SHAUN’S AT THE MOVIES
The silence of the lambs is what makes Shaun the Sheep Movie a delight. Aardman Animations Wallace & Gromit, Arthur Christmas) have used both dialogue and CGI in their time, but they go right back to basics with this dialogue-free, stopmotion animated movie based on their wildly popular TV series.
It’s pure visual storytelling in the spirit of the silent comedies of Chaplin and Keaton.
The human characters don’t speak, instead conversing in garbled quasi-speech as used in the films of French mime and filmmaker Jacques Tati, because words would break the mood of innocent fun.
Shaun and his woolly companions don’t speak because, well, they’re sheep – though, luckily for moving the plot forward, they can read.
The premise here is that the routine of farm life under the Farmer and his dog Bitzer is wearying for Shaun and his flock.
When their plot to trick the Farmer into giving them a day off goes awry, the man ends up in hospital in The Big City suffering from amnesia.
While life on the animal farm descends into Orwellian anarchy – it’s the pigs who come out on top, of course – Shaun, Bitzer and the sheep make their way into town.
Here they attract the attention of the villain of the piece, an animal containment patrolman who lords it over a high-security facility for unlucky dogs, cats, turtles and goldfish, and would love to add some livestock to his collection.
The visual gags are beautifully done. To elude detection, the animals disguise themselves as humans and it’s hard to suppress giggles during scenes set in a fancy restaurant, a hairdressing salon and an operating theatre.
The film is here for the school holidays, but it’s the foolish adult who doesn’t come along for the ride.
A scene from Sheep Movie.