I LOVE Aardman Animations. My dad brought my brother and I up on Wallace and Gromit, and we watch Robbie the Reindeer’s “Hooves of Fire” each Christmas.
While attending the Manchester Animation Festival 2016 this last week there were a wide array of short films and student films, but my favourite experience by far was heading to the little over an hour and a half special that ran on the first day displaying over 40 years of Aardman Animation’s work.
The event was instead a screening of the more iconic pieces in the studio’s history. The 19 films were not shown in a chronological order and were instead chosen to show multiple different eras of the team’s styles. The classic Claymation was there in shorts like Adam or Creature Comforts, but they also featured their more recent CGI films’ style with shorts like Blind Date or Winter Trees.
— MAF (@mcranimation) November 10, 2016
Aardman Animations began in 1972 as a project between students Peter Lord and David Sproxton, and later Nick Park in 1985. The team’s style of animating their clay puppets into real people through stop motion was the iconic start to their work as a studio. With Nick Park’s addition to the team, they produced A Grand Day Out the first of the Wallace and Gromit films. Wallace and Gromit would go on to be Aardman’s first half hour film in The Wrong Trousers in 1993. This was incredibly successful, winning the studio over 30 awards and even earning Nick Park an Oscar.
Aardman’s first feature length film Chicken Run came in 2000, and it was a monumental success for the studio. Co-produced with DreamWorks, Chicken Run is the highest grossing stop motion animation of all time, earning $224,834,564 after being made on a budget of 45 million. The film received a host of awards and nominations from Annie Awards to BAFTA’s. It remains a highly acclaimed film with high ratings on rotten tomatoes and metacritic alike.
Wallace and Gromit’s first feature length film came in 2005 in the form of Curse of the Were-Rabbit. A continuation of the short films the team had produced, Curse of the Were-Rabbit would become the second highest grossing stop motion film of all time. It was however even more critically acclaimed than chicken run before it, becoming the only stop motion animated film to ever win an academy award. Followed by the short film A Matter of Loaf and Death in 2008, every single Wallace and Gromit film has won a BAFTA award and at the least been nominated for an Oscar.
Following the release of A Matter of Loaf and Death, Aardman would not produce another feature length film until 2011 had brought about The Pirates! – In An Adventure With Scientists. Since then they have worked on several series of their successful TV series Shaun the Sheep and released a film for the franchise in 2015 with distribution and production company StudioCanal, who Aardman will continue to work with, with an upcoming film in 2018.
Aardman Studio’s unique style has garnered them a legacy and a large fan base, and the team there shows no sign of slowing down. I look forward to what they do from here.
By Thomas Taylor