A Grand Night In: The Story of Aardman was a special BBC1 documentary created to celebrate Aardman's 40th anniversary. Narrated by Julie Walters, it gives the opportunity for all to truly appreciate the multi award-winning work which has spanned across TV, film and advertising. It wouldn't be complete without the input of Wallace and Gromit who are supposedly watching this documentary alongside us. It also looks into characters such as Shaun the Sheep, Morph and Creature Comforts.
The documentary is short but sweet, running only for 60 minutes, it hosts many snippets of interviews from A-list Aardman fans whether they have provided their voices for characters or are just fans like us. These include the likes of: Martin Freeman, David Tennant, Bill Nighy, Terry Gilliam, Omid Djalili, Matt Groening, John Lassiter, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Timothy Spall and Hugh Grant.
A Grand Night In dives headfirst into what is today considered to be a British success story. Aardman are considered a world leader in animation, producing films using the traditional stop motion and claymation techniques before dabbling in CGI. This documentary gives viewers an opportunity to take a peek behind the scenes of some of the nations much loved stories.
|Still from the Aardman Movie Chicken Run|
You can always see the love, care and attention that Aardman put into all of their work, including this documentary. It gives us a rare but welcome look into their past right from the very beginning with their original hand drawn animation tests followed by their success with Morph, even explaining how Nick Park was added to the team. Its such a wholesome documentary that it really is hard to fault.
It is also really lovely to hear from Peter Lord, Nick Parks, David Sproxton talk about the company with such love and passion. They talk about so many features and aspects of their history and involvement with the company yet still seem so enthusiastic and dedicated after all these years. These three men are truly inspirational, not just in the animation industry or film industry but for everyone. Without their love and dedication, Aardman would not exist today and that would truly be a shame.
It's heartbreaking to see them relive the night, 10th October 2005, when their warehouse burnt down, destroying a huge chunk of their history. Thankfully it was only history that was destroyed and not any current pieces of work. They could have given up there and then but they persevered and began making other wonderful animated films such as Flushed Away (2006), Arthur Christmas (2011), The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! (2012) and TV shorts like A matter of Loaf and Death (2008).
|Still from Aardman's movie Arthur Christmas|
Each piece they have created deserves so much more screen time and recognition for the work they have done but each piece is lightly touched upon and given its own time to shine, no matter how short.
It is clear to see that Aardman co-founders David Sproxton and Peter Lord are ‘over the moon’ to be celebrating such a large milestone. Even Nick Park seems truly humble yet ecstatic about the work they have created over the years.
|Movie poster for Aardman's film Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit|
You can tell that Aardman have truly touched the hearts of all, when even the likes of Matt Groening (creator of The Simpsons) and John Lassiter (nowadays known as the chief creative Officer of Pixar animation studios, Walt Disney Animation Studios and DisneyToon Studios, as well as the principal creative advisor for Walt Disney Imagineering) bow down to Aardman and the success they have achieved by showing their love and adoration on-screen during this documentary.
Fitting 40 creative years into just a 60 minute documentary would seem hard for most, but Aardman use their British humour, wit and charm to their advantage. With carefully chosen snippets from all of their work, it brings a sense of warmth and emotional connection to us as we remember the first time we watched them. Aardman’s work also fills us with awe and wonder as we are often left reeling in their cinematic masterpieces. Their work and dedication to animation has helped pave the way for aspiring animators and cartoon artists alike in today's world. Without Aardman, the world would quite simply be a duller place.