Overview

Fantastic Mr. Fox is a 2009 American stop-motion animated film based on the Roald Dahl children’s novel of the same name. This story is about a fox who steals food each night from three mean and wealthy farmers.

Storyline

It is the story of one Mr. Fox and his wild-ways of hen heckling, turkey taking and cider sipping, nocturnal, instinctive adventures. He has to put his wild days behind him and do what fathers do best: be responsible. He is too rebellious. He is too wild. He is going to try “just one more raid” on the three nastiest, meanest farmers that are Boggis, Bunce and Bean. It is a tale of crossing the line of family responsibilities and midnight adventure and the friendships and awakenings of this country life that is inhabited by Fantastic Mr. Fox and his friends. Written by Cinema_Fan

Interesting facts

  • It was rumored that Cate Blanchett was originally the voice of Mrs. Fox, but was replaced by Meryl Streep. According to Wes Anderson, however, he had only spoken to Blanchett about the part around the time of filming The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, but never got further than that: “I think that was on the internet before it was really meant to be. For a long time there were versions of the cast out there that were not very accurate.”
  • The first animated film distributed by Regency Pictures, the first stop-motion animated film for 20th Century Fox, and the first animated film for Fox Searchlight Pictures since Waking Life.
  • Development began in 2004 at Revolution Studios between Wes Anderson and animation director Henry Selick, who had worked with Anderson on The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (and who had directed another stop-motion animated film based on a Roald Dahl work, James and the Giant Peach.) When Revolution folded, Selick left the project to direct Coraline, and was replaced by Mark Gustafson.
  • The look of the film was inspired by Great Missenden, a village in Buckinghamshire, England, where Roald Dahl lived and worked. The tree where the Fox family lives is based on a prominent beech tree on Dahl’s property, and Mr Fox’s study recreates in minute detail the interior of the famous garden hut in which Dahl did most of his writing.
  • Shot digitally using a Nikon D3, which offers a significantly higher resolution than even that of full High Definition. It was also shot at a frame rate of 12 frames per second, rather than the more fluid 24, so that viewers would notice the medium of stop-motion itself.
  • At one time, it was rumored that Brad Pitt would make a voice cameo appearance. During the making of the film, Wes Anderson directed Pitt in a 30-second TV advertisement for Japanese cellphone company Softbank Mobile.
  • According to Henry Selick, Wes Anderson would act out scenes while in Paris and send them to the animators via his iPhone.
  • Mr. Fox’s implanting of sleeping powder into blueberries for unsuspecting guard dogs to consume was taken from another Roald Dahl book, ‘Danny the Champion of the World’, in which raisins were used similarly on unsuspecting pheasants. When the Dahl attorneys learned of this, they wanted it removed. But because it had already been filmed, Wes Anderson pleaded with them and was able to keep it in the film.
  • The American Cathedral in Paris’s choir were hired to sing the “Boggis, Bunce and Bean” limerick. They were recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London, England, in Studio Two, which is most famous for having been where The Beatles recorded almost all of their music.
  • Wes Anderson chose to have the actors record their dialogue outside of a studio and on location to increase the naturalness: “We went out in a forest, went in an attic, went in a stable… we went underground for some things. There was a great spontaneity in the recordings because of that.”
  • Early versions of the film cast Jarvis Cocker as an on-screen narrator, which baffled test audiences. Cocker said in an interview with the Observer, “I may turn up as a DVD extra in the future.” In the theatrical cut, Cocker’s spoken (not sung) dialogue is reduced to one line.
  • In the months preceding the opening of the film, controversy arose concerning the little time that director Wes Anderson actually spent on set, choosing to direct the animation via e-mail from his flat in Paris. In an October 2009 Los Angeles Times article, cinematographer Tristan Oliver was quoted as saying, “I think he’s a little O.C.D. Contact with people disturbs him. This way, he can spend an entire day locked inside an empty room with a computer. He’s a bit like The Wizard of Oz. Behind the curtain.” Informed of Oliver’s discontent, Anderson said, “I would say that kind of crosses the line for what’s appropriate for the director of photography to say behind the director’s back while he’s working on the movie. So I don’t even want to respond to it.” On the Wes Anderson fan website The Rushmore Academy (named after Anderson’s film Rushmore,) Oliver criticized the article’s tone, stating that it made him out to be a villain: “Yes, working with Wes can be frustrating but that is true of any director and I’ve worked with a hundred who were more irritating and less motivated than Wes. So let’s just lay the ghost of this particular myth and oh, it would be nice if the death threats stopped too. Thanks.”
