A Grand Night In: The Story of Aardman
For over 45 years, Aardman Animation studios have produced the most fantastic stop motion clay - or plasticine - animation films ever. They introduced the world to their Bristol brand of stiff upper lip and tongue in cheek British humor through their beloved characters, including Morph, Wallace and Grommit, Shaun the Sheep, Timmy the lamb among others. Aardman movies are extremely popular and consistent critic top picks and win many awards, including nine Oscar nominations and winning a record-breaking three Academy Awards.
Their critical success has translated into box office success, with their movies collectively earning a whopping $1.1 billion worldwide.
In the early 70s, Aardman founders Peter Lord and David Sproxton animated short interstitial sequences and features for "Vision On," a BBC series for deaf children. They then created their first character, Morph, a brown, sculpted Gumby-like character that eventually had his own successful tv series. From the mid-70s to the end of the 80s, Aardman was busy producing other BBC sequences, animating commercials and even music videos. Their work for the iconic video for 1987 Peter Gabriel hit "Sledgehammer" won a record nine MTV Video Music Awards - still the highest number of awards ever won by a music video.
Towards the late 80s, they met Nick Park, a young animator finishing a student film about a quintessentially naive, slightly clueless, cheese obsessed British everyday man and inventor named Wallace and his smart as a whip dog Grommit. Lord and Sproxton helped him finish the film, while Park became their new animator.
In 1989, two Aardman animated shorts directed by their recruit Park, namely "Creature Comforts" and "Wallace and Grommit: A Grand Day Out", were both nominated for Academy Awards, with "Creature Comforts" taking home the prize. Two more Wallace and Grommit shorts, "The Wrong Trousers" (1993) and "A Close Shave" (1995), also won Oscars.
From 1997 to 2007, Aardman partnered up with DreamWorks Animation. The movie "Chicken Run" was released in 2000 and is still the most successful stop motion animated film ever made. Another Oscar and box-office winning movie followed in 2005: "Wallace and Gromit's The Curse of the Were-Rabbit" and then "Flushed Away," Aardman's first feature foray into computer animation.
For the last 16 years, Aardman has made more movies, including "Arthur Christmas" in 2011, "The Pirates!" in 2012 (Oscar-nominated feature), "Early Man" (2018) and the tv shows "Timmy Time," a spin-off from the worldwide tv hit "Shaun the Sheep." Shaun also has two Oscar-nominated feature films, "Shaun the Sheep Movie"(2015) and "A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon" (2019).
During the pandemic, Aardman and Netflix also produced 2022's Oscar-nominated animated short "Robin Robin" - the first Aardman film to use felted puppets instead of clay.
Each Aardman film is a meticulously crafted visual delight. Each animator's creativity, passion, dedication, and patience are highlighted and celebrated in every frame as they breathe life into these clay figures.
What sets Aardman apart from the big animated studios is that always, with every project, the story (and humor) is key, not the marketing and merchandise.
Directed by: Richard Mears
Wallace and Gromit are my 5-year-old son's favorite characters and actually mine too.
We have watched these movies dozens of times I am always amazed at the techniques used to make these plasticine characters come alive. We love the voices too.
The world needs honest funny movies just like this .