I am very exited that Frankenweenie is now available in Blu-ray, DVD, 3D and Digital Download. I have been anxious for my family to see the movie ever since I saw it last year. We’re planning a “Family Movie Night” for Saturday night where we’ll watch Frankenweenie together.
I have already seen the film, but I was actually pretty excited to see what bonus features the put on the Blu-ray for the movie. I admit it – I like the bonus features. Sometimes the features and extras as just as entertaining and interesting as the movie it’s self.
Normally I watch bonus features after I’ve seen the movie. I think most people do that. However this is the first time I would recommend watching the bonus features BEFORE the movie, if you haven’t already seen Frankenweenie. There is a very good reason for my odd recommendation. That is because there is a bonus feature called Miniatures in Motion; Bringing Frankenweenie to Life. This feature takes you behind the scenes of the film in a way you would never expect. There are no interviews with the voice actors and just a few comments from the Tim Burton. Most of the feature is about what went into making the movie. And let me tell you it’s unbelievable.
The feature shows you everything that needs to be done to bring one of the puppets to life. It also gives you a look into all the miniatures that were used in the film, from teeny tiny pencils to sugar covered donuts. It’s hard to fathom that all the things used in the film, both major props and background props, all took a long time to develop and create. I would love to see how they actually made the tiny tulip flowers or the itty bitty pencils the puppets used.
I learned a lot about the film in this bonus feature. Did you know that even though the film is done in black and white, the puppets and props did have a little color in them, but not the colors you would normally expect. I didn’t know that some colors don’t translate into black and white as easily as other colors. That is why the banners used on one scene were brown and yellow and not red, white and blue because red and blue don’t look as nice in black and white as brown and yellow do.
Another interesting fact is that it sometimes took and entire day to shoot TWO SECONDS of the film. Think about that – 8+ hours of work for two brief seconds. Wow! That is because there is A LOT involved in stop animation. For example, the characters pupils have to be replaced to change their expressions and even eye lids have to be added and removed so that the characters blink and come across as looking more like real people. Not only are the animators moving the characters but they also have to add things to them and take things off of them to make them appear real.
After watching that bonus feature it gave me so much more appreciation for the film and what it took to make it. Now when I watch the movie on Saturday with my family I’m going to take time to appreciate all the hard work and dedication that went into making this film.
Another bonus feature is the original Frankenweenie that was done with real people. It was interesting to see that the Frankenweenie (stop animation version) is a lot like the original, just with more characters and a bit more to the story line. Shelley Duvall (The Shining) and a very young looking Daniel Stern (Home Alone & Home Alone 2) play Victor’s parents.
I’m not happy to admit this but I thought the part of “Strange Girl” (Anne Chambers/Domino in the orignal movie) was a boy dressed up like a girl. It turns out it was Sophia Coppola. Wow!
If you have not seen Frankenweenie yet here is a brief synopsis.
Frankenweenie is the story of a young boy name Victor Frankenstein (voiced by Charlie Tahan). Victor is a quiet boy who prefers to be with his best friend, his dog Sparky, then with other children. His parents are a bit concerned that he doesn’t engage with other children and try to encourage him to get more involved.
One day at school the new science teacher informs the kids of a science fair that school will be having. Victor is excited about the prospect of competing in the science fair and asks his parents to sign the form necessary for him to participate. His parents agree, but they have one condition – he must join a sports team. Begrudgedly Victor joins the baseball team.
Victor’s first game ends in tragedy when his beloved dog Sparky is struck by a car and killed. Lost without his friend Victor hatches a plan to resurrect his best friend.
Victor is successful in bringing Sparky back to life but his happiness is short lived when things go terribly wrong…
I am not going to giveaway too much of the film. You’ll just have to pick up a copy to find out for yourself.
I enjoyed the movie. It was a bit odd seeing it in black and white but after seeing the film I think it actually gave the movie more character and pizzazz.
Even though the movie does hit upon death I think it’s still OK for young children. Just be prepared for some questions (and maybe some tears).
The only thing that I would have preferred is that in the end Sparky (the dog) was allowed to die. I wouldn’t want to give little kids hope that deceased animals can come back to life again. I think by having Sparky finally die it would have taught children that it’s OK to miss someone you love when they die, but life will go on and you will always have the memories of your special time together.
I have a lot of free printables and activities for Frankenweenie, not to mention plenty of behind the scenes stuff here on my site. I also attended the movie’s White Carpet (instead of red) premiere event and after party. Check out all the celebrities I met that night. Simply put the work Frankenweenie in my site’s search box (top of the right side bar).
