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Screening Room: Animation & Aardman

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Mark Kermode | 14:40 UK time, Thursday, 19 November 2009

Is animation the future and if so does that mean all of it? How about stop motion and the hand-drawn variety? Here are a couple of thoughts that didn't make it into this week's Culture Show Screening Room Animation Special and, as always, let me and Simon Mayo know what you think using the facilities below...

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  • Comment number 1.

    Even though half of the film doesnt make sense in English translation Akira is my all time favourite animation...All the visuals are truly breathtaking and disturbing at the same time

  • Comment number 2.

    As long as you engage me with good characters and story, I don't care what style of animation you use.

    My daughter (10) is currently infatuated with Miyazaki, Howls moving castle, Spirited away and Totoro especially.

  • Comment number 3.

    I enjoyed and was disturbed by the Ralph Bakshi version of Lord Of The Rings when I was about 9 or 10. The film was made using a technique called roterscoping which involved drawing over live action footage. I seem to remember only half the story was made, any idea what happened to the other half?

  • Comment number 4.

    Favourite: Lion King for reasons of childhood and being a part of my growing up, and essentially for introducing me to the delights of Shakespeare.
    Least favourite: Shark Tale, a very bad animation clearly aimed at kids but has jokes about films like Goodfellas which would fly straight over the top of kid's heads and they weren't even funny in the first place.

  • Comment number 5.

    Well, my best animated film according to my IMDb votes is a three way tie between: Toy Story and Toy Story 2 and Bambi.

    Toy Story and it's sequel are just fun, witty and touching films and Bambi is my fave coming-of-age tale that's more than just cutesy animals(witness a scene where a bird slowly goes mad as a hunter lurks somewhere near or when the three pals are 'Twitterpated').

    Ones that got 9s from me were WALL.E(intrigiung dystopian film) and Spirited Away(creative and bizarre).
    Other non-feature films that also got 9 were: The Peter and the Wolf stop-mo is magic and the Avatar: The Last Airbender cartoon is hands down one of the best character driven story arc cartoons I've seen from this decade.


    A join tie for: Treasure Planet and Thumbelina(94). The former thought putting Treasure Island IN SPACE was a good idea, and the latter has a heroine that doesn't do much apart from whinge, has Latin stereotypes with the toads, Disney-rip off character design and songs and basically just misses the main point of Andersen's tale - that she learns to survive by herself in a world that is dangerous for the very tiny and is rewarded for her perserverance and kindness by having her happy ending.

    Overlooked animated films that were very good: 5 Centimeters Per Second, Pom Poko, Grave of Fireflies, Whisper of the Heart, Only Yesterday, Paprika, Lupin III Castle of Caligostro, The Brave Little Toaster, Flight of Dragons, The Last Unicorn, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, The Plague Dogs, The Prince of Egypt, The Secret of NIMH, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Watership Down and When The Wind Blows.

    Yes, I'm quite a fan of Japanese animation.

  • Comment number 6.

    my most watched animated film as a child was don bluth's 1982 "the secret of nimh". aside from it being one of thoughs brilliant familiy films that refuses to either look down on children or play up to adults, the design and quality of the animation is outstanding. made as a direct reation to the increase in corner cutting animation techniques of the time, it is both labouriously and innovatively crafted. with several sequences which feature backlit handpainted cells (perticually one involving some moving electrified flowers) having permanently etched themselves into my memory.

  • Comment number 7.

    Favorites:Les triplettes de Belleville(simply amazing),Lion king,Wallace and Gromit series,Naruto series!
    Least favorites:Shark tale,Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.

  • Comment number 8.

    Like fortunesfool73 my daughter(5)also loves all the Ghibli movies and gets thoroughly board during most by numbers digimation nonesense. People can rave on as much as they like about Pixar being innovative in the way they just make movies aimed at everybody,so both children and adults can relate to it on different levels. Ghibli have been doing this since the mid 80's.Laputa castle in the sky is one of the most touching movies of all time and its a crime that Hayao Miyazaki and Ghibli dont seem to get the same respect, plaudits and press that Pixar and John Lasseter get.

  • Comment number 9.

    I'm glad to hear you like Miyazaki's films, they are fantastic as are the others from Studio Ghibli, I think my favourite is Isao Takahata's "Grave of the Fireflies" although I can't watch it too often as it always reduces me to a sobbing wreck as it is so sad. Other Japanese animations I've enjoyed are "Ghost in the Shell" and "Perfect Blue", two films that show that it is possible to make quality animation which is neither aimed at children nor overly crude. Other animation for adults I've enjoyed recently includes "Waltz with Bashir" and "Persepolis".

    Related to a previous Culture Show item I thought Coroline was great although watching the 3D version on DVD meant wearing red/green classes which wasn't easy for a glasses wearer... they did have a creepy effect on the films colours though.

  • Comment number 10.

    Favourite animation: Akira (prenounced AKI-DA).
    An outstanding film that was based on Katsuhiro Otomo amazing mangas.Although things in the manga were slightly missed in the anime such as Akira being an important solid character in the story (series 3 to 6) rather in the film his appearance was of "gostly and spirit" form.As with many comics,books adapted into films you start to see a disaperance of many characters (obviously due to time limits and size of the story),so we fail to see more of an importance from such characters as Kei's tough auntie Chiyoko,Joker seen in the the bike gang scene his apperarance in the manga is much stronger,the more political views and mystery surrounding Akira and the overal effects and disavantages of the drugs.
    But the Artwook/animation and edited story of this film has done brilliant justice to the manga series with a glorious attention to detail that pulled me in instantly.
    I film that started my love of animation/comics and what overal played a massive part in my interests in doing comic art.

    Another film that I like was Watership down,based on Richard Adams book.I liked the general darkness of the film and the edgy and uncomfortable aspect of the story.

    But overal I have a massive fond'ness with "traditional" animes than CGI based films.For one they have an more human nature about them ie a connection and two they (overal) have more depth and solidness in ways I dont think CGI will ever capture becuase it isnt inoccent and has very little charm.
    Which also brings me onto to CGI based films to Model based films.
    Although the creativity is endless with CGI it does bore me slightly with the fact that producers,directors and so forth are making films purely on the basis of how "cool" they look and "flashy" they are to that of actually making a good SOLID script that uses these CGI elements productivly rather than just prostituting them.

    Can you imagine how different Alien,never ending story or The Exorcist would look in this CGI industry.
    (abit a rant I must admit..sorry)

  • Comment number 11.

    Tweek - Perfect Blue is one heck of a psychological thriller! Parts of it were like Memento I thought. I was very freaked out in parts.

    I'm currently watching Tokyo Godfathers.

    Related to Japanese animation again, if you're a fellow fan I recommend those ones mentioned in my list of 'overlooked animated films' in my original post.

    5 Centimeters Per Second is a combo of three romantic shorts with beautiful animation and compelling characters.
    The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a funny Groundhog Day teen story that's funny and heartfelt.
    Paprika is a confusing and imaginative sci-fi that needs repeated watches to comprehend it all.
    Only Yesterday is a nostalgic look back on a woman's childhood.
    Lupin(pronounced Rupan)III and the Castle of Cagliostro is a fun, witty and thrilling adventure.

    I could go on :)

  • Comment number 12.

    My hands down favourite animator is Jan Svankmajer, ever since I saw Alice late at night, after the pub, and it scared the bejesus out of me! I then tracked down some of his shorts and remembered seeing some of them when I was very young, when they also scared me stupid.
    I love the way he brings such strange objects to life and his work with clay is amazing.

  • Comment number 13.

    Watership down is one of those films that is very different when you watch it as an adult. I remembered it as this whimsical tale of bunnies on a impossible journey that also has a pigeon that swears (great when you are 6). Then you grow up and its some kind of bunny genocide containing characters such as "General woundwort" and the bunny of death. Proof that just beacause its a PG and animated does not mean its for children.

    great film though and lets face it John Hurts voice is amazing he could make "last house on the left:the audio book" sound nice.

  • Comment number 14.

    I have to give Fanal Fantasy The Spiret within some credit. The first time I was the film I hated it thinking that it was overblown tosh. But on second, third and forth viewing of the film I actually like the film. The story is silly but no more so than Akira, I think the animation works well and the film has dated that badly. Also it maybe annimated but the ship, set and creature design is amazing. The film is way under rated.

  • Comment number 15.

    Both "When the Wind Blows" and "Plague Dogs".

    Never really liked the Aardman stuff.

  • Comment number 16.

    best- watership down.

  • Comment number 17.

    Saying Akira is almost arbitrary to mention (as is Ghost in a Shell) as an anime'fan, however it's been a long time since I actually watched it, though have seen it a good ten or so times.

    Anything by Miyazaki or studio Ghibli is gold, or near enough, I say this with the authority of someone who has been a fan far before the likes of 'Spirited Away' and 'Howls Moving Castle'.

    One of the best psychological thrillers that I've seen is 'Perfect Blue' by Satoshi Kon, a director that I really think the Doctor, and everyone else, should look into. Paprika was also brilliant but my favourite creation by Kon-san is his psychological horror series 'Paranoia Agent'. If you haven't seen it, or any of his work, I strongly urge you to do so. ALSO, in relation to the subject of christmas movies, if you are looking for a heartwarming christmas japanese animation I would recommend 'Tokyo Godfathers' also by Satoshi Kon.

    Short films anyone? Katsuhiro Ottomo, in collaboration with other great writers produced a great little collection called 'Memories', my favourite of which is 'Stink Bomb' and is actually one of my favourite ever short films.

    If you want something absolutely visually arresting, disturbing, with a shameless sense of humour I recommend Dead Leaves. It plays with the conventions of 'typical' japanese animation and manga and will either give you a massive headache or a massive grin or both. I imagine that it is probably the marmite of animation, basically if you find it difficult to stomach a protagonist with a TV for a head and also a man with a huge drill for a penis then you won't like it. I on the other hand think that it's mad, gloriously violent, and utterly ridiculous in the best way possible. The reason why all this works is that it's short enough to justify and acknowledge its ridiculousness and, believe it or not, actually crams in a semi-coherent plot. Check out the first part,

    Anyway, I know I have just solely gone on about Japanese animation but I do love other animation too. 'Les triplettes de Belleville' or 'Belleville Rondez-Vous' is brilliant.

    I think we as Brits should all be very proud of Aardman Animations as they have, and continue to produce some great films.
    On the subject of 'Up' I agree with the Doc that the rest of the film did not live up to the expectations set in the first 10 minutes, and although it was enjoyable, it wasn't 'Toy Story' or 'Toy Story 2'.

    On the subject of 'Dougal and the Blue Cat', I am 23 years old, 6,3", and am pushing 17 stone. When I think about that blue cat, I think of being trapped in a maze of mirrors with lightening cracking and gongs smashing and I am genuinely scared. I haven't gone back to it since I saw it when I was about 6 or 7 and never really intended to but now that you've brought it up, I would like to give it a go now. I'm not easily scared and like good horror movies but don't be suprised if I never post again, on your head be it Dr.K.

  • Comment number 18.

    dudefozz - I don't know about Watership Down ever being whimsical, I saw it in the cinema when I was about 6 and it traumatized me for life. The tidal wave of blood still haunts my dreams. Truly one of the more sadistic children's movies of the 70's.

  • Comment number 19.

    One of the best animated programs I have ever seen has to be the japanese anime tv series 'Death Note'. So not to go on about the plot here's the wiki page [url]]
    The story is very thought provoking, it brings up lots of questions about good and evil and makes you think about the choices the characters make. The plot is driven by the development of the main characters; we watch the actions they take and the repercussions they have later on.
    If you have the urge to watch this try to see it in the original japanese (with subs), as the english dubs often water down and edit-to-fit the content.

  • Comment number 20.

    Saying 'Akira' is almost arbitrary to mention (as is 'Ghost in the Shell') as an anime' fan, however it's been a long time since I actually watched it, though have seen it a good ten or so times.

    Anything by Miyazaki or studio Ghibli is gold, or near enough, I say this with the authority of someone who has been a fan far before the likes of 'Spirited Away' and 'Howls Moving Castle'.

    One of the best psychological thrillers that I've seen is 'Perfect Blue' by Satoshi Kon, a director that I really think the Doctor, and everyone else, should look into. Paprika was also brilliant but my favourite creation by Kon-san is his psychological horror series 'Paranoia Agent'. If you haven't seen it, or any of his work, I strongly urge you to do so. ALSO, in relation to the subject of christmas movies, if you are looking for a heartwarming Christmas Japanese animation I would recommend 'Tokyo Godfathers' also by Satoshi Kon.

    Short films anyone? Katsuhiro Ottomo, in collaboration with other great writers produced a great little collection called 'Memories', my favourite of which is 'Stink Bomb' and is actually one of my favourite ever short films.

    If you want something absolutely visually arresting, disturbing, with a shameless sense of humour I recommend Dead Leaves. It plays with the conventions of 'typical' Japanese animation and manga and will either give you a massive headache or a massive grin or both. I imagine that it is probably the marmite of animation, basically if you find it difficult to stomach a protagonist with a TV for a head and also a man with a huge drill for a penis then you won't like it. I on the other hand think that it's mad, gloriously violent, and utterly ridiculous in the best way possible. The reason why all this works is that it's short enough to justify and acknowledge its ridiculousness and, believe it or not, actually crams in a semi-coherent plot.

    Anyway, I know I have just solely gone on about Japanese animation but I do love other animation too. 'Les triplettes de Belleville' or 'Belleville Rondez-Vous' is brilliant.

    I think we as Brits should all be very proud of Aardman Animations as they have, and continue to produce some great films.

    On the subject of 'Up' I agree with the Doc that the rest of the film did not live up to the expectations set in the first 10 minutes, and although it was enjoyable, it wasn't 'Toy Story' or 'Toy Story 2'.

    On the subject of 'Dougal and the Blue Cat', I am 23 years old, 6,3", and am pushing 17 stone. When I think about that blue cat, I think of being trapped in a maze of mirrors with lightening cracking and gongs smashing and I am genuinely scared. I haven't gone back to it since I saw it when I was about 6 or 7 and never really intended to but now that you've brought it up, I would like to give it a go now. I'm not easily scared and like good horror movies but don't be surprised if I never post again, on your head be it Dr.K.

