Bristol-based Aardman Animations made their reputation with short films and adverts using plasticine models brought to life with stop-motion animation. In 2000, they released Chicken Run, their first full feature-length film, a gargantuan task and a huge success. Twenty-three years later, they made a sequel!
Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget picks up where the previous film left off. The chickens who escaped from evil Farmer Tweedy are living an idyllic life of peace and freedom on an island. The ringleaders of the original escape, Rocky and Ginger, have had a daughter, Molly. And she starts taking an insistent interest in what looks like an amusement park: Fun-Land. She runs away to have an adventure and makes a friend, Frizzle. They get into the park but the soon discover it is in fact a farm run by Mrs Tweedy and her new husband. They want the chickens on the farm to be happy so their meat will be tender for a new product: chicken nuggets.
Realising Ginger is in danger, all the chickens rally round. This time they are going to break into a chicken farm, instead of break out.
Just like in classic Aardman creations like the Wallace and Gromit films, there's a sharp, comedic script and lots of visual humour. Which is all the more impressive when you know how long it takes to make even a second of footage. There are 12 frames for every second of film, which means that every mobile element in the shot that has to be moved a tiny amount between each of those frames.
The longest of the film's 1,400 plus shots is the opening pan across Chicken Island, which 32.67 seconds. It took 80 working days to shoot.
This making-of video is too long to show in entirety in class but you could pick almost any part to let pupils get a real sense of the work that goes into stop-motion animation, the size of the puppets, the way the animators climb into the and around the sets. For lower-level pupils, don't worry about the sound, or certainly listening comprehension. The images speak volumes and pupils can have a great time describing them.
There is also an exhibition on at the Cartoon Museum in London celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Wallace and Gromit film The Wrong Trousers. It has lots of concept art and models to give a real behind-the-scenes feel.
Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget is available on Netflix.
Wallace and Gromit The Wrong Trousers Turns 30
The Cartoon Museum, London
Till 16 April, 2024
Aardman Animation is based in Bristol, and features in Shine Bright 4e Snapfile 7 Arty Bristol.
Check out our A1+ resource on the exhibition and the new film.