Wallace and Gromit

From Academic Kids

Wallace and Gromit are the main characters in a series of three British animated films by Nick Park of Aardman Animations. All the characters were made from moulded plasticine on wire frames, and filmed with stop motion animation. This process is sometimes known as "claymation," because plasticine is also known as modeling clay.

Wallace is a hare-brained inventor, cheese enthusiast (especially for Wensleydale cheese) and owner of the dog Gromit who appears to be rather more intelligent than his master. Wallace being voiced by veteran actor Peter Sallis; Gromit is mute, communicating by way of eloquent facial expressions (compare: Pluto).

Most of Wallace's inventions look not unlike the designs of Rube Goldberg and Heath Robinson, and Nick Park has said of Wallace that all his inventions are designed around the principle of using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

Some of Wallace's contraptions actually are based on a real-life invention. For example, Wallace's method of getting up in the morning incorporates a bed that tips over to wake up its owner, an invention that was exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1851 by Theophilus Carter.

Contents

Characters

Wallace

Wallace lives at 62, West Wallaby Street, with his dog Gromit. He can usually be found wearing a white shirt, brown wool trousers, green knitted tank top and red tie. He loves cheese - preferably Wensleydale. The thought of Lancashire hotpot keeps him going in a crisis. A nice cup of tea or a drop of Bordeaux red for those special occasions. He reads the Morning Post, Afternoon Post, Evening Post.

He is an inveterate inventor, constantly inventing things (although not always successfully). He has a kindly nature, perhaps a little over-optimistic. Nick Park, his creator says: "He's a very self-contained figure. A very homely sort who doesn't mind the odd adventure."[1] (http://www.wallaceandgromit.com/wallace.asp)

Quotes:

  • "Chuck"
  • "Gromit! Help!"
  • "Not even Wensleydale?"
  • "Cracking toast, Gromit!"
  • "Well done! We did it!" (Even though it's usually Gromit who saves the day)
  • "No crackers, Gromit! We've forgotten the crackers!"
  • "It's the wrong trousers Gromit, and they've gone wrong!"
  • "They're techno trousers, ex-NASA, fantastic for walkies!"
  • "Everybody knows the moon is made of cheese..."
  • "Gromit, that's it! Cheese! We'll go somewhere where there's cheese!"
  • "Well I think we got away with that, eh pooch!" (cracking contraptions)

Gromit

Gromit lives with Wallace. His birthday is 12th February. He likes knitting, reading the newspaper, his alarm clock, bone, brush and framed photo of himself with Wallace. He is also very handy with electronic equipment (a grommet is a piece of electrical wiring insulation, a term Nick Park picked up from his brother, an electrician), and is sensitive, intelligent and resourceful. He doesn't express himself in words but his body language speaks volumes. Nick Park, his creator says: "We are a nation of dog-lovers and so many people have said: 'My dog looks at me just like Gromit does!'" and... "Gromit was originally the name for a cat in another story!"[2] (http://www.wallaceandgromit.com/gromit.asp)

Episodes

A series of 10 short (2½ minute) Wallace and Gromit animations entitled Cracking Contraptions has appeared on the World Wide Web and subsequently on a limited-edition Region 2 DVD. They were also broadcast on BBC One across the Christmas period in 2002. Each episode features one of Wallace's new inventions and Gromit's sceptical reaction to it.

  • The Soccamatic
  • The Tellyscope
  • The Auto Chef
  • The Snoozatron
  • The Turbo Diner
  • The Bully Proof Vest
  • The 525 Crackervac
  • A Christmas Cardomatic
  • The Snowmanotron
  • Shopper 13

The success of Aardman's 2000 movie Chicken Run means that a Wallace and Gromit movie is on the cards; in fact, the Contraption shorts were made by the new team of animators, to familiarize themselves with the characters. Its original working title was The Great Vegetable Plot, but this has been changed to Curse of the Wererabbit. Whatever the final title may be, it is set for a October 2005 release.

Park has consistently turned down requests for an ongoing television series because of the time and effort required for even a single episode.

In a list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes drawn up by the British Film Institute in 2000, voted for by industry professionals, The Wrong Trousers was placed 18th.

Video Game

In September 2003, a video game was released, entitled Wallace and Gromit in Project Zoo. This separate story sees the duo take on Feathers McGraw once more. Still obsessed with diamonds, he escapes from the penguin enclosure of West Wallaby Zoo, where he was 'imprisoned' at the end of The Wrong Trousers, and takes over the entire zoo, kidnapping young animals and forcing their parents to work for him, helping him towards his ultimate goal - turning the zoo into a diamond mine.

Wallace and Gromit, meanwhile, have adopted one of the zoo's baby polar bears, named Archie. As they go to visit the zoo to celebrate his birthday, they find the zoo closed. A quick spot of inventing back at the house, and they prepare to embark on their latest adventure. Hiding inside a giant wooden penguin, a parody of the famous Trojan horse, they infiltrate the zoo, and set about rescuing the animals and undoing Feathers' work.

Stop motion technique

The Wallace and Gromit animations were shot using the old stop motion animation technique. After detailed storyboarding, and set and plasticine model construction, the film was shot one frame at a time, moving the models of the characters slightly between to give the impression of movement in the final film. Because a second of film constitutes 24 separate frames, even a short half-hour film like A Close Shave takes a long time to animate well.

Though painstaking and time-consuming, and, with the newer advanced CGI technology, no longer popularly used for feature film special effects as it was in 1933's King Kong or Ray Harryhausen's work, stop motion remains a much-loved style of animation. This is probably very much thanks to the global success of Nick Park's Wallace and Gromit shorts and other films like The Nightmare Before Christmas in the 1990s.

As with Nick Park's previous films, the special effects achieved within the limitations of the stop motion technique were quite pioneering and ambitious. For example, consider the soap suds in the window cleaning scene, and the projectile globs of porridge in Wallace's house. There was even an explosion in one of the Cracking Contraptions shorts.

External links


Gromit also refers to a chess engine. See Gromit (chess).de:Wallace und Gromit ja:ウォレスとグルミット nl:Wallace & Gromit

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