    P.s. I posted this about half an hour ago but it has apparently been referred to the modulators!? Is it because I posted a youtube link? Or is it for using the correct medical term for a man's *ahem* member?

  • Comment number 21.

    Ah it's ok, I just read the 'House Rules', it was for posting a website. Slap on the wrist for me. Sorry.

  • Comment number 22.

    Great post and fantastic comments. A lot of films I haven't heard of, and will make an effort to check out as I consider myself a fan of animation.

    Even though I have little to add, I think it is important to differentiate digital animation too. A lot of attention is paid to Pixar 'modelling' type of animation, but I think something which is very interesting was the type of animation in Waltz With Bashir, which was made using Flash, for those who are unaware of it, it is a programme which is usually mainly used for making websites.

    Great article about the film here

  • Comment number 23.

    The worst are easy enough - 'Shark Tale' must be the absolute nadir of those tedious referential animations where we're all supposed to squeal with delight at their anachronistic or hideously misplaced pop-culture characterisations, 'Cars' was the worst Pixar film by light years, and anything touched by Don Bluth immediately dissolves into a sugary vomitous mass.

    As for the best, 'Wall-E', 'Beauty and the Beast' and 'The Corpse Bride' are the ones that first come to mind, though I'd put in a good word for animated shorts, especially classic forties 'Tom and Jerry' or fifties 'Road Runner'.

  • Comment number 24.

    Great to see Tokyo Godfather's getting some kudos here!
    I'm a huge fan of all the sort of Japanese animation that other people have mentioned (Miyazaki and Akira especially).
    One of the interesting developments in animation, I think, has been the hybrid form of "real performance" and animation by rotoscoping. Just mention it as its used to brilliant effect in one of my current favourite films, Richard Linklater's "Waking Life". (Linklater also used it, more recently, in A Scanner Darkly, which I liked, not least because it is the first faithful adaptation to screen of a Philip K Dick book)

  • Comment number 25.

    Oh god, how could I forget watership down? There is absolutely no WAY that would be shown to todays children. Nothing forced the cruelty of nature so vividly into my childhood.

  • Comment number 26.

    You must of had fools in the screening room for not thinking Mary Poppins is one of the greatest films of all time.

    Another couple of films I thought of which stand out for me:

    Where the Wind Blows and the Iron Giant

    Both very different from the typical studio fair and both telling great and interesting stories.

  • Comment number 27.

    Ghibli Studios are by far more superior to any of the Lion Kings and other cheesy animations. I cannot believe they did not mention this on the program tonight. Secret of Nimh; brilliant. Akira; legendary. Wallace and Gromit; all time classic. Not much else is actually worth mentioning really...

  • Comment number 28.

    Miyazaki is definitely due some crdit here, nice to see some people have mentioned him already. He's created some of my favourite animated films ever, right the way from the brilliant Castle of Cagliostro to Studio Ghibli's modern day works I haven't seen one I disliked. Castle of Cagliostro, Porco Rosso and Spirited Away would have to be my top picks if I was forced to, but it'd be a tough choice!

    I really love the Aardman films, so this show was a really nice treat.

  • Comment number 29.

    I have to agree with Mark about Dougal and the Blue Cat...though as a story of mad, dark poignancy more than as an animation. We had it on record when I was a child and the "noise from the factory" still gives me the willies.

    And I know all the words to the songs...

  • Comment number 30.

    Come on mention of WATERSHIP DOWN?!!!! It's the only one worth talking about.

  • Comment number 31.

    I'd like to say that Plague Dogs is a fantastic movie, but very disturbing and if you haven't seen it, definitely not one for the kids.

    The Lion King is another favourite, a cinematic masterpiece (even if it *was* a bit of a rip-off of Kimba the White Lion animated series). I'm not a fan of the majority of Disney animated features, but every once in a while a classic comes out from between the chaff, Wall-E being the most recent example.

    Mirrormask, with it's combination of live action, puppetry, and digimation is worth a close look as a fantastic example of mixing different media seamlessly into a very entertaining film.

    Not the popular choice, but Ralph Bakshi's Wizards and Lord of the Rings (Sadly never finished) are both films that left their mark on me as I grew up.

  • Comment number 32.

    Hello Mark Kermode & Simon Mayo,

    I have just finished watching your show. As someone who has just graduated from studying Media and Culture, I must say that I felt totally let down by tonight's show. The set of the show looked very "cultural" with dimmed lighting, square glasses, chandlers and waves of silk cloth. However, you totally lacked a critical edge in your critical analysis. Claiming that things just related to "corporate stuff" sounds like a big blag; what corporate stuff are you referring to?. I felt like what we were in fact really watching, was two men who had complied a playlist of moment from their favorite childhood animations - which is fine, maybe nice, but to make some claim about that being an intellectual cultural diagnosis of some type - is a falsification; a complete facade! If you are going to analyse media or cultural artifacts from a critical perspective then I think you should should become a lot more theoretically / political engaged. As a student who has just come out of a degree course, I feel that I have so much to learn on the topic of media and its relationship to culture; as people who are employed to represent this area of study - I really think you are letting people down. If you can't do a good enough job, maybe you should let the real professionals have a go?

  • Comment number 33.

    What about Lotte Reininger? Fairy Tale films produced 1922 -1964 with simply paper and scissors and a backlight. Fantastic pateince and skill.
    Mirrormask is excellent and I love Ghibli, The Lion King is great although I still have to fast forward through the bit where scar tells Simba that it is his fault that his Dad is dead!
    As for shorts...Goofy wins hands down and the Birds by pixar is brilliantly simple.
    I also love some of the mix of CGI with live action in Hero and House of Flying Daggers... or maybe its a mix of that and the ultra slow mo's.. is this a new form of stop animation?
    Oh and Nightmare before Christmas, enough already need to go and watch some animation.
    But well done Aardman!

  • Comment number 34.

    Can't believe Who Framed Roger Rabbit wasn't mentioned as it's broke the ground of live action/animation and it had a great story. Mary Poppins is a classic I agree but it's mostly a live action film.

  • Comment number 35.

    Its such a relief to know I'm not the only person in the world who thinks Mary Poppins is more than sugar coated emetic. Basically an anti-capitalist critique of the banking system and the english class system I'm surprised it was published as a book let alone made into classic film. Any careful viewing reveals a profoundly subversive story. Its the triumph of love and the possibility of change over the tyranny of corrupt bankers and an oppressive system (I wish).

  • Comment number 36.

    I couldn't adapt from the rounded Disney forms of Snow White and Fantasia to the scratchy edges of The Aristocats. I love the eastern european stop motion puppet animations of Shakespeare. My latest favourite is Belleville Rendezvous by Sylvain Chomet.2003 and a return to cells and hand drawn animation and real charm. Lots of music but no dialogue.

  • Comment number 37.

    Didn't watch the Culture Show, so can't comment on what was discussed there (doesn't seem to be currently available on the BBC, either).

    Nightmare Before Christmas is a masterpiece, and is certainly in my top 3 all time animation films.

