Thursday, February 01, 2007

Nick Park: Free at Last

The five-film deal between Dreamworks in Hollywood and Aardman Animations in Bristol has ended after only three films. Aardman's claymation epics - notably Flushed Away and The Curse of the Were-Rabbit - didn't do well enough in America. Four Oscars don't, in the event, mean that much at the Box Office. This is good news; that deal should never have been done. The presiding genius of Aardman - Nick Park, I interviewed him in 2003 - has less in common with Los Angeles than any man I have ever met. Park is English, impenetrably so to foreigners. Self-deprecating to the point of neurosis, he doesn't play the cheap, self-hyping publicity game. After a fire that destroyed an Aardman warehouse in Bristol, he said, 'In the light of other tragedies, it's not a big deal.' On the TV news you are supposed to weep and wail; not Park, he has perspective. Like the great Tommy Cooper, he does not have to try to be funny, he just is profoundly funny. The short Creature Comforts films were masterpieces of poignant, humane comedy - see my theory about them in the article. Without Hollywood on his back, he will - I hope - be free again. My dear, departed friend Auberon Waugh used to say you shouldn't sign anything put in front of you by an American lawyer. I wouldn't necessarily go that far but Bron, like Park, was a wistful, dreaming English genius and, perhaps, for them, this is the right advice. Such people are a diminishing resource, we should pass legislation to protect them from ever having to sign anything.


  1. I'm glad. Dreamworks possibly thought of it as stuffy, old-fashioned and when it came to the accents - quite 'ard t' un'stand! But Aardman is thankfully British through and through. In the end the whole thing was slowly aiming purely for an American audience and that was a shame.

  2. "Wallace and Gromit" was a huge hit here and way back when, we bought the box set. Somehow, "Curse of the Were-Rabbit" didn't seem as well done to me -- even though it was a feature film -- and "Flushed Away" I've yet to see (though I must because BILL NIGHY's voice is in it!)

    Surely it's as mystifying to determine what makes a hit in Britain as it is here. Some stuff scores, some doesn't. "Trainspotting," for example, was a huge hit, and it was *really* hard to understand those British accents.