Animation

Itchy foot, generous flukes

BEST friends forever. The hump-backed whale and the snail. Image courtesy variety.com

YOU’RE NEVER TOO small for great big adventures, is one of the empowering messages in Max Lang and Daniel Snaddon’s completely gorgeous animation, The Snail and the Whale, recently released on Showmax. But more than just a lovely story with a lump-in-the-throat truism as its moral, it’s a piece of animation handled with wisdom and limits, with fierceness and adventure and with the kind of wow-infused possibilities that will give you – and your child – goosebumps.

With a mix between the powerful literacy in EB White’s Charlotte’s Web and the inestimable values of kindness embedded in Aesop’s fable of the mouse and the lion, The Snail and the Whale is very much a myth for young people of today. Not only about the value of having dreams and friends who look different to you, it’s about saving creatures and paying attention to things that contain a nugget of mystery and poetry in the universe.

It’s a delightful tale about a snail with a yen for adventure and a hump-backed whale who can make it all happen, but the road has curves in it that are sometimes scary, and embrace warnings that you can lose your footing even if you take very good care.

This 27-minute-long gem of beautiful, seamless animation is funny and bold; the flukes of the whale’s tail carbuncled and generous and even though the sharks get a stereotypical bad rap, the work is replete with rhyming couplets and strong and magnificent attention to detail that is both easy on the eye and sophisticated enough for grown-ups, giving that little snail with an itchy foot personality that is bold and playful, earnest and innovative and above all, brave and cute.

Awarded the prestigious Annie Award for animation film brilliance, in Los Angeles a few days ago, the work attests to intelligence in an industry that remains dangerously filled with possibility. In an ever-advancing technological field, the toolbox is enormous, and animation can overreach itself and lose its point quickly. The Snail and the Whale’s team, armed with the skill of never letting the magic down, has yielded a true children’s classic.

  • The Snail and the Whale (2021) is directed by Max Lang and Daniel Snaddon and features a cast headed by William Barber, Arnold Brown, Rob Brydon, David Cummings, Charlotte Davis-Black, Emmy Dowers, Sally Hawkins, Max Lang, Cariad Lloyd, Dianna Rigg, Emma Tate and Mia Wilks. Written by Max Lang and Suzanne Lang, based on the eponymous book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, it is produced by Martin Pope, Michael Rose and Magic Light Pictures, and features creative input by René Aubry (music), Karen Lindsay-Stewart (casting), Daniel Clarke (production design) and Triggerfish (animation). It is available on ShowMax.  

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