Friday, 2 December 2011

Movie Review - Who Framed Roger Rabbit

The director, Robert Zemeckis has created 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' as a parody of the Film Noir genre shown in it's characters and the real world of the film. The plot is also typically noir because it includes the detective element through in the character Eddie Valiant. “...the camera follows Roger from the brightly coloured cartoon set into the real world of 1947 Hollywood, making this transition with the supreme ease that is this film's greatest achievement. However wildly inventive the Toon-human interchanges become, they are executed with the utmost sang-froid.” (Maslin, 1988) All costumes and sets had to have a typical 40's feel to make the world for the film feel right for the film noir atmosphere that it wanted to imitate. Also typically lighting and camera techniques such as the use of exaggerated shadows were used to make the connection with the genre.The animated characters also had to fit the real world so were portrayed differently in the 1947 world of the film, given a three dimension quality through shading so that they wouldn't feel flat compared to the human characters. These rules were reversed in the 'Toon Town' universe where the animated characters could once again become the flat - like characters the audiences would except in a cartoon universe. The colours also became much more vibrant and bold to create the sense of a completely different world compared to the film noir approach used in the human world.

Figure 1, (2011), Mixture of human and toon characters

There was a political agreement that Zemeckis had to address with Warner Bros and Disney, to make each sets of characters equal and not making one character from one particular corporation seem more important than the other. “The combination detective noir story, slightly adult humour, crazy toon characters from both Warner & Disney's vaults (a one-off which is unlikely to ever repeat) and overall technical wizardy yielded a film which set a precedent.” (Franklin, 2010) Figure 2 shows one particular point where Warner and Disney share the stage as Valiant plummets to the ground, Mickey and Bugs Bunny fall beside him at opposite ends to create perfect symmetry of space taken up by each character. Another example of this is the scene where Donald and Daffy Duck are trying to play the piano in the nightclub, both characters try to outwit each other. However to keep to the idea of symmetry both characters have about the same amount of occasions to appear on screen as they both perform a series of gags to stop the other character stealing the spotlight but they don't finish. As one characters remarks in the film 'Those Ducks are very funny because they never get the chance to finish their performance' tells the viewer that this was for the purpose that one character would never be dominate and finish the performance.

Figure 2, (2010), Mickey and Bugs Bunny – Warner Bros equal to Disney

Another important feature of the animation was that it was done as a live action to get the right interaction between human and cartoon character. “Zemeckis and his team of special effects people put forth great visual effects, animation and matched it with great camera movement for the live action; they also presented the cartoon characters with a glowing 3-D effect. It was a monumental effort in technology that still doesn't seem dated.” (Schwartz, 2008) Using the 3D effect for the characters allowed them to feel present alongside the human characters to create a co-existence that could be believable to the audience. The 3-D quality also allowed the animated characters to appear to react with the real world environment so they could have that advantage in that universe and not be flawed to boundaries of an ordinary cartoon. Similarly Valiant had rules that allowed him to interact with cartoon objects such as his gun and the hammer that eventually defeats the villain 'Judge Doom'. This also allows Valiant's character to be part of the 'Toon Town' world which he is forced to go back to in search of Roger Rabbit.

Figure 3, (1988), Roger Rabbit and Valiant


Figure 1, (2011), Mixture of human and toon characters, @, Accessed on: 9th November 2011

  Figure 2, (2010), Mickey and Bugs Bunny – Warner Bros equal to Disney, @, Accessed on: 27th January 2010

Figure 3, (1988), Roger Rabbit and Valiant, @, Accessed on: 24th June 1988

Franklin Garth, (2010), Dark Horizons - Who Framed Roger Rabbit, @, Accessed on: 2010
Maslin Janet, (2003), The New York Times - Who Framed Roger Rabbit, @ Tomatoes, Accessed on: 20th May 2003
Schwartz Dennis, (2008), Ozus' World Movie Reviews - Who Framed Roger Rabbit, @, Accessed on: 9th February 2008


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