When you think about Aardman Animation, what do you think of? Of course I can only speak for myself, but, when I think of Aardman, I think of several things: quirky character designs, equally quirky stories, warm, light comedy, and a lot of heart. With these elements Aardman Animation carved out a unique niche for itself, producing a distinctive body of work with a loyal body of fans ready to take it all in.
Now, Aardman has turned its unique style to a noble cause. Recently, BBC News reported that Aardman teamed with Bristol Aging Better, an organization devoted to improving the quality of life for the elderly, for an animated public service announcement. The commercial is intended to raise awareness of the social isolation that plagues each of us as we grow older.
The commercial takes its basic concept from Nick Park’s 1989 short Creature Comforts (which won the 1990 Academy Award for Best Animated Short). Creature Comforts takes several candid interviews with nursing home residents and puts them into the mouths of stop-motion zoo animals, turning the comments about the nursing homes into comments about the zoo. This new commercial also uses the ‘interviews as voice acting’ technique. This time, however, the elderly interviewees discuss the loneliness they feel as friends pass on, retirement looms, and family members move far away. The interviewees also discuss activities they use to fill their time and help kill the loneliness.
The Aardman animators punctuate this important message with some really charming moments of physical comedy. My personal favorite moment involves the chicken on the treadmill, but there are many other funny moments (including ones involving a Vespa scooter, a bungee jumping pig, and another, rather large, pig). The animators do a great job incorporating gags into the commercial without detracting from the serious message of the ad. The jokes are never the focus of the scene; they’re more like something fun, tucked away in the corners of the frame, waiting to be discovered upon multiple viewings.
Just about everything Aardman touches turns to gold (in this author’s opinion, anyway). For that reason, it’s really nice to see the studio turn its considerable talents to promoting an important message!
If you wish to view the commercial for yourself, you can do so on YouTube!
What do you think of the commercial? Let us know in the comments!
Edited by: Hannah Wilkes