Here’s stop-motion animation stuff from 1989. It’s an early entry from Nick Park and Aardman Animations. And it’s good old fun.
A Grand Day Out
This thing premiered on 4th November back in that there 1989. At an animation film festival in Bristol.
It hit TV screens in time for Christmas 1990 on Channel 4. Unlike future efforts, such as The Wrong Trousers (1993) and A Close Shave (2005), this was lacks the overall polish of Park’s subsequent efforts.
And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. He was perfecting his craft, but the claymation isn’t as professionally well done. And the £11,000 budget was also restrictive.
The story is also quite a bit more basic. Although we’re introduced to two legends:
- Wallace: A middle-aged, bumbling, conventional chap. Who also happens to possess a genius capacity to invent crazy contraptions. He was voiced by Peter Sallis, of Last of the Summer Wine fame, until the actor died in 2017 aged 96.
- Gromit: A highly intelligent dog (who can’t speak), he likes to read (at one point blasting through Crime and Punishment) and is often baffled by his owner’s eccentric behaviour.
In A Grand Day Out, Wallace (a cheese enthusiast) notes there is no more cheese. The horror!
So, in classic British fashion, he decides to build a rocket so they can go to the Moon.
Which, as urban legend would have it, is made out of cheese! It probably isn’t, but we doubt there’s any scientific evidence to suggest otherwise.
So, Wallace does his thing. He builds his spaceship.
And off they jaunt to the Moon, which they reach in pretty rapid fashion. And decide to have a bit of a picnic.
What do you expect, these people are English, dammit! Tradition speaks volumes over here.
The second half of the 24 minute short film is actually pretty touching.
The intrepid duo encounter a coin-operated robot. Wallace sticks some money into it, but nothing happens. At least at first.
However, as the other two wander off for a look at the Moon, the robot sparks into life. Whilst clearing away some dishes, it spots Wallace’s magazine.
There’s a bit about skiing in it and, suddenly, the robot has a frantic craze to head to Earth to try out skiing.
So crazed is it in its efforts, Wallace and Gromit confuse its action as a psycho killer robot. Panicking, they try to flee.
In desperation, the robot tries to cling to the ship to head to Earth. Unfortunately, that goes a tad wrong for it.
Happily, right after the end of that clip it’s able to fashion the strips of metal into skies. And it’s able to go off skiing over the cheesy Moon. Nice, eh?
On first viewing, we found it very sad the robot got left behind. But there’s something of a compromise ending, with the robot happy after all.
As a stop-animated first outing, it remains a simple but effective story.
Sure, some of Nick Parks feature length films now make A Grand Day Out look positively amateurish in comparison.
But you do have to start somewhere. And the film brought into our lives two iconic characters. Even if Nick Park began life on it in 1982.
Wallace was supposed to sound like he’s from Lancashire, but actor Sallis was Yorkshire through and through. So there we go—reet proper, lad!
And in response to Park’s efforts, it was nominated for an Academy Award—Best Animated Short Film.
It didn’t win back in 1991, but subsequent films sure have hit the international stage and swept up many gongs.