    I love Anime: Ghost in the Shell 1 and 2 (and the Stand Alone Complex series); Metropolis; Blood: The Last Vampire; Nausicaa Valley Of The Wind; Spirited Away; Perfect Blue; and Princess Mononoke are among some of my favourite works.

    Elsewhere, I adore Belleville Rendezvous.

    Renaissance was also a very interesting film (visually), despite some of the story flaws.

    I loved what Richard Linklater managed to do with Scanner Darkly. There is a good future in this sort of technique, I think.

    Will definitely second The Secret of Nimh, which I loved almost as much as I loved The Dark Crystal when I saw it for the first time. Actually, if you're including "stop motion", shouldn't we also include animatronics and puppetry, in which case you have to include the Dark Crystal. Some of the animatronics used in there was ground-breaking for its time.

    Speaking of stop motion, you have to give special mention to the work of Ladislas Starevich. His work was amazing, if a bit macabre. I managed to see a documentary about him, The Bug Trainer. Not the best documentary (had a number of flaws), but still, interesting.

  • Comment number 38.

    Undoubtedly the worst animated film in living memory is Shark's Tale. It was produced by a big-name studio, had a voice cast packed with famous people, no story, no memorable characters, no humour, no insight, no point, and absolutely no charm whatsoever.

    As for the best ... I'd vote for Aardman's "A Grand Day Out" and/or "The Wrong Trousers" (if only for that rubber glove), anything by Miyazaki (although the first one I saw was Spirited Away, so I'll always like that best), and the first half an hour of Wall-E.

    And please don't mention Who Framed Roger Rabbit in the same breath as the rest of these films. It was as gimmicky in its day as 3D is now. (And if we're going to include live-action movies that incorporate animation, I'd also vote for Kill Bill Vol. 1, and not just for the animated sequence - the whole films is vaguely cartoony. At least it doesn't star Steven Seagal.)

  • Comment number 39.

    The Lion King is the best animated film of all time! Extraordinary music, great characters, a dark plot, humour for all the family, a nasty villiain and beautiful imagery. Other greats would include Toy Story, Fantasia, Snow White and Mary Poppins. Outside Disney I can only really consider Spirited away and The Snowman as animated films to mention in the same blog.

  • Comment number 40.

    I can answer this and your last question (best Christmas movie) in one film. A Nightmare before Christmas.

    The the movement of the characters is simply mesmerising, especially in the scene when jack is singing the lament. Is long legged almost fluid movement is simply amazing.

  • Comment number 41.

    i have thought about it for a while now and come to the conclusion that it would take some real skill to have a digimation flick for a matura audience. Anime has long since been a place in the art of cinema where some of the most horrific thoughts are expressed, yet digimation (correct me if im wrong) is pretty much always been used to present childrens or family films, and it has been this way for so long now that it is hard to picture it under any other light, and would therefore be hard to take seriously if it were to deal with the more explicit of issues...

  • Comment number 42.

    By the way my favorite animated films are Spirited Away, Monsters Inc, Perfect Blue and obviously the Toy Story films (which means i am obviously dreading the potential of the third installment setting blasphemy new standards)

  • Comment number 43.

    .. and to think i didnt mention Waltz with Bashir

  • Comment number 44.

    I prefer non digital animation because of the graphic quality that comes from images that are drawn, painted, or sculpted. Some of the best animation I have ever seen is in animated shorts from local festivals. Everything from cut paper to animated spaghetti.

    There is something magical about the creation of an artists hand coming to life. My favourite animated film has to be Spirited Away from Studio Ghibli with Wallace and Grommet coming a very close second.

  • Comment number 45.

    The greatest animation ever, by some distance, is the Simpsons.
    Have you caught up with the flawless first 9 seasons (and the regrettable 12 that followed) yet?
    Though I prefer film to television, nothing beats The Simpsons it’s better than Its a Wonderful Life mixed with Cries and Whispers with a side order of the Godfather parts one and two

  • Comment number 46.

    Most certainly Akira, as well as a fair few others from the Manga/Anime world, the stories are sometimes bonkers, but the visuals are always stunning.

    I would also add my voice to those mentioning Plague Dogs and Watership Down - dark tales that I remember growing up that were quite disturbing but carry important messages, and are also beautifully done. The Ralph Bakshi interpretation of The Lord of the Rings was another that was very dark and strange, yet mesmerising as a kid.

    David Lynch's The Grandmother definitely deserves a mention, surely? Wonderfully bizarre, dark and haunting.

    Personally, after The Wrong Trousers, the Aardman stuff starts to grate with me. All the cheese jokes and enormous grins just leave me cold now. It's well done, don't get me wrong, just not to my taste. And the wishy-washy sentimentality of Disney makes me want to vomit. Blech.

  • Comment number 47.

    Hallas and Bachelor's wonderful Animal Farm was one we watched and watched again -my children loved it, dark though it is at times. I loved the original 101 Dalmatians as the first film I ever saw in the cinema, even though it Americanised everything. For me, the stand-out scene in Mary Poppins is David Tomlinson singing 'Let's Go Fly A Kite'. Just humming it lifts my spirits.

  • Comment number 48.

    Old Disney stuff will always be timeless and brilliant, especially the Goofy shorts which I am delighted others have pointed out. Warner Brothers Looney Tunes is delightfully insane and still makes me laugh, as does Tom and Jerry. One thing that I have realised though is that my transition from innocence to experience can be summed up very simply; When I was a kid I always enjoyed how Roadrunner used to get past Wile E. Coyote, now however, I absolutely hate that meeping smug little meeper! If I ever met Coyote I would tell him to stop going to ACME and instead try to get hold of some of that gruel from 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit.'

  • Comment number 49.

    I'm glad you mentioned here that you did talk about Miyazaki and Japanese animation, as I feel they are a masters of the art. After seeing A Christmas Carol, and the fairly obvious obsession with the 3D medium. It reminded me of something I heard Miyazaki to have said, which is that the US focus a lot on the technological advancement of animation, Where as in Japan they are more preoccupied with the story. I think this is why Japan tend to producing more interesting films, and the US films tend to be hashing out stories retold with new characters.

    Saying this I do love digimation, but feel we do have to weather the storm, just as we did in the post Jurassic Park Special Effects tidal wave (sorry, there was no word I could put in there that could not end up a Pun!), At least we are now, more often than not getting films with a story that use Special Effects to help tell that story - even though we get the duds like 2012. One day the novelty will ware off with Digianimation, and animators will (hopefully) use the tool that best suits the way they want to tell the story.

    Finishing where I started, do you find it interesting that Miyazaki has now turned to John Lasseter the "Godfather" to the digimation generation to do the English (ie American) dubs to his films? It is also interesting that Lasseter is Exec for "Princess and the Frog" Disney's first 2D feature in 5 years, an art form Lasseter accidently killed off when he created Toy Story.

  • Comment number 50.

    It seems Mr Brooker likes you too as stated in his twitter comment here in full.
    (Okay, let's think of a videogame to convince Mark Kermode (who I like). Something along the lines of Fatal Frame / The Path / Dead Space?)
    I don't think it will be long before we witness both of you hand in hand skipping through the heather together.

  • Comment number 51.

    These days the question has to be asked: what is animation?

    Much of the Lord of The Rings is animated and yet no one has mentioned that. And there isn't a single block-buster which doesn't have a digital creation at some point.

