One of the Most Anticipated Films of 2011 we listed back in December last year was Winnie the Pooh, the continuation of Disney’s return to cel-animation that began with The Princess and the Frog after almost a decade in the 3D digital playground. Now there is another reason to get excited about the film’s release: the animated short The Ballad of Nessie that is due to screen with it. Today, Disney released some stills from the forthcoming animated short.
Narrated by Scottish comedian Billy Connolly, Disney describes this as the “honest to goodness true tale of Loch Ness and its most famous resident”. It tells the story of how Nessie the Loch Ness Monster and her best friend MacQuack the rubber duck came to live in the most famous loch in Scotland.
The short film will be directed by Stevie Wermers-Skelton and Kevin Deters, who won an Emmy® Award for the Christmas 2009 short Prep & Landing and are also responsible for the Goofy short How to Hook Up Your Home Theater. Written by the duo and Regina Conroy, the animation will come courtesy of Disney veteran animators Andreas Deja (The Lion King), Mark Henn (The Princess and the Frog), Randy Haycock (Meet the Robinsons), Dale Baer (Home on the Range) and Ruben A. Aquino (Lilo & Stitch). If that’s not enough of a pedigree, the music will come courtesy of Oscar-winning composer Michael Giacchino (Ratatouille and Up). Animation fans, get excited now.
The gorgeous-looking art direction has been pitched by Disney as evoking the Disney shorts of the 1940s and 1950s, and what we can see so far is beautiful. Check out those watercolour, tartan-thatched backgrounds! Plus, Nessie and MacQuack are too cute for words. They just make us squee. That’s right, squee. Out loud. We really can’t wait.
The short not only marks the continuation of the return to traditional cel-animated films from Walt Disney Animation, many of which used to grace the screen prior to their theatrical presentations. Although the major stars of these shorts were undoubtedly Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy, Disney’s theatrical shorts go back as far as 1921 with the Alice short live action/cartoon hybrids. Similarly, 75 Silly Symphonies were made between 1929 and 1939, including seminal shorts Flowers and Trees, Three Little Pigs, The Tortise and the Hare, The Old Mill and The Ugly Duckling.
While Pixar has been keeping the short film tradition alive, and more recently Fox and Warner has begun doing the same (including Scrat’s Continental Crack-Up and Rabid Rider respectively), only a handful (such as Destino, Lorenzo and How to Hook Up Your Home Theater) have appeared in the last decade.
Winnie the Pooh is due out in the US on 15 July 2011, and 22 September 2011 in Australia from Walt Disney Pictures.