In addition I have these really cool movie facts I think you might enjoy. Personally I found them very interesting. They are just more reasons why I appreciate what went into the making of this movie.
THINGS YOU NEVER KNEW ABOUT FRANKENWEENIE
Want the inside scoop on Tim Burton’s stop-motion animation, Frankenweenie? You got it! We head behind the scenes to bring you the ultimate lowdown…
SECRET #1: THE ANIMATORS VIEWED CLASSIC MONSTER MOVIES FOR RESEARCH.
“We looked at a lot of old black and white horrors to research Frankenweenie,” admits Allison Abbate. “We looked at old Frankenstein movies, especially The House Of Frankenstein and the fun monster-mash up movies. Some of the characters are inspired by various monster movies from the past. The invisible fish is obviously inspired by The Invisible Man and the Mummy Hamster is inspired by old mummy movies. It was a lot of fun to watch them again for inspiration.”
SECRET #2: AN ALLEN KEY IS USED TO CHANGE THE EXPRESSION ON THE PUPPETS’ FACES!
“If you want to change the expression on a puppet’s face, you use an Allen key in the puppet’s ear,” admits Allison Abbate. “There is a system of pulleys inside each puppet’s head and you twist the Allen key to make it smile or frown. Mr. Rzykruski is a little different. He has replacement mouths when he speaks. The bottom half of his face comes off from the nose downwards!”
SECRET #3: THE FILMMAKERS CREATED AN EXCLUSIVE SHORT FOR THE BLU-RAY RELEASE!
“We love the idea of creating fun extras for the Blu-ray release, which is why we came up with an extra short for the Frankenweenie Blu-ray,” reveals Allison Abbate. “The short film sees Victor and a dead Sparky looking at a movie they made prior to the accident. It’s a really sweet short film of them hanging out together.”
SECRET #4: FRANKENWEENIE IS NOT THE FIRST 3D BLACK AND WHITE MOVIE!
“Is this the first 3D movie in black and white?” ponders Tim Burton. “Ever in the history of movies? No, because they released The Creature From The Black Lagoon in black and white 3D. There were a few black and white movies in the 50s that were turned into 3D, but I think Frankenweenie looks really beautiful in this format. It really helps to create a feeling and an emotion.”
SECRET #5: TIM BURTON INVITED HIS HIGHSCHOOL ART TEACHER TO THE MOVIE’S PREMIERE IN LOS ANGELES!
“Some teachers really inspire you and make a huge difference in your life,” admits actress Winona Ryder, who voices Elsa van Helsing in the movie. “They stay with you forever and that’s one of the messages of the movie. I think that’s why Tim Burton invited his high school teacher to the premiere in Los Angeles. He’s 82 years old and I couldn’t wait to meet him.”
SECRET #6: THE NAMES IN THE ANIMAL CEMETERY CAME FROM THE CREW’S OLD PETS!
“When we were designing the pet cemetery, we asked everyone in the crew for the names of their pets that had passed away,” reveals Allison Abbate. “We incorporated the names into the tombstones, and then we would try to figure out who each pet belonged to. You’d hear people walk around saying, ‘Wait a minute… Were you Bob Fishy’s owner?’ The ‘Goodbye Kitty’ joke was Tim’s idea, but it’s also interesting that Sparky’s tombstone was added to the pet cemetery outside the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland during Halloween. That was really sweet to see.”
SECRET #7: THE FILM WAS ACTUALLY SHOT IN COLOR!
“Tim Burton wanted Frankenweenie to be an homage to the monster movies of the 60s, so black and white was the perfect choice,” explains executive producer, Don Hahn. “However, the movie was all shot in in color. We catch each frame in color and then we change it to black and white immediately on our computer screens. In this digital age, it’s an extra step to get it in black and white, which is funny. The chips in the cameras naturally capture everything in color – but it’s very easy to change them once we’ve got the shot.”
SECRET #8: THERE WAS A PUPPET HOSPITAL FOR ON-SET EMERGENCIES!
“The puppets are very delicate,” admits Allison Abbate. “The hands are very fragile and the fingers can only bend so many times before they need to be replaced. That’s why we set up a puppet hospital on set. The puppets get touched hundreds of thousands of times over the course of a few weeks, so parts have to be replaced every now and then. The puppet hospital was like a normal hospital in many ways because you’d see people rushing in screaming, ‘Broken neck!’ The hospital saved the day on more than a few occasions.”
