From Aardman Animations, the studio that brought us Wallace & Gromit, and Chicken Run, comes Shaun The Sheep Movie. Based on the long-running television series, Shaun’s big-screen adventure finds the flock bored of the daily routine at Mossy Bottom farm. When his attempts at masterminding a day off go horribly wrong, he and his fellow sheep have to journey into the big city to find the amnesiac farmer and bring him back home, all the while avoiding an evil animal warden named A. Trumper. Shaun The Sheep is another hit from Aardman, following from their oscar-winning Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Whilst it won’t get the awards, it’s actually a much more impressive feature; a visual delight, both superficially and narratively.
As somebody who once had to painstakingly create a piece of stop motion animation during my college years (it was a lot of work for a frankly rubbish piece of filmmaking) it has always been the most interesting animation to watch in my opinion, due to the sheer (or should that be shear) amount of patience, dexterity and detail that goes into each frame of the final picture. The love and attention that has gone into producing Shaun The Sheep is obvious to see from beginning to end, especially during the scenes which take place in the big city that involve a remarkable amount of moving parts. It’s technically brilliant, but where the film really works is the visual way in which the story is told that owes a great debt to silent cinema.
Apart from the mumbles and grumbles of the leading human characters, there’s no dialogue at all and despite boasting a charming soundtrack, the film could easily work with no sound at all. The story telling and humour, of which there is a great deal, all come from sight gags and well constructed ‘sketches’ that focus on the image, as opposed to speech. There’s one scene in particularly where the film makers seem to address the influence of silent cinema, where the flock of sheep enter a fancy restaurant disguised as humans. When they are discovered and chaos ensues, the sequence is accompanied by diegetic music from the restaurant’s piano player; a melody that sounds straight out of a Chaplin or Keaton film.
The gags themselves cover a wide spectrum of slapstick, cultural references and a self-aware, Muppet-type of anarchy. It’s consistently funny and extremely silly, but in a good way (any film which has a dog attempt surgery is a winner for me). Comedy aside though, it has a surprising amount of sentiment that warmed the heart and almost brought a tear to my eye. Shaun The Sheep Movie is bright, colourful and silly family fun that further cements the genius of Aardman. A charming, delightful and awe-inspiring piece of animation that will work for both adults and children alike.
Image credit to http://www.finalreel.co.uk