This coming month is an excellent time to be an animation fan. Firstly, Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs will be released in the UK at the end of March. After its film festival appearances in Berlin and Glasgow, this Japanese tale of canine exclusion has been charming audiences wherever it plays. Still, if you can’t wait until then for Anderson’s latest, the BFI Southbank in London has programmed a mini-animation season – entitled Animation Grows Up.
Whiste Isle of Dogs was made in Britain at Three Mills Studios, where Anderson also created his masterly Roald Dahl stop-motion Fantastic Mr. Fox, this season is more about looking back to the late Seventies and early Eighties, when young talent emerged from animation courses to reinvent the form. Chief amongst them, of course, was Nick Park, one of the creative sparks at Bristol’s beloved Aardman Animations.
The BFI is offering a chance to see several of Park’s Wallace and Gromit shorts – A Grand Day Out, The Wrong Trousers and A Close Shave – in restored versions on the big screen. The 150-minute programme also features a handful of other Aardman shorts, including War’s Pig, Adam and War Story along with a must-see Q&A with Aardman co-founder Dave Sproxton, who recently produced Park’s Early Man.
On the edgier side of animation, there’s the Channel 4 series Crapston Villas, the stop-motion animated adult sitcom created by Sarah Ann Kennedy and Candy Guard that satirised inner-city life. Accompanying the showing will be a Q&A with Kennedy and Guard, who will also screen some of their early shorts and Pond Life, the animated sitcom about a moaning thirty-something named Dolly.
Also on offer, Martin Rosen’s seminal hand-drawn animation Watership Down, based on the Richard Adams novel about a group of rabbits travelling to safety across the English countryside. Made in 1978, it still retains its power; the sort of film that is quite capable of stirring emotions in the hardiest of hearts And if that doesn’t get you, there are also two chances to see Disney perennial tale of forest folk, Bambi. Make sure you bring the hankies.
Animation 2018: Animation Grows Up is at the BFI until 18 March. For more details, click here.
1. Still from Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr Fox.