Monday, June 18, 2007

Wallace and Gromit's Grand Day Out

Wallace and Gromit are a pair of characters that not many political bloggers post about (shame I hear you cry and indeed such cries are acknowledged), furthermore they are not a pair of characters that even the great Higham has deigned to grace with his type (even greater shame I hear you shout from the back row and its acknowledged) so I'm going to have to take up the pen and say something about how this duo, particularly in their first film, the Grand Day Out- offer a kind of defence of freedom that is very necessary to heed.

Lest you forget, and how could you, Wallace is an inventor with a mind filled with ideas, Gromit his dog is the more practical side of the duo forever shaking his head in disbelief at his master's antics (as shown above, Gromit ends up spattered with paint and used at one point as part of a work bench when Wallace has cut away the other end of the work bench). The story is basically thus- our heroes are in despair, in the midst of a bank holiday sitting with their feet up they feel the need for adventure (well Wallace does, Gromit looks quite happy!) and need a holiday, furthermore a crisis in their affairs has been realised- a crisis that involves the fact that though there is tea, though there are crackers in the house, there is no cheese, not one piece of cheese in the Fridge. Having thought about Cheese holidays- they decide to go to the moon, they build a rocket and set off, watched by a group of rats in shades, and reach the moon without incident (though Gromit loses a tower made of cards in the process) and Wallace prepares to carve out some cheese from the moon. After a series of adventures with a robot confused by their presence whose lifetime ambition is to ski, they set off home again and the movie finishes twenty minutes after it started, with Wallace leaning back in his seat sipping a cup of tea, and Gromit fiddling with the controls, as the Robot skis up and down the craters of the moon on bits of metal it had tugged from the spacecraft.

The story really isn't the point here though- its the individuality, its the eccentricity (in England's that's a virtue)- there is a line in the Lord of the Rings when Gandalf tells Frodo that what's worth fighting for is all the absurd Bolgers and Boffins and Bagginses- that's the same sense you get from Wallace and Gromit. These two characters are crackers, they are mad, their lives revolve around inventions, cheese (particularly Wensleydale) and tea- but in some sense they are the essense of the whole of Western civilisation. Civilisation isn't just Michelangelo and Machiavelli, its Wallace and his efforts to get to the moon, its loving Wensleydale and its a dog knitting in a chair and rats with shades over their eyes, its merry eccentricity which is a value all to itself. The absurdity of life is in many ways its essence- when we talk about freedom often we lose sight of the fact that freedom isn't just a political issue- its a personal issue as well. Put simply in a totalitarian state like North Korea, you can't live a life based on Wensleydale and tea- you can't just decide to build a rocket to go to the moon (theoretically you could in the West) and you can't be madly, loveably, endeeringly and frustratingly often eccentric.

That's the reason its important to be free- its so Wallaces and Gromits continue to flourish in our society.


Lord Nazh said...

I've seen the case of the were-rabbit 235235235 times... my daughter loves it

Ian Appleby said...

I wonder if W&G are banned in various totalitarian states. Certainly, Isaak Babel heroically exercised what he called the "right to write badly", by which he meant not following the tenets of Socialist Realism, and met his death for doing so.

LN, Ms Dynamite-E-e wore one disc out, we had to get another...

Gracchi said...

I often think I'm just a big kid- this is one of those films I absolutely love.

Ian I agree on the first point you make- totalitarianism always demands some activity and proscribes what that is and how its acheived- not a good way of living.

Anonymous said...

I do think you should try and keep things a little more serious - just because Mr H has gone on his hols, there is no need to fool around.

Tom Paine said...

I think there's a serious point buried under the frivolity, Mutley. By comparison with the unaccustomed frivolity over at my place at present, this is heavyweight stuff indded.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Great post - cheered me up - and a serious point at the end. I love W & G and having the freedom to be eccentric is important.

Ruthie said...

Love it!

Wallace and Grommit are the best.

"Put simply in a totalitarian state like North Korea, you can't live a life based on Wensleydale and tea- you can't just decide to build a rocket to go to the moon (theoretically you could in the West) and you can't be madly, loveably, endeeringly and frustratingly often eccentric."

This is only peripherally related, but when I was a little kid I once saw an (obviously) mentally ill homeless man, and I asked my father if he was crazy.

My father said, "Ruthie, only poor people are crazy. If you're rich, you're 'eccentric.' "

Don't know why that stuck with me.

Colin Campbell said...

Funny we were just watching a Grand Day Out as I was reading this. One of the modellers is originally from Adelaide and gave many interesting insights I heard on a radio interview I heard. The time frame for development is inconceivably slow. 2 years to make the first 10 minutes of the first one.

Excellent stuff.

james higham said...

Wallace and Gromit's Grand Day Out

What an amazing post, Tiberius! Agree 100% with the philosophy behind it.