    Rotoscoping is the accurate (and lazy?) means to animation, and motion capture is the high-tech (and even lazier?) equivalent to rotoscoping. And as you included Snow White (which used rotoscoping) and Mary Poppins (which is a mixture of live action and animation) it clearly counts.

    It looks like animation is alive and well and slowly taking over.

  • Comment number 52.

    Good to see someone mention Starewicz. His Tale of the Fox from the early 30s is so far ahead of anything being produced in the US at the time - the rather seedy figures perfectly complement the immorality of his source material, & the gleeful cruelty - particularly in the sequence on the ice - is magnificent.

  • Comment number 53.

    I'm afraid I do have a criticism of "Dougal and the Blue Cat" even though I've yet to see it... it isn't available on DVD, every time you mention it I have a look at Amazon to see if it is out yet only to find it still isn't, just old VHS copies. Perhaps if you keep mentioning it the BBC will get the hint and air it on one of their many channels.

  • Comment number 54.

    I thought I was the only one who had seen Dougal & The Blue Cat! The animation and the imagination it took to create that world is a credit to Serge Danot and of course you cant talk about The Magic Roundabout in the UK without mentioning Eric Thompson and what he did to bring it to the screen in this country - a great film which I fondly remember through 'blue' tinted glasses.

  • Comment number 55.

    how about the fabulous 'mad monster party?' the 1967 stop motion animated from Rankin/Bass. with the vocal talents of boris karloff and phylliss diller and 'starring' the universal monsters.. whats not to like.

  • Comment number 56.

    I must too give a big shout out to "The Iron Giant" still brings a little tear to my eye

  • Comment number 57.

    Thank you Mark for making the point about the very sad trend, which is now the norm, of celebrities doing voices for main roles in animated films. While some may work, like Tom Hanks in Toy Story(infact apart from Owen Wilson in Cars, Pixar seem to be the only studio to always pick the right voices, even if they are sometimes celebrities), most don't and what your left with is a very poor vocal performance which spoils a character and which in 40 years time won't mean a thing because that generation won't care who they are. It's a sad case and something which leaves excellent voice actors to stick to The Simpsons, Futurama, et al.

  • Comment number 58.

    I enjoyed your programme on Aardman but I think the work of Hayao Miyazaki should have been mentioned given his fantastic contribution to the genre!

  • Comment number 59.

    Having been a fan of Hayao Miyazaki since childhood (English dubs of his work were available in Asia long before Disney got in on the game), it's great to see Studio Ghibli getting some long-overdue praise from British viewers and critics of your stature. However, beyond Akira there remains a great wealth of Japanese animation unavailable in the English language, particularly some groundbreaking children's films and adult-oriented features from the golden era of the Sixties, Seventies and early Eighties. The same can be said of nearly forgotten European animators like Paul Grimault. If this stuff were more readily available, family audiences wouldn't have to put up with substandard CG rubbish.

  • Comment number 60.

    Thanks for 'Biggin' up' the Blue Cat. What a bonkers movie. I was a huge fan as a child - and like previous contributors, I'm sad it's not obviously available to buy. The world deserves to hear again the full glory of 'Florence it's a lovely morning...'

  • Comment number 61.

    Ghost in the Shell has surely to be the best animated film!

  • Comment number 62.

    Personally, I love any of Peter Firmin's work, from Pogle's wood to Noggin the Nog.

    More recently, one of my favorites is "The mysterious geographic explorations of Jaspar Morello", a sort of steam-punk shadow play.

  • Comment number 63.

    I love all of the Pixar's films even the shorts that are in front of the main film. They are without doubt the greatest studio in the US. How can they get it right when so many haven't got a clue (Jeffrey Katzenberg are you listening).
    Also can I mention the Jim Henson film The Dark Crystal, I know it’s not animated but it’s great!

  • Comment number 64.

    Ouch... this is one of those questions like "What's your favourite feature film". As an animation ex-grad whos covered the history of the genre on a weekly basis in lectures I'm almost spoilt for choice.
    Brad Bird (Ratatouille, The Incredibles, The Iron Giant) hates it when people refer to animation as a 'genre' rather than as a medium. He maintains any genre that can be used in live action is equally applicable to animation.
    I'm inclined to agree with him. But since you ask...
    Favourite animated features would include Belleville Rendezvous, The Iron Giant, South park: Bigger Longer and Uncut, Ratatouille, Spirited Away, amongst others too numerous to mention.
    Animated shorts are great ground for experimentation, and some of the best films have had the lowest production values of all.
    My personal favourite is Don Hertzfeld's short "Rejected"; a fictionalised account of Hertzfelt's career meltdown after being forced to make animated TV commercials to pay the bills.
    The film is a faked showreel of commercials. Each commercial is either too sick or weird to be aired and title cards explain how all of them were rejected on sight, resulting in Hertzfeld's increasingly shaky grasp on reality, which culminates in a cartoon apocalypse... a great satire on the tension between commercial pressures and artistic filmaking.
    My least favourite feature? Snow White. I know this is heresy, but if it wasn't for the fact it was Walt's first animated feature, this movie would have been forgotten a long time ago.
    Snow White as a protagonist is a one-note cypher and too sacharrine to be true, with no discernable character arc. Ditto the handsome prince. The support characters are two dimensional at best. Sorry but by today's standards it's underdeveloped dross.

  • Comment number 65.

    Mark i highly believe that Disney had mande classic animation films like The Lion King which In MY DAMN HONEST OPENING Has the best opening sequence i have seen in film history.

    Toy Story and Toy Story 2 are two classics and i hope the third film is as good if not better.

    I myself have also gotton into japanese anime and i would like a short recomendation list of what Anime films you could recommend me.



    P.S. Mark Kermode & Charlie Brooker should both be in a TV Series.

  • Comment number 66.

    Victor Hugo fans might disagree but Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame is a wonderful film, and especially bold because of it's exploration of the sexual lust the purital villain has for the gypsy girl.

    However, something I've still to this day never heard mentioned is the bold political analogies of Disney's The Jungle Book: It was made in 1967 at the height of the Civil Rights Movement - in the film the apes sing jazz, live in a slum and are voiced by black actors, singing "I want to walk right into town/I want to be like you", threatening to burn the jungle down if their demands are not met. Every other animal type in the film represents a contemporary group: Throwbacks to the dying British Empire (elephants), a beatnik (Baloo) and the ever observing Beatles-esque beat combo (vultures). Yet despite the Afro-American 'apes' the film doesn't offend, largely because of the skill with which it carries off it's prophetic analogy. the fact that it was so on the button when such films take so long to make is a testament to the creatives behind it.

  • Comment number 67.

    I'm glad to see that three people have mentioned in passing Sylvain Chomet's superb 'Les Triplettes de Belleville, called 'Belleville Rendezvous' when released in the UK. For decades now France has been the most inventive country in Europe (possibly the world) in terms of its wealth of comic strips, both for children and adults.

    Finally a French animator arrived who took the 'bandes dessinees' tradition and produced a masterpiece (whose music, incidentally, makes that of 'Mary Poppins' sound like 'Jack and Jill went up the hill').

  • Comment number 68.

