With ParaNorman opening in theaters today, you might think I’d be writing about an amazing stop-motion animated feature – and I am – just not that one… not yet. First, I wanted to toss a lesser known gem your way.
Toys in the Attic is a live action film with animated sequences, produced in the Czech Republic, and recently retrofitted with American actors providing the dialog. It’s a nice line-up of talent, including Joan Cusack, Cary Elwes, Forest Whitaker, and Vivian Schilling. But what’s really cool about this movie is the style of the animation. Toys in the Attic employs old school materials and techniques for the stop-motion. There’s no CGI enhancement or artificial motion blur. The results are reminiscent of the old Rankin/Bass Christmas specials, with the characters looking like a much creepier version of the Island of Misfit Toys.
Toys in the Attic has a plot vaguely similar to that of Toy Story: “When the lovely Buttercup is kidnapped by the Head of State, it is up to her friends, a teddy bear, a mechanical mouse and a marionette puppet to attempt a daring rescue across the attic.” But this film is more what Toy Story might have looked like if Jan Svankmajer had animated it instead of Pixar – the kind of thing that might make a twelve-year-old version of yourself hide under the covers with a flashlight.
Toys in the Attic was written and directed by Jiri Barta and Vivian Schilling, and opens to a limited theatrical release on September 7. From the press release: “Set in a magical world of toys and knick-knacks stored in the attic of a home in Prague, this award-winning stop-motion animated feature has been called “An animation masterpiece” (Anima Basuari), and “a diabolically inventive tale that is four parts Toy Story and one part Tim Burton (New York International Children’s Film Festival).
The setting for the film was inspired by the cultural and political contrast of the Cold War era and its impact on director Jiri Barta and the Czech Republic. The world of the attic is divided into the land of happy toys in the West and the Land of Evil in the East. The despotic Head of State rules over the Land of Evil with a band of sinister minions, insects and rotted vegetables. When the lovely Buttercup (Vivian Schilling) is kidnapped and held prisoner by The Head (Jiri Labus, with voice by Douglas Urbanski), it is up to her friends – a teddy bear (Forest Whitaker), a mechanical mouse (Joan Cusack) and marionette puppet (Cary Elwes) to cross the international boundary and attempt their daring rescue.
“Toys in the Attic” is a meticulously crafted visual feast, combining multiple forms of animation into an enchanting and fantastic adventure for the entire family.”
Be sure to check out the trailer below.
Dave_P studied fine arts and film history and is a graphic and web designer, and a diehard movie fan. David has been involved with a variety film festivals including the Cinephile Film Festival, the PRIDE Film festival, and the Manhattan Short Film festival, and is currently the director of the Dark Carnival Film Fest in Bloomington, Indiana. (www.darkcarnivalfilmfest.com)