From the creative mind that brought us the beloved Wallace and Gromit, comes a whole new world of Plasticine characters, heartwarming tales and supremely British humour: Early Man.

The result of a follow-up collaboration between director Nick Park and Aardman Animations, the stop-motion animation techniques made so popular by the Wrong TrousersA Close Shave and, for a later generation, Chicken Run (the highest grossing stop-animation film of all time) are revived in a different universe of woolly mammoths and Neanderthals.

Following young caveman Dug, the story charts the battle for him and his tribe to defend the lush valley they call home from the evil Lord Nooth of the Bronze City – in a football match. Ostensibly about a bygone era, the story delves into a classic underdog tale while also exploring topical themes of overcoming dictatorial power, women’s empowerment and, of course, why the English are terrible at “the beautiful game” they invented. With all the imagination, tropes and loving care to detail you’d expect from Park, this latest creation is a true joy to watch and a staunch reminder of the beauty of this low-fi look animation in contrast to the prominence of high-tech CGI.

The star-studded cast who voice the characters were there at the film’s premiere at the BFI Imax in London, including Eddie Redmayne, who voices Dug, Tom Hiddleston whose voice is unrecognisable in the French-accented Nooth, Maisie Williams, who plays the tribe’s saviour as a young girl whose football talent helps them win their match, and Nick Park himself who takes the role of the grunting wild boar Dug has as a pet, Hognob.

We were there to speak with the creative team and actors including Selina Griffiths and Fone-Jackers’ Kayvan Novak about the experience of creating the film, the challenges of voicing an animated movie (not least recording the whole thing alone in a booth…) and what makes Park’s stop-motion animation films so popular the world over.

We also had the pleasure of speaking with Peter Lord and David Sproxton, the founders behind Aardman Animation about keeping stop-animation alive and the genius of Nick Park.

British pop-rock trio New Hope Club also stopped to speak with us about creating the soundtrack, even giving us a short rendition of their track Tiger Feet.

By Sarah Bradbury. First published on The Upcoming on 15th January 2018.
Videos Filippo L’Astorina

Early Man is released nationwide on 26th January 2018.

Watch the trailer for Early Man on Youtube here: