norman Bates place in Psycho!
The scaled down landscapes used for long shots of Tweedy's Poultry Products, and
the mindboggling complexity of the beautifully designed-to-be-ugly chicken pie making
machine, are sure to help readers appreciate the sheer hard work that goes into an enterprise
such as this. But, whether you have seen Chicken Run yet, or not, this book remains
a treasure of background information and a fine souvenir of a stylish, entertaining,
and extremely funny adventure.
to Movies on Dowse index.
dowse your start page
- Search the
- Get your free