A Thoroughly Modern Fairy Tale
AThe directors of the acclaimed special discuss the difficult task of animating Roald Dahl’s unforgettable book. By Ramin Zahed
lthough fairy-tale characters have been a familiar staple of animated TV shows and movies, we have never seen them quite as lively and modern as the ones depicted in Revolting Rhymes, a charming, CG-animated, two-part TV movie which has been showered with numerous awards since it first debuted on the BBC in the U.K. last Christmas.
Directed by Jakob Schuh and Jan Lachauer, who also worked on the acclaimed The Gruffalo and the Oscar-nominated Room on the Broom, the short is based on a book by Roald Dahl, which has lots of fun with Little Red Riding Hood, the Big Bad Wolf, Snow White and the Three Little Pigs. The project was produced by Magic Light Pictures’ Martin Pope and Michael Rose, with animation by Cape Town-based studio Triggerfish.
“When we began throwing around ideas for an adaptation, we got very excited by the notion of intertwining Dahl’s separate tales — placing them all in shared universe, each story influencing the other’s progress,” says Lachauer, “Weaving together these separate, rhymed stories without adding extra lines whilst (hopefully) adding the enjoyment of the author’s wonderful tales became a mixture of higher math and imagined conversations with old Roald Dahl.”
The team began playing around with the story in mid-2014, and the project was greenlit in early 2015 and delivered last December. More than 80 people worked on the labor-intensive project, which had to be delivered in time for Dahl’s centennial celebration. “We were tasked with working with a decisively lower price tag per minute than The Gruffalo or Room on the
One of our biggest challenges for the animation team was the scope of the world. “We have five main speaking roles, about 10 main anthropomorphic characters, and 40 overall characters,” notes Jaspaert. “These animals have bushy tails, but they are also wearing clothes. It’s also a road movie, so we travel from one place to another, so we have lots of sets. We expanded many of the book’s story elements. The Rat’s partner The Highway Rat will premiere on BBC One in the U.K. this Christmas.