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Stop-Motion from Humpty Dumpty to the Isle of Dogs

Isle of Dogs

Academy Award nominated director Wes Anderson’s newest film, ISLE OF DOGS, is a stop motion animation adventure that the critics are raving about. Variety says, “Say ISLE OF DOGS fast and it comes out sounding an awful lot like ‘I Love Dogs’ – which makes sense, since that’s pretty much the chief takeaway from Wes Anderson’s delightful new animated feature.” And Vanity Fair raves, “ISLE OF DOGS is basically a fizzy, ornately mounted assembly of quirks and barks, the sheer artistry displayed… is so expertly accomplished, and so clearly fueled by love, that you can’t help but grin.”

Best known for his work on films such as THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, FANTASTIC MR. FOX (another stop motion film) and MOONRISE KINGDOM, his newest work is something entirely of its own, and is reminiscent of acclaimed animated filmmakers such as Hayao Miyazaki (SPIRITED AWAY, HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE).

Traditional animation, as in the films of Miyazaki, is an incredibly intricate process, but stop motion is even more of an undertaking, as it takes still frames of its subjects, and manipulates them very slightly between each shot to eventually create the illusion of movement.

Flip book as an example of Still Frames or Stop Motion
Flip book as an example of Still Frames or Stop Motion

One incredibly simplified example of stop motion would be a flip book:

..but stop-motion is essentially an open ended creative realm, allowing filmmakers and artists to manipulate anything from clay figures to inanimate objects into a living, breathing story.

Stop motion has been around for over a century, and the first stop motion film was created in 1898, entitled The Humpty Dumpty Circus.


Humpty Dumpty Circus
Humpty Dumpty Circus

Since then, stop motion has rapidly evolved, and been utilized all across the film industry- primarily in family friendly films. Some of the most popular stop motion films include The Nightmare Before Christmas, Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, and Chicken Run.

Check out this incredible look at the making of ISLE OF DOGS: 

View the trailer:

An article from examines the history of stop motion, and says, “Despite its costly nature and time consuming practice, stop-motion’s ability to create characters and settings that are artificial yet wholly identifiable has inspired auteurs to experiment with its charms. With the help of critics, award ceremonies and audiences’ shared willingness to follow such directors down their stop-motion features’ uncanny valley, the medium still has hope yet to transcend its marginalization in mainstream film culture.”

About the film: 

Iconic director Wes Anderson’s ISLE OF DOGS follows Atari, a 12-year-old ward to corrupt Mayor Kobayashi. When, by Executive Decree, all the city’s canine pets are exiled to a vast garbage-dump called Trash Island, Atari sets off alone across the river in search of his bodyguard-dog, Spots. There, with the assistance of a pack of newly-found mongrel friends, he begins an epic journey that will decide the fate and future of the entire Prefecture. Starring the voice talents of Scarlett Johansson, Greta Gerwig and Bryan Cranston.

ISLE OF DOGS opens 3/23 at Angelika Mosaic, and 3/28 at Angelika Dallas and Angelika Carmel Mountain.