If you’ve ever looked forlornly up to the ceiling as your child watches a Bob the Builder or Wiggles video for the umpteenth time, then I’ve got great news for you. There is entertainment out there that will actually entertain not just your child, but you too! I’m speaking of Nick Parks brilliant claymation creation: Wallace & Gromit.
The Wallace & Gromit video which I’ve linked to here is an absolutely brilliant piece of children’s entertainment: by turns sly, witty, silly and just plain damn funny. Wallace is one of those brilliant and totally eccentric inventors that the British have made famous over the centuries. In each episode he creates a new contraption that both gives ease to Wallace and Gromit, but which also wreaks havoc in their lives. I especially like A Close Shave about a bulldog who coerces his mother into helping him rustle sheep. The scene in which the sheep are shorn and shaved and turned into wool by Wallace’s ShavOmatic machine is hilarious. Likewise, the scene in The Wrong Trousers in which Wallace, Gromit and the penguin burglar pursue each other in speeding toy train cars is priceless.
AtomFilms.com provides a wonderful short film, Creature Comforts, which takes a sociological documentary approach to animals in the zoo. What’s hilarious about it is the animals speak with a cockney accent! Apologies for the greasy McDonald’s commercial you’ll have to watch on the video display before the short film begins.
The stop action animation process which Parks uses to create this ravishing series is painstaking and revelatory. Each movement a character makes is broken down into scores or hundreds of individual stop action photographs. When you string them all together, you have a convincing character portrayal.
If you don’t know about Wallace & Gromit you owe it to yourself and your children to give this a shot.