Feature by: Jack Foley
IT'S taken five long years for Nick Park, Steve Box and the team
at Aardman Animation to bring Wallace & Gromit: The Curse
of the Were-Rabbit to the big screen but the wait has been worth
In America, the film shot straight to the number one spot with
a healthy $16.1 million weekend take, while critics in the UK
have been lining up to heap praise on it.
And deservedly so, for The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is one of
the most lively and inventive family films this side of Pixar!
For the talented Park and Box, however, a feature film wasn't
as inevitable as some have suggested.
"Part of the reason we did Chicken Run first was because
I was naturally cautious – what works as a short film format
often works because it’s short," explained Nick.
"There were certain things that worked because it was a
short. We were really waiting for the right idea to come along,
that had the size and scope for character development as well.
And that turned out to be vegetables!"
The ensuing adventure finds Wallace and Gromit attempting to
protect their neighbourhood and its vegetables from a mythical
were-rabbit and draws on plenty of film references for laughs.
But it also retains a distinctly British flavour, as well as
some risque humour that pays homage to the heyday of English comedy.
"Nick and I share such a love of cinema, especially British
movies, even including the old Carry On films," explained
Steve, at a recent press conference. "So there’s a
touch of that in the new characters, and those sort of jokes just
started to creep in really."
As careful as Nick and Steve had to be to keep things family-friendly
and not too risque, their biggest challenge came in keeping the
whole film entertaining for its longer running time.
"That was perhaps the biggest challenge, to go from short
films to the big screen," adds Nick. "How to tell a
story, how to keep it entertaining and compelling for the whole
80 minutes, especially as it’s only worked in a short format.
"So how did we do that? By constantly
looking at it a hundred times a day. Brainstorming, trying to
come up with new gags and better ways of telling the story."
Adds Steve: "The best advice we had, from people like Jeffrey
Katzenburg at Dreamworks, was to make sure we kept Gromit at the
centre of everything, so the film was from Gromit’s point
"If we ever got into trouble, we made sure Gromit was in
there so you experienced the film through his eyes."
So having conquered both TV and film with their plasticine creations,
will Nick and Steve be taking a break from Wallace and Gromit,
or are they constantly still inventing new scenarios for them
that may be put to use in their everyday lives?
"Yes, and I have a whole mechanism that slides me down to
my car and takes me to work," laughs Nick, sensing the irony.
"But seriously, it hasn’t got that involved. I have
a lot of the merchandise around the house, which has been called
the Wallace Collection.
"But I’m trying not to collect it any more. It was
a thrill for the first five years to have your own stuff on the
shelves in the shops. But now the novelty’s worn off quite
"And I don’t wear tanktops. It [Wallace and Gromit]
has taken over in the sense that they were characters that were
created as a silly idea at college and now we are seeing them
in the shops - even in the cheap basket at Sainsbury’s along
with the Best of Sooty!
"But I can’t help but think of new ideas for Wallace
and Gromit. Steve and I are always thinking of things. They’re
like our own children.
"You know, they have their own life now. Whatever idea you
have, you can put Wallace and Gromt in that idea and they’ll
bring their own absurdity and their own logic to it.
"It’s like something I do in my spare time now, think
of Wallace and Gromit ideas."
So another film is a definite possibility?
"I don’t see why not," Nick concludes, to the
obvious delight of film fans everywhere.
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Read the full Steve Box
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