By Nina J P Evans

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Gruffalo

“A mouse took a stroll through the deep dark wood…” Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s bestselling ode to imagination and self-belief.

This is a wonderfully animated adaptation of The Gruffalo. Using CGI to marvelous effect. I love the way that the CGI characters have captured the original illustrated expressions by Axel Sheffler perfectly (as seen below) all eyes wide with smiling suggestions. The transformation from the original illustrations to the CGI animation is a challenging one. There is much loyalty and care in the way that the character’s personality and the illustrative designs are adapted into CGI. The characteristics are absolutely spot on, creating an interchangeable experience from book to film and vice versa. It’s nice to think that children seeing the animation before the book, will be thrilled and inspired at seeing the book and very likely reading it, from memory and picture association; before they can actually read the text for real. Having watched the DVD just a few times.

Where I think the animation supersedes the book is in the making of the deep dark wood, it is a much richer visually engaging setting there is no white space to be seen. The story connectivity is enhanced quite dramatically making the adventure more seamlessly and fun. It fondly reminded me of The Gingerbread Man as this story is also rhyming, but there’s a clever subtle variety within that repetition which both surprises and delights—flowing with RenĂ© Aubry’s understated orchestral score. Seen as a whole it’s just good knockabout comedic japery. I really liked the changing of perspectives from very large to very small viewpoints allowing both the mouse and the Gruffalo to be seen with equal significance… full screen. The voice-overs are excellent too it is so well cast! I especially liked James Corden’s voice as The Gruffalo. All that said, books can be more personal, holding them in your hands turning the pages at your leisure, discussing the story and illustrations maybe customizing them by writing notes on the inside cover—reading stories to children triggers their imagination.

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