    I know their TV series but what about Mysterious Cities of Gold and Ulysses 31, two awesome programs that should be made into films.

  • Comment number 69.

    I totally agree with Adrian Bamforth. "The Hunchback Of Notre Dame" is probably my absolute top Disney film. The visuals combined with he brilliant characters; the dark, adult themes related to the villain; and such a score with some great songs.

    Another great Disney film, I think, is "The Black Cauldron". This was one of those interesting films that Disney made just before their second Golden Age from "Little Mermaid" to "Atlantis". There's no songs, it came from a fairly unknown source material, and it is INCREDIBLY dark. Plus John Hurt is the bad guy, the Horned King (obviously, the Devil). Can't get better than that.

    Well, okay, it can. I'm a massive fan of nearly every Pixar film except "Cars" which is adaquate at best. I've even got a soft spot for the "Shrek" films. While I may not be as much of an anime fan as my sister, I love the work of Miyazaki, particularly "Laputa" and "Howl's Moving Castle".

    And, of course, there's a shameful lack of stop-motion in films, with only two big contenders: Aardman, of course, with the wonderful "Chicken Run" and "Wallace & Grommit"; and Tim Burton, with his sublime "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and "Corpse Bride". Beautiful.

    Worst? Phew...anything Disney made after "Atlantis", plus nearly all of their direct-to-dvd/video sequels; an awful piece of garbage called "The Magic Voyage"; but abvoe all else a woeful, woeful attempt at making a cartoon version of "The King And I" with Ian Richardson as a panto-esque villain. So many hours wasted...never to get them back...damn.

  • Comment number 70.

    I was 13 when i watched a tape of AKIRA that had been recoreded off the tv the night before. i remember then, how i felt like i had been closed minded about animation. I owe a lot to that movie for making me never shy away from watching different things.

  • Comment number 71.

    Ninja Scroll (the original movie NOT the cheap spin-off series) is by far my favourite animation film as far as the hand-drawn variety goes.

    It is such a clever method of overcoming it's tight budget restrictions with creative solutions. It refuses to compromise on action, character and story and gives you a fantasy samurai story that is way ahead of anything in live action.

    So far I've not seen anything to beat it!

  • Comment number 72.

    Hello Dr. K (and Mr. Mayo if you read this),

    Lots of great comments on here and am glad to see plenty of animations that i haven't seen before mentioned that i really will have to check out ..

    I too personally love all the Studio Ghibli films - in particular Only Yesterday, My Neighbour Totoro and Spirited Away are all firm favourites, but I feel that Miyazaki's latest 'Ponyo' was absolutely amazing, combining the simplistic story elements of 'Totoro' with some of his more fantastical ideas from Howl's Moving Catsle to stunning effect. The scene where Ponyo was seen to be running on the waves during the storm had me crying tears of joy and i don't know of many things to do that .. I think it may yet turn out to be another favourite but only time will tell ..

    Other favourites are Disney's Jungle Book and Pixar's Toy Story and Finding Nemo - and I have to disagree with Dr. Kermode when he says Toy Story 2 is better than Toy Story - although 2 is very enjoyable with some wonderful moments, it just doesn't have the same effect, with there definitely being a sense that they are following the same structure but just going bigger in scale, especially at the end if you contrast the 2 chase sequences, the first is much more exciting and benefits from having a more believable basis (ie catching up with the moving van on a remote controlled car vs. running after a plane on a toy horse). .. that said I do remember having a literal jaw dropping moment seeing Toy Story 2 in the cinema in the scene with the popcorn and the sleeping Al on the sofa ..

    Although I enjoyed Up I do agree with you Dr. K (and other people who have posted before) that recent Pixar films such as Up and Wall-E aren't neccessarily the masterpieces that some are convinced they are. I still have enjoyed them but feel that, although they deserve to be praised for their openings and the daring showed in both films is highly commendable in what are perceived by studios as primarily children's fare, they both begin wonderfully before seeming in the final third or so to slide into a crazy madcap chase sequence to wrap things up !! Surely there is another way to conclude these stories in a more mature and satisfying way ?..

    I think you would appreciate this review I read of Up today ..

    favourite shorts are -

    Hedgehog in the Fog by Yuri Norstein
    The Monk and the Fish and Father and Daughter by Michael Dudok De Wit
    Particles In Space by Len Lye
    Begone Dull Care by Norman McLaren

    Sorry, bit of a long post but thanks for letting me get that off my chest ...

  • Comment number 73.

    one more thing, and not sure wether this is neccessarily the correct place for this but anyway, concerning what you seem to consider to be the problem with a lot of CG used in films today -

    I think you would find this article interesting that I came across - although a few years old now I still feel that a lot of his concerns still haven't been fully addressed in much effects work seen in today's blockbusters - and are probably relevant to what concerns you have over issues of weight and believabilty associated with CG work - as in comments you have previously made about 'Imaginarium of Dr Parnassuss' and '2012' ...

    If you have never seen any of this excellent animator's work then also do check it out on youtube - i especially like 'Screenplay' ..

  • Comment number 74.


    I am doing a project exploring digital drawing and trying to find the value of the hand drawn image in the digital age.

    Personally I do not feel the advanced digital animation techniques of the 21st century hold any more value than that of the traditional hand drawn animation because I do not feel it can achieve any more than the hand drawn technique. I find early animation as equally emotive if not more because there is something 'sensitive' about the hand drawn technique.

    Do you agree/disagree?

    Oh, and by the way I think Mark hit the nail on the head with Mary Poppins. It's one of my favourite films of all time and I personally thinks holds more worth than many people give it credit for!

  • Comment number 75.

    Also, can anyone identify or explain why there has been a craze in recent years here for Japanese style animation? It's not anything to do with Pokemon is it?!

  • Comment number 76.

    With the advert of CGI would it be considered that films like Star Wars episode 1 to 3 and soon to open Avatar,which have tons of animated characters in them, be more animations than live action films. Are the lines between the two being blurred?

  • Comment number 77.

    I have to say that I was absolutely thrilled when, many moons ago, the good Doctor mentioned his love of Dougal and the Blue Cat on the Mayo radio show. It is one of the first films I remember seeing as a child (on a VHS that became incredibly worn and battered after I watched it hundreds of times) and I have many happy memories of watching it with my younger sister. I found our old copy of the film several years ago when I moved house and decided to watch it again to see if it stood up against my sepia-tinted memories of it. It was even better viewed through adult eyes, as I was able to appreciate not only the bizarre and beautiful animation but also the truly loopy and witty writing and voice acting of Eric Thompson. To this day, the phrase "Blue is beautiful, blue is best" sends shivers down my spine and I am guaranteed to get a laugh out of my sister by adopting my finely-honed (Read: slightly shoddy) Buxton impression.

