one sign The Bad Guys at Dreamworks, the other left Pixar to gain freedom and is going out Icarusan independent film: two directors prove on the screens that when it comes to animation, the “French touch” has not said its last word.
Chases in “muscle car” in the streets of Los Angeles, nods to pulp Fiction Where Ocean’s Eleven… The Bad Guysin theaters on Wednesday April 6, is a pure Hollywood product but also the very first feature film from the American studio of Shrek Where kung fu panda entirely made by a Frenchman.
On the screen, a band of animals with the reputation of “bad guys” (a wolf, a snake, a shark, a tarantula and a piranha), united in the crime and wanted by all the policemen of the city. Arrested after trying too many times, the gang makes a deal with the authorities: to become “nice” to avoid prison. Or at least pretend.
“The film is a tribute to American cinema and to Los Angeles, a city I fell in love with,” explains director Pierre Perifel to AFP, trained at the Gobelins school in Paris, before making a career in the studio co-founded by Steven Spielberg, which he joined fifteen years ago. After working as a character animator on three installments of kung fu panda and other movies like Shrek 4, he signs with The Bad Guys his first solo feature film in the studio, which is teeming with French creators.
France, ranked third in the world in animation production, has often shone with its independent nuggets, Triplets of Belleville at my zucchini life Passing by Kirikou, but its creators are also at the origin of successes like the saga Me, Despicable Me.
The country “has had a huge culture of animated films and comics for a long time, mixed with the Japanese influence, which arrived much earlier than in the United States”, to analyse Pierre Perifel. This culture “interested Dreamworks to do something different”.
The graphic rendering of the film, a mixture of 2D and 3D reminiscent of comics or illustration, deliberately breaks with the race for realism in which most mainstream animation studios are engaged. “There is really a kind of French desire to seek out styles, influences, to push things (…) even if on big films, blockbusters, we cannot push things to a point where the public will not understand”, he acknowledges.
A reflection that could be shared by Carlo Vogele, Luxembourg director who grew up in France and also studied at Les Gobelins, one of the most highly rated schools in the world of animation, before releasing, on March 30, Icarus. The film totally revisits ancient mythology for a journey alongside the young Icarus, who will befriend the Minotaur.
The only point in common with the Bad Guysan aesthetic that borrows from comics, with a successful mix of 2D and 3D animation. “I worked for eight years at Pixar, with a specific job: animating characters”tells the director to AFP. “Even if they make nuggets of mainstream animation, blockbusters with a storytelling [façon de raconter les histoires] amazing, I wanted to do the opposite with Icarus.”
“Realism” to which the big American productions claim “I’m not interested, I was looking for something stylish, beautiful”, he explains. Before laughing: “Anyway, we didn’t have the budget for technical prowess!”
Not to mention the issue “philosophical” for those who no longer wanted to work for the Disney juggernaut, parent company of Pixar. And who considers that France, which trains more than a thousand professionals in the sector each year, remains “an unrivaled talent pool”.