Thursday, March 11, 2021

RW408 - Wes Anderson Rewatch - Fantastic Mr. Fox


In this episode of The Wes ANDERSON Rewatch, Cory and Nathan promise to settle down and enjoy "Fantastic Mr. Fox."


Our Favourite Trivia:

Joe Roth and Revolution Studios bought the film rights to Fantastic Mr Fox in 2004. In 2006, Mark Mothersbaugh stated that he was working on the soundtrack. Wes Anderson signed on as director with Henry Selick, who worked with Anderson on The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, as animation director. Anderson stated that he signed on because Roald Dahl was one of his heroes.

Roald Dahl's "Fantastic Mr. Fox" was the first book writer, producer, and director Wes Anderson owned. His mother, Texas Ann Burroughs, bought it for him at the St. Francis book fair in Austin, Texas when he was about seven years old. Anderson has kept this same copy on his bookshelf ever since.

The original story was written at a dark time in Roald Dahl's life. He had already lost one of his five children to measles and witnessed another one suffer from water on the brain as the result of a car accident. It was only natural that he would be spurred on to write a tale portraying the father as a protector of the family.

The story the novel covers would amount to the second act of the film. Anderson added new scenes to serve for the film's beginning and end. The new scenes precede Mr. Fox's plan to steal from the three farmers and follow the farmers' bulldozing of the hill, beginning with the flooding of the tunnel. Selick left the project to work on the Neil Gaiman story Coraline in February 2006. He was replaced by Mark Gustafson. 20th Century Fox Animation became the project's home in October 2006 after Revolution folded.

In September 2007, Anderson announced voice work would begin. The director chose to record the voices outside rather than in a studio: "we went out in a forest, [...] went in an attic, [and] went in a stable. We went underground for some things. There was a great spontaneity in the recordings because of that." The voices were recorded before any animation was done.

During one of the outdoor dialogue recording sessions, a best take was almost ruined by the sound of a nearby boat. Open to randomness, writer, producer, and director Wes Anderson modified the scene in this movie to include an airplane flying through the shot. Anderson said, "I think it was better with the airplane than without. A flaw in the recording gave us a new idea."

Anderson said of the production design, "we want to use real trees and real sand, but it's all miniature." Great Missenden, where Roald Dahl lived, has a major influence on the film's look.

The film mixes several forms of animation but consists primarily of stop motion. Animation took place in London, on Stage C at 3 Mills Studio and the puppets were created by Mackinnon & Saunders, with Anderson directing the crew, many of whom animated Tim Burton's Corpse Bride. Selick, who kept in contact with Anderson, said the director would act out scenes while in Paris and send them to the animators via iPhone.

Originally, Cate Blanchett was to voice Mrs. Fox, but she left the role for undisclosed reasons.

This movie is composed of almost 56,000 shots.

Altogether, 535 puppets were made for this movie. Mr. Fox had seventeen different styles alone, and each of Mr. Fox's styles had to be done in six different sizes. He has 102 puppets alone.

Shot digitally using a Nikon D3, which offers a significantly higher resolution than even that of full high definition. It was also shot at a frame rate of twelve frames per second, rather than the more fluid twenty-four, so that viewers would notice the medium of stop-motion itself.

DIRECTOR CAMEO: As the voice of the real estate agent weasel.

In the original book, humans and animals never directly interacted with one another, so it was never clear if they could understand each other. Here, they clearly can, when Mr. Fox (George Clooney) asks Franklin Bean (Sir Michael Gambon) if he brought the boy, Bean replies, and clearly understands him.

In the months preceding the opening of this movie, controversy arose concerning the little time that Wes Anderson actually spent on-set, choosing to direct the animation via e-mail from his apartment in Paris. In an October 2009 Los Angeles Times article, cinematographer Tristan Oliver was quoted as saying, "I think he's a little O.C.D. Contact with people disturbs him. This way, he can spend an entire day locked inside an empty room with a computer. He's a bit like The Wizard of Oz. Behind the curtain." Informed of Oliver's discontent, Anderson said, "I would say that kind of crosses the line for what's appropriate for the director of photography to say behind the director's back while he's working on the movie. So, I don't even want to respond to it." On the Wes Anderson fan website "The Rushmore Academy" (named after Anderson's Rushmore (1998),) Oliver criticized the article's tone, stating that it made him out to be a villain: "Yes, working with Wes can be frustrating, but that is true of any director, and I've worked with a hundred who were more irritating and less motivated than Wes. So let's just lay to rest the ghost of this particular myth and oh, it would be nice if the death threats stopped too. Thanks."

What's Up Next?

Next week we discuss "Moonrise Kingdom"

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