    As for other favourites I'll have to add to the tidal wave of praise for Hayao Miyazaki and the collected works of Studio Ghibli. I first discovered their work, as I'm sure others did, through Spirited Away, a film as beguiling and charming as it is beautiful behold, and have since become an avid fan, clamouring to see every new release with a near religious fervor. I was fortunate enough to catch a screening of Ponyo at a showcase for independent cinemas and, apart from the re-recording of the end credits song with vocals by Miley Cyrus' little brother rendering it almost too twee for words, it is another masterful creation from the master. Perhaps aimed more overtly at children than his recent films, it's still a rambunctious and exuberant re-telling of The Little Mermaid that frequently had me on the verge of tears from its sheer joyousness. Though my favourite of theirs would have to be My Neighbour Totoro, not only for its sweet and gentle nature, but also because I watched it for the first time after my mother had recovered from a battle with cancer, and the story chimed so strongly with me and really helped me to work through a lot of the emotions that I felt at the time. It's a connection that I've rarely felt with any other film, animated or live action, and I think it is a truly special film.

    Outside of Ghibli, the usual suspects of Disney (both their early 30s-60s period and their 90s revival; Beauty and the Beast was the first film I saw in the cinema and I've been in love with animation ever since), Pixar and, to drift into television, The Simpsons and Futurama (the latter of which I personally feel far exceeds the former).

  • Comment number 78.

    As much as I enjoy Mary Poppins (the horrible laughing Uncle bit always annoyed me) for me the better mixture of live action and cel animation is from 'Bedknobs & Broomsticks' which I saw as a child and loved. Also no one has mentioned Ray Harryhausen's stop motion.. especially 'Jason and the Argonauts' which has some brilliant stuff, the swordfight with the skeletons especially..

    My favourite animated scene in a movie is the clocks section at the beginning of my favourite Disney movie. i.e. Pinocchio, which for me, wins out over Dumbo for being darker at it's heart.

    Of course I love Aardman, Toy Story, Miyazaki, Svankmayer, Belleville, et al

    Also would like to mention the Quay Brothers... Street of Crocodiles is amazing...

  • Comment number 79.

    First animated film I ever saw and perhaps my favourite is Le Roi et l'oiseau (The King and the Mockingbird) 1948 by Paul Grimault, or as I knew it for English release 'Mr Bird to the Rescue'. Saw it when I was 4 and have seen it a hundred times since.

    The Gilliamesque feel, dark comedy, realistic fantasy and great story, make it a convincing feature film, which happens to be hand drawn and animated with extreme care and attention.

    Also, pleased to discover it was one of Miyazaki's favourite films and an influence, man has good taste!

  • Comment number 80.

    AS WELL, the film has a beautifuly haunting score and is most likely a metaphor for the french revolution, when the people and caged lions and tigers storm the palace. I learned to draw perspective based on the brilliant proportions used in the film for the buildings and giant statues of the king. Finally the last moment of the film where the giant steam punk robot frees the bumbling chic and smashes the cage is very moving, a great film for all ages, let the word spread WATCH THIS FILM!!!

    Other child hood delights in animation include Watership Down, Wind In The Willows stop motion, Postman Pat and my favourite character of all, Morph.

  • Comment number 81.

    Just like to thank the posters so far for introducing me to Satoshi Kon. I'd previously only heard of him through Millennium Actress, which I sought out due to an interest in Setsuko Hara on whose life it's based.

    Have just ordered Perfect Blue and Tokyo Godfathers and am looking forward to watching them.

    Of the Ghibli films, certainly the most moving for me was Grave of the Fireflies, a film I think Roger Ebert described as the most powerful anti-war film ever made. Not bad for an animation.

    It also questions the traditional western mindset of animation being childish.

  • Comment number 82.

    Waking Life! is that even animated? most interesting animated film ever I think, in terms of content and visuals.

  • Comment number 83.

    Nice one Tim! I might as well mention a few other anime's that I think you and others on this blog would appreciate.

    Wings of Honneamise
    Roujin Z
    Macross Plus
    Patlabor 1 (Patlabor 2's politics gets a little too heavy and makes it very difficult to follow.)
    Ninja Scroll has already been mentioned. If you like fantasy and samurai then this is the one for you, more rip roaring than artsy but very often, with anime, that's exactly what you're after. Whatever you do, DO NOT buy Ninja Resurrection after you watch Ninja Scroll. The company that made Ninja Resurrection surreptitiously marketed it as 'Ninja Scroll 2' without actually calling it 'Ninja Scroll 2' and believe me when I say, I haven't seen 'Bride Wars' but man that anime really was bad. The actual animation was very good but the story was dire.
    Shadow Skill is another rip roarer.

    For Series' I recommend; Cow Boy Bee-Bop, Paranoia Agent (mentioned in my previous post), New Dominion Tank Police, Samurai Champloo.

    Unfortunately that is all I can remember off the top of my head as I have a bad memory and my 80+ anime collection is not to hand at the moment (house being re-decorated). Read my earlier post for a few more suggestions.

  • Comment number 84.

    I am eternally grateful to my (25-year old) son for introducing me to the work of Studio Ghibli.

    It is not terribly helpful to repeat the comments of others so I would like to suggest that you give 'Steamboy' a try. Its retro science fiction is so inventive, so imaginative and entertaining.

    While I am here I will give 'Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind' a big thumbs-up together with 'Spirited Away' (of course) and the very first Japanese animation I saw 'Porco Rosso' which persuaded me to try more Japan animations.

  • Comment number 85.

    There is a definate slant towards ghibli on this feed with good reason, but I wanted to mention 'Barefoot Gen' as well as Grave of the fire flies as intensly grown up war films / survival horror.

    Animation is not all about escapism, sometimes it can be the most tactful way of dealing with a subject as repugnant as the atomic bombing of a city and the immediate aftermath. Watch 'Barefoot Gen' or 'Hadashi no Gen' if you can.

  • Comment number 86.

    A few animated films which have suffered the most atrocious neglect are actually certain select television spin-offs.
    For example the films derived from the classic animated Batman-series; "Mask of the Phantasm" and "Subzero" - both displaying bold art design and clever narrative.
    I'm also favourably inclined towards the two feature-length "Daria" episodes Is It Fall Yet? and Is It College Yet?
    While it can be argued that the animation is somewhat cheap and clunky, the brilliantly written characters and their continuous growth throughout the course of the films (and series) is something unique.
    And this was a programme broadcast on MTV, back in the 90's.
    Jesus wept. What can one say?

    My personal favourites however ought to be, in no particular order:

    Princess Mononoke (Miyazaki)
    Perfect Blue (Kon)
    Toy Story 2 (Lasseter/Brannon/Unkrich)
    Persepolis (Satrapi/Paronnaud)
    The Nightmare Before Christmas (Sellick/Burton)
    The Iron Giant (Bird)
    Vincent (Burton)

    I never quite understood the appeal of Disney's "Lion King", though.
    An animated parable of Shakespeare with music and accompanying lyrical travesties by Elton John doesn't really equal a merry good time for me.

  • Comment number 87.

