The Advanced Art of Stop-Motion Animation: History of Stop-Motion Feature Films: Part 2
In the U.K., Cosgrove Hall Studios was making a strong name for itself in creating animated content, mostly for television. Amidst the many shows the studio produced, it scored one of its biggest hits with the stop-motion feature adaptation of The Wind in the Willows in 1983, based on Kenneth Grahame’s classic book. The film followed the book’s adventures of the characters Mole, Rat, and Badger in their attempts to rein in the wild antics of Mr. Toad. A highlight of the feature was the incredible amount of detail that was crafted into the miniature sets and puppets. Patterns for kitchen crockery and magazines were created in miniscule scale to create the atmosphere described in the original book. Each puppet was constructed in latex over delicately constructed ball-and-socket armatures, including mechanisms for very subtle facial expressions. Part of the team behind The Wind in the Willows would be the first collaboration between Peter Saunders and Ian MacKinnon, who teamed up to eventually form the world’s premier puppet-fabrication studio for countless other productions. Also part of the small animation team was Barry Purves (Figure 1.23), who would later go on to be an award-winning key player in British animation himself. The Wind in the Willows was a huge critical success and went on to win a BAFTA, an Emmy, and many other awards. A stop-motion TV series based on the film continued from 1984 to 1987, as well as a spin-off series and TV feature centered more on the adventures of Mr. Toad.