Apart from the cosy and familiar story of finding a home in a host family, Robin Robin marks a significant break in the tradition of Aardman Animations. This is the studio’s first musical, full of thrilling songs. That sound like they’re being played by Mary Poppins mono group Dick Van Dyke. More importantly, it signalled a break from their long-standing relationship with the BBC. When the film debuted on Netflix as part of the Christmas scale.
However, this did not come with a flashy Hollywood makeover.
Much of Robin’s fascination with Robin lies in how simple it looks. And I say “looks” because the perceived simplicity obscures a plethora of complex stop-motion animations.
The 30-minute film is marked as a “special holiday”. As the Rankin/Bass stop animation starting with Rudolf the Red Nose Deer in 1964 has become part of the American Christmas tradition.
Robin Robin tells the story of a bit of bird – Robin (Bronte Carmichael). It is raised by a family of rats after their eggs rolled over in a garbage dump. He spent his entire life adjusting, puffing his fur into two tiny ears, and eagerly ignoring thoughts of flies. His family has always accepted him.
But Robin still believes he needs to secure a place among the rodents by stealing the entire sandwich. All rats are amateur thieves in this world, and stealing crumbs is their way of life. So he left with a head full of dreams.
The detail in Robin Robin is simply gorgeous. The animator Aardman has depicted many of the elements moving in the needle, including flames and bags of fresh snow.
This makes the character look like an old stuffed animal. That Christopher Robin may have been friends with for a long time. Directors Dan Ojari and Mikey Please also describe a world convincingly inhabitable by tiny creatures. Where garden gnomes are as impressive as the statues guarding Egyptian tombs.
Robin Robin constantly finds new, unexpected ways to nod to the familiar without stumbling upon an outright salute. At some point, Robin meets a magpie voiced by Richard Grant. Whose cave with discovered treasure resembles Ariel’s cave and whose song is about material life. Which is surprisingly reminiscent of Mr Burns “My West” from The Simpsons.
And while they have the idea that the family is a family:
Despite the differences on the inside, this is not a revolutionary approach. There is some room for nuance here. Robin says he’s not only the villain in the song. A cat that Gillian Anderson pronounces so gracefully that one wonders why he’s ever played anything but the cat. But also some of his closest allies. It is a touching reflection on how even a kind word can go inside. Robin Robin may be small, but he is rich and satisfying – perhaps served with Christmas pudding.
Soft and intimate tones are set through visualization and audio. Everything is sensual, focusing on sound effects and reflective graphics that create ambience. From filters to time and nature-related settings to weather and environment. The fantastic colours mimic how big the little wildlife is. Every corner has its specific feel, and the overall look isn’t limited to one type of palette.
The expressive eyes are rich in detail in the image. Robin is tall and beaming, reflecting his innocence and the negativity hidden within. On the other hand, the cat’s eyes are large and clipped, balancing sinister and mischievous. Another valuable accent is the short musical numbers. That props use to create imagery and symbolism and further enhance the story.
So much heart and detail have gone into this stop-motion short film. It’s easy to love and a great way to start the 2021 holiday season.