‘A Darker Heartland: A study of Otherness, Dysfunction and the Uncanny in Aardman’s Animated Short Films’

Batkin, Jane (2020) ‘A Darker Heartland: A study of Otherness, Dysfunction and the Uncanny in Aardman’s Animated Short Films’. In: Aardman Animations: Beyond Stop Motion. Bloomsbury. ISBN UNSPECIFIED

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‘A Darker Heartland: A study of Otherness, Dysfunction and the Uncanny in Aardman’s Animated Short Films’
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Abstract

Home and belonging are familiar themes within Aardman’s animated films, with Peter Lord announcing that Wallace and Gromit remain their ‘heartland’. Here, individual identity is embedded in nostalgic national culture to form stories of hope and achievement of the everyman within an Aardman universe with which audiences have become comfortably familiar. However, a number of the studio’s animated short films, with their themes of Otherness, isolation and dysfunction, offer a startlingly dark juxtaposition to the warm, homely worlds of Aardman’s Wallace and Gromit and Creature Comforts (Nick Park, 1989). Early shorts Babylon (Peter Lord & David Sproxton, 1986) and Going Equipped (Peter Lord, 1990) depict apocalyptic fears and recollections of a life of crime. This darker oeuvre was later revisited with Steve Box’s Stage Fright in 1997 and Luis Cook’s award-winning short The Pearce Sisters, a dysfunctional story of fish and men-gutting, in 2007. These worlds reveal a nightmarish underbelly to Aardman’s more recognisable heartland. This chapter will explore these less familiar films and their surreal terrains of Otherness and isolation, where Aardman’s familiar nostalgia is contested and themes of difference, dysfunction and violence pervade the narratives. Where the familiar shifts and is forced aside, a space opens up for the Other to replace it.

Keywords:Aardman, Otherness, Animation, animated short film, stop motion, dysfunction, uncanny
Subjects:P Mass Communications and Documentation > P303 Film studies
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Film & Media > Lincoln School of Film & Media (Film)
ID Code:40059
Deposited On:05 Feb 2020 09:30

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