  • During one of the outdoor dialogue recording sessions, a best take was almost ruined by the sound of a nearby boat. Open to the randomness, Wes Anderson modified the scene in the film to include an airplane flying through the shot. Anderson said, “I think it was better with the airplane than without… a flaw in the recording gave us a new idea.”
  • Film debut of Hugo Guinness, who voices Bunce. Wes Anderson is a fan of Guinness, a British artist whose work can be seen on the walls of the Tenenbaums’ house in The Royal Tenenbaums.
  • Portions of the audio version of the book can be heard in the film. The music Bunce is listening to on headphones when Mr Fox first steals from his farm is the theme music from the audio book.
  • Film debut of chef Mario Batali, who voices Rabbit. Rabbit wears an orange neckerchief, which echoes Batali’s penchant for wearing orange shorts and Crocs. On the Fox Searchlight website for the film, there was even a recipe made available, courtesy of Batali, for Mrs. Bean’s Famous Nutmeg Ginger Apple Snaps.
  • Mr. Fox’s wardrobe was based on Wes Anderson’s own brown corduroy suits.
  • The inspiration for the naming of the character Kristofferson came from singer, songwriter and actor Kris Kristofferson, not only because both Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach are fans of his work, but also because they simply liked the name.
  • Roald Dahl’s “Fantastic Mr. Fox” was the first book Wes Anderson owned. His mother, Texas Ann Burroughs, bought it for him at the St. Francis book fair in Austin, Texas when he was about seven years old. Anderson has kept this same copy on his bookshelf ever since.
  • The human characters’ hair was actual human hair collected from studio employees at MacKinnon & Saunders, the company that manufactured the puppets for the film.
  • The character of Kylie was based on a handyman (named Kylie) who was living in Wes Anderson’s New York apartment when he purchased it from the painter Larry Rivers: “After I bought it, he continued to live there while the place was gutted, but eventually I had to ask him to move out.”
  • Marks the first appearance of The Beach Boys’ music in a Wes Anderson film. Anderson had originally thought of using their recording of “Sloop John B” for the final scene in The Royal Tenenbaums, but later changed his mind.
  • The song “Looking For A Fox” by Clarence Carter was featured in the first trailer, though it doesn’t appear in the film.
  • Throughout the film, the word “cuss” is used in place of actual cursing. When asked about its origin in a radio interview on “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross, Wes Anderson said, “I don’t even remember. It think it was just to use the concept of profanity as a replacement for profanity itself. It turned out to be very versatile.” In keeping with this theme, one of the buildings seen in the film bears “CUSS” written as spray-painted graffiti.
  • The color scheme of the movie is primarily autumnal (yellows, oranges, and browns) with virtually no green and blue. However, Kristofferson’s blue-colored wardrobe was intentional, as it emphasized his being a visiting outsider.
  • According to Meryl Streep, when she was in London filming Mamma Mia! in summer 2007, she stayed in an apartment block in central London, and one night she noticed a fox out of her bathroom window. Both Streep and the fox, stone still, stared at each other for twelve minutes. Mesmerized by this experience, she used it as inspiration for her performance.
  • The titles and text used in the production design are in Helvetica Bold. All previous Wes Anderson movies have utilized Futura Bold.
  • The song Mole plays on the piano is actually Art Tatum’s recording of the Cole Porter song “Night and Day”. The use of this recording is something of an inside joke, as Tatum was blind and moles are known for having very poor vision.
  • This is Wes Anderson’s first film that did not feature one of his signature slow motion sequences.
  • When reciting the Latin names of each animal, Mr. Fox says he doesn’t know the one for opossum. It is Didelphis virginiana.
  • Featured in the film are three songs sung by Burl Ives. Ives voiced Sam the Snowman in Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, a stop-motion animated production by Rankin-Bass that influenced the style of this film. Furthermore, all three of the songs featured in the film were first released on Ives’ 1960 album “Burl Ives Sings Little White Duck and Other Children’s Favorites”.
