Thursday, April 21, 2016

The OTHER Thing About the New "Jungle Book"

You search on-line, you see reference after reference about the 2016 The Jungle Book being a live-action remake of the '67 classic.

Live Action.

Which is, let's say this forthrightly, a tad confusing, since 93.5% of the picture is animated. In exactly the same way that Toy Story or Pinocchio (using an older technology) were animated.

But of course, the storyboards were executed by live-action artists, every character except Mowgli was created in the same way that animals in Zootopia were brought to life. And the jungles and the temples and the flowing rivers? ALSO created inside a computer. ...

I was at a signator studio today and ran into a high profile animation director who has a long track reord in feature animation. We fell into a long hallway discussion, and the director is as perplexed as I am.

"What makes The Jungle Book live action? Subject matter? That it's a "family picture"? Was Avatar live action because it had violence and wasn't made for little kids? Why is a production designer for Gravity thought of as being part of a live action movie but not the production designer for Zootopia? Why aren't they up for the same awards? The pictures are made the same way, with some of the same people.

Animated features and live action are merging together. But animation gets stuck in its own separate box. ...

I told the director I thought the divisions were artificial and political. As the Washington Post noted, live action continues to have more political leverage at awards time:

... Disney/Pixar’s animated “Inside Out” — clearly one of the best eight films of 2015 — did not receive a best picture Oscar nomination. Yet a film like 2013’s “Gravity,” which relied heavily on digital pre-visualization and animation, did receive a best picture nod.

As the line grows ever blurrier for those charged with drawing such categorical demarcations, one thing is clear: “The Jungle Book” looks to meet all the Academy’s eligibility requirements for competing as an animated feature — from permitted technology to a majority of key characters being animated.

It’s unclear whether Disney wants to test those waters. But when “Jungle Book” animators can digitally paint water that looks more realistic than actual water itself, then nothing seems beyond the bounds of the studio’s imagination. ...

As long as I've been in and around the animation biz, the reality has been the same: Animation is cordoned off in its own special ghetto, the bastard child of the motion picture industry, the raggedy ass second-class citizen, even as it rakes in large profits. This is why you will never, ever see an animated feature win the "Best Picture" Oscar, even as an animated feature, conveniently labeled "live action" because there's a sprinkling of flesh-and-blood actors in parts of it, does.

As stated previously, 2016's The Jungle Book is an animated remake of the animated original, released 49 years ago.

Add On: And here is yet another article calling The Jungle Book a "live-action remake." One more media outlet drinks the Kool-Aid.


Unknown said...

This is why I get frustrated with the "best animated feature" award....hate that it's ghettoized. But I do understand, and appreciate it.

That said, the new Jungle Book is terrific. VAST improvement over the cartoon version (as much as I liked it as a little kid) as an overall film, with stronger characters, more delineated world, and tighter plotting. King Louie (and his song) in particular are just great. And the kid is an amazing little actor.

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