Even if you don’t know his name, you know who Brad Bird is. He’s the writer and director of The Incredibles, Ratatouille, and most recently Tomorrowland. But among film lovers and 90s children alike he’s also known for his last hand-drawn animation classic, The Iron Giant.
If you haven’t seen The Iron Giant, you should. In fact you can see it in the theaters right now! Warner Animation Group finally realized what a treasure this film is and they’re running a limited re-release. It’s a remastered version of the film with 2 deleted scenes. They’re calling it the Signature Edition. It’s also supposed to be released in HD on Blu Ray for the first time according to Bird.
The film came out in 1999 and it has the dubious honor of being one of the last really great hand-drawn animated children’s films. In fact the story is pretty interesting, it was because of the decline of hand-drawn that Brad Bird got to do so many interesting things with this film. The film was green-lit before Warner Brothers had lost about $40 million dollars on the nightmare production that was Quest for Camelot. WB was basically done with animated feature films after that and so they just stopped caring what Brad Bird was doing, allowing him to make the movie he wanted to make. Which is really fortunate for us because it ended up being fantastic.
Back to Brad Bird. He gave an interview to Collider a few days ago where he said:
“…I absolutely think that hand-drawn animation is valid and I actually hope to do one in the future with a large budget and a longer schedule than we had on Iron Giant.”
Well that’s awesome news. Maybe.
I won’t pretend to have seen Tomorrowland, a lot of people I trust told me it wasn’t worth it in the theaters and I just haven’t gotten around to it yet at home. I wouldn’t even bring it up but I really want him focused on The Incredibles 2 right now. It’s been 11 years and that was a really great film, one I’d hate to see get a poor sequel. He has a lot of work to do and last I heard he’s only 3/4 through the script. Maybe write the sequel to probably the greatest children’s movie of the decade AND THEN focus on bringing back the hand-drawn animated feature film genre, jeez man, overachiever much?
Oh and one additional thing. He casually mentions in the interview that he wants to see a hand-drawn, feature animated HORROR film. Yeah, that peaked my interest too, I have to admit.
I wonder if he’s ever seen The Page Master? They did some really amazing and terrifying hand-drawn horror in that film with the Jekyll and Hyde scene. At least it terrified me as a kid.
Also, I’d be completely remiss if I didn’t mention Looney Tunes. Between episodes like “Porky Pig: Scaredy Cat”, “Hair-Raising Hare”, and my personal favorite “Transylvania 6-5000” there were great scares when you’re 4 or 5. Also just look at the detail! The expressions are what really makes animation awesome for horror.
We could name great animators with great teams all night. How could I not mention John Kricfalusi who did a whole different kind of “horror” animation. I mean you have to admit some of those episodes of Ren and Stimpy gave you nightmares.
Well anyway, we here at Echo Base wish Brad Bird the best of luck with both of these endeavors. It would be great to see hand-drawn animation make a big comeback, but for a lot of families out there he’s got a lot to live up to. Let’s hope his pretty fantastic track record means he’ll knock this out of the park!