Animator Paul Berry Passes Away

Remembered by Barry Purves

It is with such sadness that I write a few lines about my colorful friend and colleague Paul Berry. He died on Tuesday, 26th June, in Manchester, with his partner Graham, and his sister Denise, at his bedside. He had been ill since February with a brain tumor. That he should die at 40 is such a tragedy; that he should die with so much more brilliant work ahead of him is a loss to those who were not fortunate enough to know him. I had known Paul for nearly twenty years, and though our careers followed similar paths, we never actually worked my great regret. Paul joined Cosgrove Hall in Manchester around 1983, animating Mr. Toad, amongst other characters, in THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS. Even then Pauls amazing skill was clear. Every action with the puppets was clear, and full of character and meaning. Other films he worked on there were THE FOOL OF THE WORLD, THE FLYING SHIP, TRUCKERS and NODDY. In 1992, he made THE SANDMAN with Ian Mackinnon and Colin Batty. This film really made the world take notice. Not just because it won so many awards, including an Oscar nomination, and not just because it took animation into new and darker realms, but because here was a standard of animation that really had not been seen before. It was not surprising that Paul was taken to America to work on NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, and subsequently JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH and MONKEY BONE, as well as dozens of brilliant commercials. The standards he set in his own animation on these films, and in his direction of others, were an inspiration to his crew and fellow animators. His characters were clear, precise, eccentric, funny, dark, and very, very credible...knocking for six any hint of cute 'n cuddly and bland often associated with some animation. The fluidity of his animation betrayed little sign of his tremendous technique...his puppets just lived, and will happily continue to live, inspiring new audiences, and inspiring new animators with the skill. Seldom has anyone achieved such standards and such respect from colleagues.

Paul's death is an enormous loss to so many. His caustic wit, his energy, his love of the dark and bizarre, his generosity, his infectious cackle, and his red hair will be so tremendously missed.

Thank you Paul.