28 October marks the International Animation Day (IAD) that was created by ASIFA in 2002 to honour the birth of animation.
Over the years we have witnessed the emergence and importance of animation in various mediums. Animation’s universal appeal led to its usage in advertisements, music videos, commercial theatres, kids content, education space; thus giving a lot of scope and exposure to independent authors, artists, students, and children from all over the world.
This Animation Day, let’s have a look at some of the most memorable animated feature films that have touched our heart and left their mark in the animation industry.
The Lion King (1994)
Touted as the number film of all time, the 1994 Disney classic, The Lion King, will forever be our all-time favourite for its breathtaking visuals and beautiful storyline. The highest-grossing animated film and the second-highest-grossing film of all time, The Lion King’s success and the powerful storyline led to it getting adapted in various forms including the 2019 live-action CGI remake.
The movie follows the adventures of the young lion Simba, the heir of his father, Mufasa. Simba’s wicked uncle, Scar, plots to usurp Mufasa’s throne by luring father and son into a stampede of wildebeests. But Simba escapes, and only Mufasa is killed. Simba returns as an adult to take back his homeland from Scar with the help of his friends Timon and Pumbaa.
Toy Story (1995)
The movie that created history, Toy Story, was the first entirely computer-animated feature film, as well as the first feature film from Pixar. The movie ushered in a new era of entirely digitally animated films and pushed the genre into the future of narrative storytelling. Owing to the success of this movie, the movie was followed by three sequels which also got widely acclaimed.
The movie focuses on the relationship between an old-fashioned pull-string cowboy doll named Woody and an astronaut action figure, Buzz Lightyear, as they evolve from rivals competing for the affections of their owner Andy Davis, to friends who work together to be reunited with him after being separated from him.
Spirited Away (2001)
The highest-grossing film in Japan, Spirited Away is directed by one of the most reputed storytellers and animation filmmaker, Hayao Miyazaki. It won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature at the 75th Academy Awards, making it the first and only hand-drawn and non-English-language animated film to win that award.
Coming from the house of Studio Ghibli, Spirited Away tells the story of a young girl who enters the world of spirits of Japanese Shinto folklore, and must find a way to free herself and her parents and return them to the human world.
Kung Fu Panda (2008)
Produced by DreamWorks Animation, Kung Fu Panda is set in a version of ancient China and revolves around a bumbling panda named Po, a kung fu enthusiast. When an evil kung fu warrior named Tai Lung is foretold to escape from prison, Po is unwittingly named the “Dragon Warrior”, that was destined to defeat him. Owing to the movie’s positive response, it turned into a media franchise with two more sequels under its hood.
Packed with humour and clever gags, the movie delivers an optimistic message that there is potential in every person and how we need to accept ourselves and others for who they are.
Adapted from the dark fantasy children’s novella by author Neil Gaiman, Coraline is a creepy stop-motion horror movie. Directed by Henry Selick, the stop-motion master best known for The Nightmare Before Christmas, the film depicts an adventurous girl named Coraline finding an idealized parallel world behind a secret door in her new home, unaware that the alternative world contains a dark and sinister secret.
The Academy Award-winning Pixar and Disney team-up movie Up, is the first animated film to open the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. It centers around a widower named Carl and a young boy, Russell, who set out to South America by tying tons of balloons to Carl’s house in order to fulfil a promise to his late wife Ellie.
The story of an unlikely friendship between a little boy and a lonely old man takes us on an adventurous ride filled with vibrant visuals.
The Little Prince (2015)
‘It is only with the heart that we can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye’ – a thought by Antoine de Saint-Exupery from the famous book The Little Prince that inspired Mark Osborne to give this book an animated treatment. The Little Prince or Le Petit Prince (in French) is a combination of both stop motion and CG animation. It follows the tale of a little girl and her escapade into her magical world of imagination.
Deemed as “The most human movie of the year, and it doesn’t star a single human” by Esquire’s Matt Patches, Anomalisa is a stop-motion psychological comedy-drama film directed and produced by Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson. It became the first animated film to win the Grand Jury Prize at the 72nd Venice International Film Festival.
The film follows a lonely customer service expert who perceives everyone as identical until he meets a unique woman in a Cincinnati hotel. Anomalisa is one of those films that showcases how animation is not just a medium to entertain kids but also to narrate serious/dark topics which may be difficult to do in a live-action format.
Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)
“If you must blink, do it now.” This dialogue said by the movie’s protagonist, Kubo is something we must listen to as each and every scene of this feature is filled with astonishment. A stop motion animated feature from Portland-based Laika, Kubo and the Two Strings tells the tale of an epic adventure journey of ancient Japan.
The film revolves around Kubo, a young boy who wields a magical shamisen (a Japanese stringed instrument) and whose left eye was stolen during infancy. Accompanied by a snow monkey and beetle, he must subdue his mother’s corrupted sisters and his power-hungry grandfather Raiden the Moon King, who is responsible for stealing his left eye.
Disney’s animated feature Moana tells the story of Moana, the strong-willed daughter of a chief of a Polynesian village, who is chosen by the ocean itself to reunite a mystical relic with the goddess Te Fiti. When a blight strikes her island, Moana sets sail in search of Maui, a legendary demigod, in the hope of returning the relic to Te Fiti and saving her people.
It portrays a culture and traditional habitat of the South Pacific islands with all the tattoos covering the entire body and typical natural attire. The movie triggers the warrior within you to fight all odds without worrying much about the consequences.
Your Name (2016)
Japanese filmmakers have a knack to create something totally out of the box with their complex narratives and emotional storyline, and Your Name is one of these masterpieces that fits this bill. Makoto Shinkai’s fantasy drama film is the highest-grossing anime worldwide and has gone on to bag many awards.
Your Name tells the story of a high school boy in Tokyo and a high school girl in a rural town, who suddenly and inexplicably begin to swap bodies. Although they’re total strangers, their lives immediately become intertwined. As their connection to each other grows, they eventually try to meet up with one another.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse (2018)
The first-ever animated feature Spider-Man film is set in a shared multiverse called the “Spider-Verse.” The story follows Miles Morales of Earth-1610 as he becomes the new Spider-Man and joins other Spider-People from various dimensions to save New York City from Kingpin.
Known for its direction, characters, story, voice acting, humour, visuals and soundtrack, the movie bagged numerous Best Animated Feature awards. What sets Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse apart from the rest of the animated movies is its unique animation style. Computer animation has been combined with traditional hand-drawn comic book techniques inspired by the work of Miles Morales co-creator Sara Pichelli.