Sometimes, animation is absolutely key to getting across the true feel of a movie. From simply targeting kids to carrying off incredibly complex, unbuildable objects through the art of full-blown CGI, animation has produced an incredible number of landmark moments, and for a range of hugely different reasons.
Here, we’re taking a look at four times that traditional animation has been placed alongside, or literally on top of, live action – and have made for unforgettable scenes. They may not be the most complex, or even groundbreaking, moments committed to the silver screen, but they’re by far some of the most memorable
Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003): O-Ren Ishii’s back story
As far as character development goes, Quentin Tarantino is one of the masters of giving you everything you need to understand both protagonists and antagonists in a matter of seconds. A crash course in this was dispensed halfway through Kill Bill: Volume 1, when Lucy Liu’s “Cottonmouth” – real name O-Ren Ishii – is introduced to us all.
Her steely-eyed demeanour is so much easier to understand through traditional anime means, as she sees her parents brutally murdered by Yakuza as she cowers under their bed. What’s more, the gruesome sequence provides the perfect introduction to the movie’s landmark sequence: the yellow-tracksuited Bride cutting her way through O-Ren’s Crazy 88 in a similarly cartoonish fashion.
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971): The Oompa Loompa music videos
What do you get when you gobble down sweets? An incredibly strange music video, it seems. Such was the situation for four of the five “lucky” Golden Ticket recipients, who suffered at the hands of Gene Wilder’s titular chocolatier and his strange factory.
Combining animated words and an oscillator-style display, these animated asides really hammered home the unbelievable and somewhat otherworldly situations each of the greedy, stupid or spoilt children faced. It’s no surprise the soundtrack was nominated for an Academy Award; the songs were made all the more memorable by their accompanying visuals, much like 99% of OK Go’s offerings.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988): The steamroller sequence
Even now, nothing quite prepares you for the surprise horror elements of a film that promises to be nothing but a rip-roaring comedy affair. Christopher Lloyd’s Judge Doom, however, is so many levels of fearsome – and 99% of this is down to his partial animation, the likes of which hadn’t really been seen before. It all comes to a head as a steamroller seemingly wipes the baddie out.
Seeing him get back up and “shake it off”, however, is something that’ll live long in the minds of thousands of people worldwide. Who thought animation could be so frightening?
Fantasia (1940): All of it, basically
Speaking of frightening, one of the early pioneers of fear was Fantasia, notably when worldwide favourite Mickey Mouse commits a horrific shadow-based axe murder (starting around the 5:35 mark here). Other elements of the movie were also incredibly dark, too, though were happily interspersed by dancing animals and floating flowers.
Yet the strength of Fantasia lay in its ability to incredibly complement the music it partnered with. It was so powerful both then and now that it still stands at number five in the American Film Institute’s list of animated films, and 58th in the overall greatest films of all time.