A Close Shave

From Academic Kids

A Close Shave is a 1995 animated film directed by Nick Park at Aardman Animations in Bristol, featuring his characters Wallace and Gromit. It was his third half-hour short featuring the eccentric inventor Wallace and his quiet but smart dog Gromit, following 1989's A Grand Day Out and 1993's The Wrong Trousers.

Contents

Summary

In this short, Wallace and Gromit are running a window-cleaning business, and their work brings Wallace into contact with wool shop owner Wendolene, who he becomes besotted with, but also gets them involved in a sheep-rustling scheme run by Wendolene's sinister dog Preston.

As before, the 30 minutes are packed with sight gags and exaggerated physical comedy, as well as a few subtle film parodies. Voice acting was before the sole duty of Peter Sallis (the voice of Wallace), as Gromit is always silent. In 'A Close Shave', Wendolene was introduced, and was a second speaking character for the series, voiced by Anne Reid.

Trivia

In-jokes and references

Here are a few subtle jokes from the film.

  • The name of the heroine, Wendolene, is similar to "Windolene" - a window-cleaning solution.
  • The name of Wendolene's scheming pet with a dark secret, Preston, is the name of Nick Park's home town in Lancashire.
  • In Gromit's jail scene, the writing 'FEATHER WAS ERE' is a reference to the penguin lodger Wallace took in during the previous film, The Wrong Trousers, Feathers McGraw. Feathers tried to steal an expensive diamond but was foiled by Wallace and Gromit and jailed.
  • Also in the jail scene, Gromit is reading a book called 'Crime And Punishment' by 'Fido Dogstoyevsky'. Crime and Punishment is a classic novel written by Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky, so the author name on Gromit's book is a double-pun on the original author's name. The spine of the book also has a penguin on it that looks like Feathers McGraw, with the words "A Penguin Classic", another double-pun, which also derives from the name of the book publisher Penguin.
  • When Wallace receives a call for window-cleaning service, his method of getting to his motorbike and out onto the road is a direct (and hilarious) homage to the Thunderbirds TV series (specifically, the way Virgil Tracy gets to Thunderbird 2 and into the air).
  • The final scene which reveals that Preston is actually a robot is similar to the final fight scene in The Terminator.

Deleted scenes

  • Because of the time-consuming nature of production, the running length had to be worked out by estimating each storyboarded shot's rough time, to avoid wasting days or weeks filming too much footage for the 30 minutes. The original storyboard was estimated to take up as long as 42 minutes of film, so an entire section at 'Ramsbottom Manor', featuring homages to the horror genre, and Walt Disney's Bambi, was cut out of the story and never shot.
  • Eventually, about 5 minutes of actual shot footage had to be cut out of the film to trim it to the usual 30 minutes. The cut footage included some shots with Wallace and Wendolene in the wool shop, which recalled the Noel Coward film Brief Encounter.

Sequels

  • After A Close Shave, Wallace And Gromit's next major outing was in a set of 10 2½-minute shorts called Cracking Contraptions, each showing one of Wallace's inventions. These appeared on the Internet and were also released as a limited edition Region 2 DVD.

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