    Here is what happened to Ralph Bakshi's second part of Lord of The rings..
    The film was originally intended to be distributed as The Lord of the Rings Part One. According to Bakshi, when he completed the film, United Artists executives told him that they were planning to release the film without indicating that a sequel would follow, because they felt that audiences would not pay to see half of a film.
    "I told them they can't drop the Part One, because people are going to come in thinking they'll see the whole film, and it's not there. We had a huge fight, and they released it as Lord Of The Rings. So when it came to the end, people were stunned in the theater, even worse than I ever realized they would be, because they were expecting to see the whole film. People keep telling me I never finished the film. And I keep saying, 'That's right!'"
    "Had it said 'Part One,' I think everyone would have respected it. But because it didn't say 'Part One,' everyone came in expecting to see the entire three books, and that's where the confusion comes in."
    The Film Book of J.R.R. Tolkien's the Lord of the Rings, published by Ballantine Books on October 12, 1978, still referred to the sequel in the book's inside cover jacket. Bakshi states that he would never have made the film if he had known what would happen during the production. He is quoted as saying that the reason he made the film was "to save it for Tolkien, because I loved the Rings very much."
    Bakshi also stated that he felt that the film "took more out of me than I got back."
    "[The film] made me realize that I'm not interested in [adapting another writer's story]. That the thing that seemed to interest me the most was shooting off my big mouth, or sitting in a room and thinking about how do you feel about this issue or that issue and how do you get that over to an audience, was the most exciting part of my life."

    My personal favourite animated film is Ralph Bakshi's masterpiece "Wizards", blew my mind as a kid and still does, kids with naked prostitutes and a dope smoking wizard and a bad word at the end, awesome!

  • Comment number 88.

    They did a rather shameful animated version of "Return of the King" as well....

    I will never forget the song "FRODO OF THE 9 FINGERS".

    My personal favourite animated film is Ralph Bakshi's masterpiece "Wizards", blew my mind as a kid and still does, kids with naked prostitutes and a dope smoking wizard and a bad word at the end, awesome!

  • Comment number 89.

    Over 15 years on and The Nightmare Before Christmas is still the best stop-motion animation for my money. A wonderful story and superb atmosphere. Coraline is great too, but every frame of Nightmare is a delight and for me that story will be Burton's greatest achievement.

    Spirited Away is my favorite Miyazaki, Ninja Scroll is my favorite feudal-fantasy anime, and Rurouni Kenshin is probably my favorite animated series across all genres.

    On the future of traditional animation, I'm not worried. The marvel that is Spirited Away had a production cost of around 20 million USD, the abomination that is Shark Tale had a production cost of around 75 million USD. While the cost of producing an all CGI movie will fall, new technology will also aid the traditional animators. I'd fear for stop-motion more.

    I'll echo previous posts and say that for anyone starting to watch anime, almost all of the english language soundtracks are botched. Not only is the translation often incorrect, the tone and emotion of the voice is often inappropriate for the scene being dubbed, which completely impairs enjoyment and causes confusion. Go with subtitles everytime.

  • Comment number 90.

    Jesus, those hands are massive. (Sorry.)

  • Comment number 91.

    Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
    And Labyrinth.
    Both perfect.

  • Comment number 92.

    Good show overall, though a definite shame that neither Japanese animation or TV animation was covered. Understandable though, considering the short time available.

    The only real criticism i have is referring to The Lion King as having "a story that will endure". It's a good film, but complimenting it's story is nonsense, as the entire basic premise of the movie is lifted directly from Kimba the White Lion and many characters and scenes are obvious rip-offs from Kimba. The Lion King also copied scenes and dialog from various other movies, making it the most creatively bankrupt of the Disney films. Still an entertaining movie, mind you, but a complete rip-off of other works.

    As far as stop-motion animation is concerned, i can't see the technique ever becoming widespread, as it simply involves too much work to make it look truly good. Aardman has the stop-motion market pretty much to itself, i'd say.

    Getting back to Japanese animation, i agree that the Ghibli films deserve more recognition than they're getting. Films like Grave of the Fireflies, Nausicaa of the Valley of the wind and Princess Mononoke are among the best animated works in existance.
    Besides Ghibli, there are also numerous Japanese TV animation series that are deserving of greater attention. Examples include Monster, Seirei no Moribito, Princess Tutu, Mushishi, Spice and Wolf, Ghost in the Shell S.A.C., Haibane Renmei, Nodame Cantabile, Black Lagoon, Hajime no Ippo, Aria and many others. Anyone who appreciates their animation having a variety of subject matter should really give some of these a try.

  • Comment number 93.

    The best animated film I've ever seen is Heavy Traffic (1973), which although has bits of shot footage in it, it's predominantly animated. But it's not a cartoon.

  • Comment number 94.

    Have to agree with many on this blog about Hayao Miyazaki. I've seen Spirited Away about 10 times now and it keeps getting better.

    Would also agree with many that The Lion King is better than the average Disney fare - largely because it's based on a proper story (i.e. Hamlet) rather than the princess-and-hero formula the company got stuck in after The Little Mermaid. Roger Rabbit is also great.

    As for the worst animations:

    - Pocahontas: Historical ignorance, subtle racism and terrible lyrics combine to produce a horrible hour-and-a-half
    - Xanadu: has a brief animated section done by Don Bluth, a bizarre and unnecessary diversion in what it probably the naffest film ever made
    - Thumbelina: far too long, far too boring, far too annoying

    But the absolute worst:


    If you thought the James Cameron version was bad... it still is, but four years after that bloated slushfest a small Italian studio released their version. It rips off every Disney character imaginable, has a plot which makes no sense, is terribly animated with endless reuse of the same stock footage, and the songs are HORRIBLE. The whole sequence with the rapping dog being accompanied by the Mexican mice is so bad that when I first saw it, I almost clawed my eyes out. Watch it at your peril, Mark.

  • Comment number 95.

    I like a lot of animation. My favourite at the moment is Len Lye, a New Zealand artist/animator working for the GPO Film Unit in the 30's through to the 60's. Truly amazing.

    Then there's Aardman. And Pixar. And Studio Ghibli. All givens really. Fantastic Mr Fox recently was incredible. Henry Selick's been brilliant in the past. Then classics like The Magic Roundabout. And my personal favourite: a little-known film called The Old Man Of The Mountains - can't find out about it anywhere, very hard to find, and very strange, but amazing.

  • Comment number 96.

    Didnt catch the culture show yet, but I cant beleive it if nobody has mentioned 'Comet Quest - the Adventures of Mark Twain'. Its a Will Vinton Claymation movie from the 80s. Never have I seen a film which is more scary and moving at the same time!

    This is one of the most striking scenes (Ignore the title that it is a banned kids tv show)

    the whole thing can be watched here (its not out on DVD yet)

  • Comment number 97.

    For 2009: Mary & Max

  • Comment number 98.

    I can't believe that Mary Poppins was held up as a shining example of animation, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? was ignored. Still an astonishing film to this day, let alone when it first came out. Also, a conversation about animation took place without Hayao Miyazaki being mentioned. Shameful.

  • Comment number 99.

    Have to mention A Nightmare Before Christmas too - one of the best films of all time. I can't believe Mark mentioned 'Dougal and the Blue Cat' though - I thought I was the only person who'd seen that film! I had it on video growing up - deeply disturbing.

  • Comment number 100.

    Best has to be the first five minutes of Roger Rabbit, in which Richard Williams's wonderful Rabbit-POV style prefigures by many years the style and energy (but not the overly perfect lines) of Toy Story.

    Worst: anything still passing as 'animation' in kids' filler -tv, and, before that, Captain Pugwash, which even aged six I thought pathetic.

    Can't say I've seen Dougal and the Blue Cat, but can't wait now ...


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