Analyse Nick Parks’ “A Close Shave” Essay Example
Analyse Nick Parks’ “A Close Shave” Essay Example

Analyse Nick Parks’ “A Close Shave” Essay Example

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The Oscar winning film "A Close Shave", a creation of Aardman Productions and produced by Nick Parks, has universal appeal. It is unique in it's genre, displaying a wide range of different types of genre at different points in the film. It combines a variety of cinematographic and animation techniques.

The characters in the film are merely lumps of clay, but the audience can believe they are real people and animals with real feelings. At the same time they are like cartoon characters, in a world where the impossible is not only possible but believable. The film is a comedy adventure, however there are elements of other genres also.For instance, near the beginning of the film when we are first introduced to Preston we see that he is fairly gangster-like.

There are elements of a thriller genre, sh


own in Preston's mannerisms and behaviour, for example in his reaction to Shaun's escape, the eyes in the mirror appear very threatening. "A Close Shave" also displays elements of a romantic genre in the way Wallace and Wendolene respond to one another. This genre is apparent in the touching of their hands whilst picking up the wool and the way they react to this, it shows there is an obvious romantic connection between them.A Close Shave" appeals to a wide audience. It is, as said in the BBC "Omnibus" documentary, "a world to which old and young can relate", which suggests that the audience is diverse and that the film appeals to many different types of audience.

Cinematographic style is very important in "A Close Shave's" wide appeal. The techniques used are important in defining the characteristics and

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genre of the film. Such styles and techniques are denotation, connatation and representation throughout the film. For example, in the way Preston is presented.

In the opening scene we see him wearing a hat and collar with spikes on.These help to denote gangsters to us and we feel a sense of skullduggery in the way he is portrayed. There are also connotations of evil and brutality in the way he is seen and his behaviour in that opening scene. At the end however, there is a clear comparison. In the closing scene Preston is on all fours with bandages round him which to denote to us that he is now law-abiding and obedient with connotations of good and friendliness.

This clearly helps us to see the comparison between Preston, the way he was and the way he is now. It also sets an atmosphere or genre for the scene.Parks leads the audience to a series of experiences through his manipulation of narrative space. There are a number of characteristics to "A Close Shave" which help in appealing to a wide audience. The type of camera movement and the mixture of shots he uses can help convey to the audience the atmoshpere he is trying to set.

We get an insight into the character's thoughts and feelings through their facial expressions and movements. Also the camera movements can be varied depending on the scene and help to keep the audience interested, making sure the atmosphere is exciting an that of an action drama.For example, the chase between Preston and Wallace is shown in part from the air which helps to convey the excitement of the chase.

Another characteristic of the film is the way it is edited, as it makes the plot development clearer. Parks also combines the setting, costumes, action, lighting, characters and imagery to create simultaneously a mixture of reality and fantasy. The mise en scene of the film is what causes the audience to feel that the events and characters are real.

As said in the BBC "Omnibus" Documentary, it is ""closer to live action than to cartoons and traditional animation".This is also down to the more daring camera work used by Parks, as we can see in the scene where Gromit flys after Preston, and also in greater set detail such as Wallace's house and Wendolene's wool shop. The characters in "A Close Shave" appear to be real people. Even though the are just pieces of animated clay, they are presented as anthropomorphic entities to the audience.

Wallace and Wendolene are perceived as ordinary people in an ordinary world. This is emphasised by a number of things, such as the way they talk to each other and the set they are in.It is shown greatly through their facial expressions and idiosynchrasies. The audience sometimes listens to what is said and sometimes perceives meaning through their expressions and gestures. Cinematographic style is also important in their characterisation.

A good example of this is in Wendolene's wool shop when their hands meet. There is a close up on the hands meeting, making that the sole focus of the shot. Facial expressions are also important in conveying their reaction to the audience, showing their embarassment and akwardness.This also helps the audience to understand their thoughts and feeling, making the characters

seem more human. The animals are also anthropomorphic in various ways. This is shown in their reactions, their behaviour and also their personalities.

For example, the way Preston is threatening, Gromit's innocence and Shaun's timidity. These are human characteristics, making the animals appear more human to the audience. Also, their expressions are anthropomorphic, this is shown in the scene where Shaun is in Wallace's house whilst Wallace and Gromit are unaware of it.Gromit sees the eaten leaves and his facial expression shows his puzzlemant and he appears baffled which is a very human expression. The animals can't talk but their feelings are clearly conveyed to the audience through the cinematographic techniques used by Parks. The extent to which the animal characters take on human characteristics gives them the status of equality with Wallace and Wendolene.

Another important characteristic in making the film believable is the dialogue and the way the characters communicate with one another.There is a realism in the Yorkshire accent and dialect spoken by Wallace and Wendolene, it helps make the characters more like actual people and is reinforced by the setting which is also typical of Yorkshire. Wendolene uses words such as "chuck" which are specific to Yorkshire dialect, this further helps the audience to believe the characters are real people and feel the film is altogether more like real life. The animals in "A Close Shave" communicate using paralinguistics, and expression and gesture are important in giving the animals anthropomorphic characteristics.

Parks conveys the feelings and meanings of them very well without using words. Therefore the animals, while always remaining sheep or dogs, are perceived as human beings in many ways. The

various types of humour in "A Close Shave" are integral to it's wide appeal. The humour appeals to an audience of different ages, emotional tastes and intellectual levels. The humour is diverse, and their are many different aspects which focus on the entire audience. The humour is present throughout the film and is shown in a number of ways.

The humourous facial expressions of the animals appeal to many people.For example when Wallace is trying to reassure Shaun about his knitting machine he says "We've tested it on Gromit" and Gromit's facial expression in response to this is seen as comical. Also, many of the expressions are exaggerated to make them more humourous. The way the characters interact through mannerisms and speech is also sometimes humourous. The audience finds it funny when, in the wool shop, Wallace and Wendolene have a meeting of minds and emotions.

The fact that they operate as human beings when they are merely lumps of clay which cannot fall in love. The dialogue itself is also very funny at times.For example, when, just after Gromit's escape, Wallace says, "You'll be hunted down... like a dog.

" Or when he finds Shaun, "No need to be sheepish. " The written word is also important in creating humour, in headlines such as "Sheep dog trial continues" which is a play on words, in the sign on the blocked off road that Gromit reads after falling off the edge of the cliff saying "Danger! 2000ft drop", and also in the title and author of the book Gromit is reading in jail; "Crime and Punishment by Fido Dogstoevesky". There is also an aspect of

slapstick comedy in the film which appeals to certain kinds of audience.We see this in cases such a Wallace's bad luck with the porridge gun as he eventually becomes stuck to the wall. Also humourous, is the fantasy aspect to parts of the film, for instance, in the chase scene when the motorbike sidecar turns into a plane and the propeller becomes a drill, and the use of victory music emphasises the humour. The props and machinery in the film also appear funny to the audience.

Wallace's inventions are like Heath Robinson machines, such as the porridge gun, the dressing machine and the motorbike. These humour strategies also add to the overall mise en scene of the film.The humour operates at different levels, reflecting a breadth of audience, old and young. In conclusion, the film uses a diversity of techniques which all help add to it's universal appeal and create it's multi-dimensial character. It mixes a range of fantasy characteristics with strands of realism which makes the film more believable than typical cartoons or animations.

This is helped through a number of cinematographic techniques. Although the audience perceives it to be like a real film, there are still cartoon moments which makes "A Close Shave" unique in it's genre and style.

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