Revolting Rhymes (2016, Short)
Dirs: Jan Lachauer, Jakob Schuh & Bin-Han To
While not exactly ‘short’, this is a brilliant adaptation of Roald Dahl’s retellings of classic fairy tales, including Cinderella and Jack of beanstalk fame, told like never before.
These are classic tales that have been adapted countless times, many of them by Disney, though Roald Dahl’s version of them is fantastically different with twists, modernizations, and jokes galore. What made his book so beloved all comes across in this adaptation, especially as the animation draws upon the style of Dahl’s illustrator Quentin Blake somewhat.
The art of storytelling is central to the narrative, these tales are being retold by an unlikely narrator whose knowledge of details and personal relationship to events cleverly changes the perspective. It pays respect to the traditions of oral storytelling and classic fairytale books, while being an astoundingly faithful adaptation of a modern literary classic by a master of children’s literature.
It’s not as short as you might expect a ‘short film’ to be. Here in the U.K. it was screened on the BBC in two half-hour parts and worked very well in that format. The stories overlap and link so it’s not that each tale stands apart from the others, so I can see why it’s nice to consider it as one film but that film is very nearly one hour long, which it fully needs to be to not cut anything out from the brilliant source material.
With a cast of voice actors in English that includes Rob Brydon, Dominic West and Rose Leslie as well as many others, I am certain this has a future as one of those staples TV for holiday seasons and bank holidays that will be scheduled in for families to enjoy together.
‘Revolting Rhymes’ is nominated at the 2018 Academy Awards for Best Animated Short Film. While I do think that joined together the two episodes are a bit long to be considered a short, it’s lovely animation and hugely entertaining, thanks in no small part to the source material. When it comes to its chances of winning the Oscar, I feel like the award is more likely to go to a film that tells a far more concise (and wholly original) story and better fits the ‘short film’ description.