Paul McCartney and Animation
Paul McCartney didn’t win “Best song from a film” this week-end, neither at the Critics Choice awards nor at the Golden Globe awards. But he was on hand in case he won. And the people at the Golden Globe awards made good use of Paul when they asked him to be presenter for the “Best animated feature” award, a prize won by “Up”.
He had a couple of good jokes, too!
Paul McCartney and animation goes back to the “Yellow Submarine” full length animation film from 1969, which he gave a few songs to and contributed some ideas for. The Beatles were all delighted with the finished product, and Paul started producing animated films himself in the seventies.
His first idea was never released, “The Bruce McMouse Show” was a story about a mouse and his family, who lived under the stage where Wings were playing during their 1972 tour. It’s not known if the film was ever finished.
Paul and his late wife Linda then hosted the annual Disney Christmas special in 1974.
Next up was “Oriental Nightfish”. The song was composed by Linda McCartney during the ‘Band On The Run’ sessions and performed by Wings. The film ran at the Cannes Film Festival in May of 1978. The track was finally released on Linda’s posthumous compilation album ‘Wide Prairie’ in 1998. Commissioned by Linda and directed by Ian Emes, who designed, painted and airbrushed every frame of the film, which many people thought to be computer animated. Anticipating the digital revolution, this was Emes’ last animated film before moving into live action.
At the Cannes film festival in 1980, the McCartneys contributed with another animated film for a Linda McCartney composition, Seaside Woman. Reportedly recorded in 1971, and performed live during Wings’ tours of 1972 and 1973. This time, the film won the Palme d’Or for best short film.
McCartney always liked the british newspaper comic strip adventures of Rupert Bear, and purchased the movie rights to the character, intending to make a full length animated feature. Nothing came of these plans, but he did get to make a short film with the character. Rupert and the Frog Song is a 1984 animated film written and produced by Paul McCartney and directed by Geoff Dunbar and Raymond ‘George’ Taylor. The making of Rupert and the Frog Song began in 1981 and ended in 1983. The film was released theatrically as an accompaniment to McCartney’s feature film Give My Regards to Broad Street. The song We All Stand Together from the film’s soundtrack reached number 3 when released in the UK Singles Chart. The home video of the film was number 1 in the UK video charts and the best selling children’s video that year.
McCartney contributed with the story, the song and the voices of Rupert, Edward, Bill and a boy frog.
Animation then returned when McCartney was making the music video for his song “Once Upon A Long Ago” in 1987 and then for “Ou est le soleil” in 1989.
Dunbar worked again with McCartney on an animated film about the work of French artist Honore Daumier, “Daumier’s Law” in 1992, which won both of them a Bafta award.
In 1996, Linda and Paul made a photo film about the Grateful Dead, made from photos Linda had taken of the group. Shot at the Grateful Dead House, the band’s communal home in Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco, and at a concert in Central Park, the nine-minute film is a moody, hypnotic piece, with titles and credits handwritten by Mr. McCartney. For the length of the film, music from the 1968 Grateful Dead album, “Anthem of the Sun,” plays (with the vocals removed) as black-and-white photographs are juxtaposed, morphed into one another and put together like flip books so that band members seem to be moving. Other times, the camera slowly pans across faces in a magnified crowd photo, stopping at the most interesting character: a man in a trilby who looks like an undercover agent; a woman who seems to have consumed too many drugs.
Paul McCartney said he thought of the idea while looking through a giant three-foot contact sheet of his wife’s photographs and feeling as he did when he was ill as a child and would stare at a newspaper photograph until he could imagine it moving. “I noticed where she was trying to get a portrait of Bob Weir, she would take a whole roll of him, one photo after another,” he said of one band member. “Of course, she only needed one shot, but in looking at the whole roll it looked like a movie. Your eyes almost ran it all together.”
They then got together with Geoff Dunbar again with a new cartoon, Tropic Island Hum in 1997, a film finally released in 2004. An accompanying single, featuring both the song from the new film as well as the one from Rupert and the Frog song was released.
Paul McCartney – Music & Animation Collection was released in 2004, featuring some of Macca’s animated movies, the before mentioned Tropic Island Hum ans Rupert and the Frog Song, but also another film with frogs in it, Tuesday, based on the book by David Wiesner. The film was another McCartney-Dunbar project, completed in 2000.
Next up for Paul in the animation department is an adaption of his childrens book, “High in the clouds” from 2005. It will be his first full length animated feature. “It’s been my ambition for about 30 years to do a full-length animation film,” he said in 2005. In June 2009, it was announced that New Line Films were going to make the film, and Paul was asked to write music for it.