  • Kristofferson’s unaccompanied minor badge reads, “Name: Kristofferson Silverfox. Height: 42cm (tall – for a cub). Weight: 3.5kg. Allergies: None. Reason for travel: Ill father.”
  • Altogether, 535 puppets were made for the film. Mr. Fox had 17 different styles alone, and each of Mr. Fox’s styles had to be done in six different sizes. He has 102 puppets alone.
  • It took 7 months to perfect the very first Mr. Fox puppet.
  • The version of “Ol’ Man River” by The Beach Boys used in the film is actually a combination of two versions: the first half is taken from the 2002 rarities compilation “Hawthorne, CA: Birthplace of a Musical Legacy” (which is the version available on the “Fantastic Mr. Fox” soundtrack,) while the second half is taken from a medley entitled “Old Folks At Home/Ol’ Man River”, available on the “Friends/20/20″ two-fer.
  • During the battle in the town near the end of the film, we see the signs of several businesses. One sign, “Dutronc Detective”, is in the same shape and neon style as a well-known sign in Paris, “Deluc Detective”. As Wes Anderson directed much of the film from Paris, it is certainly possible that he saw this distinctive sign and wanted to reference it in the film. The name references Jacques Dutronc, French musician and actor.
  • Kylie’s World Traveler Titanium Card (which he lends to Mr. Fox to open a deadbolt lock) has the number “3737 321345 61008″. Valid from 10/06 to 10/10, it also gives his full name as “Kylie Sven Opossum”.
  • To protect his costume between shooting, the lower half of Ash’s body had to be wrapped in cling film.
  • The voices were recorded at a farm house in Connecticut, which was owned by a friend of director Wes Anderson. Willem Dafoe’s dialog, however, was recorded in Paris at a later date.
  • According to an interview Wes Anderson for ‘The Treatment’ with Elvis Mitchell, the look of the film was inspired by the artwork by Donald Chaffin for the original book by Roald Dahl.
  • The door in the science lab reads: “Co-ed, all species / ELEMENTARY CHEMISTRY / Grade: 6 ¾ / Miss Muskrat’s Class”.
  • To keep their contents from evaporating, the test tubes in the science lab scene were all filled with fruit jelly with a various assortment of colors.
  • The posters hanging on the walls in the science lab were all painted with translucent materials. This way, they would light up when the scene was shot.
  • Wes Anderson’s first family film. Although it still contains many of the trademarks of his live-action films, family dysfunction, colourful palettes, etc.
  • Roald Dahl allegedly fashioned Mr Fox after himself.
  • Bean has more then a passing resemblance to Roald Dahl.
  • Roald Dahl is one of Wes Anderson’s heroes.
  • Production began in London in 2007.
  • Mr Fox’s suits were modeled on the same suits that Wes Anderson wears, with the animators obtaining fabric swatches from Anderson’s tailor.
  • The original story was written at a dark time in Roald Dahl’s life. He had already lost one of his five children to measles and witnessed another one suffer from water on the brain as the result of a car accident. It was only natural that he would be spurred on to write a tale portraying the father as a protector of the family.
  • One of two films released in 2009 to feature a talking fox. The other was Lars von Trier’s controversial Antichrist. Both films feature actor ‘Willem Defoe’.
  • Premiered two days after Where the Wild Things Are. Both films are based on popular children’s books and directed by cult indie directors.
  • The launch film for the 2009 London Film Festival.
  • Felicity (Mrs Fox) was named after Roald Dahl’s widow.
  • This movie is composed of almost 56,000 shots.
  • At one point during production, Wes Anderson had 29 units all working simultaneously for him.
  • The gun held by Franklin Bean is an Artillery Luger, which is a rare German 9mm Luger produced in WWI and WWII that included an 8 inch barrel a removable stock and a 32 round drum magazine.
  • The text seen on the paper that Mr. Fox is reading (The one that contains the advertisement for bandit hats), consists of parts from Roald Dahl’s book ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’ itself.
  • The red facade of the “Little Theatre” in the scene where Mr. Fox throws burning pines is modeled after the real Little Theatre in Bath, Somerset.
  • Franklin Bean’s walkie-talkie is all but identical to the U.S. BC-611 (or SCR-536), which saw widespread use in WWII and was the first hand-held two-way radio.
  • The last film to use the 20th Century Fox logo from 1994.
  • Before Fox sets out to steal from the farms of Boggis, Bunce, and Bean, he says the line, “And so it begins.” This is a reference to Wes Anderson’s first film Bottle Rocket, in which the character Dignan (played by Owen Wilson, who voices Coach Skip) says the exact same line before setting out on a practice heist.

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Richi
Cinema is my passion, I love tv shows and films and love sharing my experience.