SECRET #9: FOIL IS PLACED UNDERNEATH THE FEMALE PUPPETS’ DRESSES IN ORDER TO KEEP THEIR SHAPE!
“Each of the puppet’s outfits is made specifically for them,” explains Allison Abbate. “A lot of the dresses on the women are lined in foil so that when the animators move them around, you can move the fabric to a set position. It was really difficult to source the material for the clothing. It had to be to a specific scale, so it wasn’t an easy task at all!”
SECRET #10: SPARKY IS BASED ON TIM BURTON’S CHILDHOOD PET!
“When I was little, I had a dog named Pepe,” reveals Tim Burton. “Sparky is definitely inspired by him. Pepe was a mutt and he was very dear to me. He had a disease, which meant he wasn’t supposed to live very long, but he lived much longer than expected. I’ll never forget Pepe.”
SECRET #11: THEPUPPETS’ TEARS ARE MADE FROM GLYCERINE!
“Stop-motion animation is very time consuming because you have to move the puppet 24 frames for each second of film,” reveals Allison Abbate. “Even the pupils of the puppets’ eyes are moved! The animators used toothpicks to move them gently. The tears on the puppets are often made from a hard glycerin soap. It looks like the tears are wet, but they’re not.”
FRANKENWEENIE IN NUMBERS!
Number crunch with Frankenweenie as we bring together a host of fun facts on the making of the mega movie! How many months did it take to create the film? How many puppets were made for the stop-motion movie? How long were the voice sessions with the talented cast? And how many animators worked on the black and white adventure? The answers are all here…
“Frankenweenie is based on a short live action film that director Tim Burton made more than 25years ago,” reveals Frankenweenie producer, Allison Abbate. “It’s an homage to the classic horror movies that inspired Tim when he was a child.”
“The process of stop-motion animation hasn’t changed too much in the last 80 years,” adds Allison Abbate. “Animators still need to manipulate the puppets one frame at a time and literally reanimate the characters right before your eyes!”
There are 24 frames per second in a stop-motion movie like Frankenweenie. This means that the animator must stop and position the puppet 24 times in order to create one second of filmed action!
“Stop-motion is a very time consuming process,” admits Frankenweenie executive producer, Don Hahn. “In a good week, each animator produced about five seconds of finished film!”
The main character in Frankenweenie is a 10-year-old boy named Victor. He’s clever and industrious – and he’s very inspired by science.
At any given time there were up to 35 sets being used on a sound stage at 3 Mills Studios in East London. The film was produced near London’s Olympic Stadium. You could spot the studio in many of the helicopter shots at the Olympics.
“Around 500 people worked on the movie,” explains Allison Abbate. That’s everyone from voice artists to animators and producers to set builders!
“The action of the movie is set in a town called New Holland in the 1970s,” reveals Allison Abbate. “It’s a suburban community where nothing crazy usually happens – until now!”
More than 200 puppets were created for Frankenweenie!
The puppets in the movie are all various sizes, but the largest used in the film was the Turtle Monster which stood at about 3-feet tall.
“As soon as we had a completed script, it took one year – or 12 months – to prep the stages and create the puppets,” says Allison Abbate.
There were 18 Victor puppets created for the movie, as well as 15 Sparky puppets. Why so many? Well, each of the animators worked independently on different scenes – and backups were also needed in case a puppet required repair!
“We had about seven recording sessions with Charlie Tahan, who provides the voice of Victor,” reveals Allison Abbate. “Victor has the most lines in the movie, so he had more sessions than anyone else.”
“The average voice session lasted two hours – or 120 minutes,” continues Allison Abbate. “In the beginning, the sessions were longer – but in the end, they were often much shorter than that.”
The talented voice cast includes four actors who worked with Tim Burton on previous movies: Winona Ryder (Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands), Catherine O’Hara (Beetlejuice, The Nightmare Before Christmas), Martin Short (Mars Attacks) and Martin Landau (Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow).
“In total, there were about 27 animators who worked on the movie,” reveals Allison Abbate. “That includes assistants and animators who came in for short periods of time.”
There were five sets of Mr. and Mrs. Frankenstein puppets created for the movie!
Sparky was the most complicated puppet in Frankenweenie. There are more than 300 joints in his body!
Look for Frankenweenie where ever movies are sold.
*I received a free screener copy in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own unless otherwise noted.