If there's one filmmaking technique that takes immense skill, patience, and artistic flare, it's stop motion or, the art of making puppets move. Typically, stop motion uses puppets made out of synthetic materials and are moved by animators who work long hours just to get a few seconds of the finished film shot. Labour intensive with little room for error, stop motion films are just about always eye-catching. Below are six of the best stop motion movies ever made.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
It should be no surprise that Tim Burton tops this list since his movie The Nightmare Before Christmas helped bring full-length stop motion movies into the mainstream. Not only was the movie extremely well done, it became a massive marketing success that's still popular to this day. Based on a Christmas poem Mr. Burton wrote, adapted to the screen by Michael McDowell and directed by Henry Selick, The Nightmare Before Christmas, features Jack Skellington, the king of the Halloweentown, who yearns for something more than just scaring people every Halloween. He desires to branch out and, in his ambitious mood, steals Father Christmas. The story develops in wonderful stop-motion movie magic to tell the story of being happy with who you and where you're put in life.
Mr. Burton's next offering, Corpse Bride, is a love story about Victor who is to be married against his will to Victoria, a well to do lady of the village. When the wedding rehearsal goes wrong, Victor heads off into the woods and practices his marriage vows, he doesn't realize his words transcend the land of living... and the dead. It is here he accidentally marries Corpse Bride. Now married to the Corpse Bride, Victor has to make a choice between his bride in the land of the living, or the land of the dead.
James and the Giant Peach
The heart warming story of a little boy, James, whose parents are tragically killed by a rhinoceros and is sent to live with his two mean aunties. But his life takes a turn for the magical when he saves a spider. Now in posession of magical crocodile tongues, a massive peach plant begins to grow. When James ventures inside he discovers a company of new friends, including the spider he saved and a very wise grasshopper who will help him get to New York. Stunning visuals and brought to you by the same Burton/Selick team, this movie is a delight to watch and will make you want to read the book to relive childhood memories!
Mary & Max
A funny and heart warming movie about two pen pals, Mary, an eight year old girl living in Australia, and Max, a forty-four year old man living in New York. Set in the 1970s, Mary randomly picks a bunch of names from the phone book and sends them a letter with a bar of chocolate. Max is the only one who responds and thus begins a 20-year relationship that takes several humourous and laughable twists and turns. Using modern stop motion techniques to convery the 1970s, the New York sequences are shot in black and in white while the Australian sequences are shot in sepia tone to give the film a unique and "classic" look. As in most stop motion films, the set design itself is worthy of being placed in an art gallery.
Based on the book by Neil Gaimen and adapted to the screen and directed by Henry Selick, the same man who brought us several of the above movies, this movie tells the story of 11 year old Coraline who is bored by her regular life. But one night she finds a secret tunnel into another world that seems magical and full of colour. Making the journey into this new world, she becomes entranced by how lovely and interesting it is until she realizes that things aren't what they seem. Now she must make her way back to the real world or face being trapped in this sinister parallel world forever. If you get the chance, see the film in 3D!
The Pied Piper of Hamelin
An abstract art piece unto itself with a much different animation style than the mainstream movies above, Jiri Barta's The Pied Piper of Hamelin tells the traditional tale of the piper who travelled to the town of Hamlin which was being overrun by rodents. Playing his flute, the piper is able to seduce the rodents out of the city, thus saving the city. the great thing about this movie is the design of the sets and the make of the puppets. A darker film, each shot seems as if it were a painting. And it's not long at all, sitting at only 50 minutes in duration. The movie really is an accomplishment and stands as one of the best and little known stop motions films.