of Tom Thumb (1993) producers:
bolexbrothers / BBC Bristol /
La Sept / Manga / Lumen animation:
pixilation & stop-motion techniques run time: 61mins
nursery crime of epic proportions"
In a bizarre, grim world (Future? Past? Who
can tell?) a young mother gives
birth to our tiny titular hero who is
immediately whisked away by shadowey
agents and earmarked for 'examination' by
the scientists working from a grisly
laboratory. We follow Tom's efforts
to escape from captivity, with its pitiful
mutated inhabitants, and somehow negotiate
his way back to his pining father
through a Big World inhabited by dirty freaks
and fools and skittering critters
festering in rundown tenements drinking
houses and crumbling suburban sprawl...
Awkward, uncomfortable, unsettling with
a disturbing soundtrack layered over
the staccato images, Dave Borthwick has produced
a pixilated masterpiece.
Tom and his pint size friends, creations
and creatures are stop-motion figures.
Tom himself resembles some distressed Aardmanesque
abortion, Morph on
acid, if you will. The Big People -
Tom's parents and such - are played by real
people, photographed frame by painstaking
frame to produce a grotesque,
jumping, ultra-reality presence.
Lighting is grim and grimy, dialogue restricted
to just a few grunts and and groans, but
it all gels perfectly to produce a unique
animated experience to savour. The middle
portion of the film focuses on
Tom's arrival and exploration of a garbage-strewn
swamp that's home to
a tribe of little people and, frankly,
it's mesmerizing. The tiny medieval world
is beautifully realised, the figures
here make such gentle, delicate movements
completely at odds with the grotesque
neanderthal Big People who blindly
stomp on the tribe's homes and inhabitants,
even squishing the occupants
on occasion. There's real emotion on show
here, ranking alongside the best
Films' work or those Truckers
from Cosgrove Hall. Some may be
deterred by the squeamish opening, but
stick with it and you'll be rewarded
Mainstream? - No, not really. A must-see
movie? - Absoloutely.
Bolexbrothers are a small independent
team of freethinking film-makers
based in Bristol. "Tom Thumb"
was originally a 10min short film commssion
for the BBC, broadcast at Christmas on BBC2.
It was considered a tad too
grim and twisted for such a festive slot
but the film was well received on the
animation circuit and twelve months
later the BBC commssioned a
The real peole we see animated in the
film are actually the bolexbrothers
themselves, plus a few friends and associates.
Nick Upton and the gang were
by Dave Borthwick whilst model
insects and moths flit and scuttle through
frame in between the real folk - it's
an arresting effect. It's also
interesting to see the face of Richard Goleszowski
featured as one of the background people.
He's gone on to great things at
Aardman Animation, bringing us Rex
The Runt and friends, and the two
"Creature Comforts" series....
Thumb"s electronic score is as mesmerizing as the visuals.
Trivia Hounds will
note that the Tom Thumb theme was actually
composed by John Paul Jones
of Led Zeppelin fame.
most recent production has been the all-new Magic
Evening Standard British Film Award - Best Technical/Artistic Achievement
Fantasporto - Critics Award / Special Mention
Fantasy Film Award
Catalonian Intl Film Festival, Sitges - Best Director
designed, directed and edited by Dave Borthwick
'Hutch' Hutchinson exec prod: Colin
Tom Thumb theme by John Paul Jones
Music and theme variations by Startled Insects the
Frank Passingham, Nick Upton,
Gifford, John Schofield, Lee Wilton charac models: Justin
Exley, Jan Sanger add. models
& set dressing: Cathy
Price, Beverley Knowlden key animators:
Dave Borthwick, Frank Passingham, Lee Wilton asst anim: Cathy
Price, Jan Sanger, Nick Upton,
Fouracre featuring: Nick
Upton (Pa Thumb)
Collard (Ma Thumb)
Gifford (Woman In Bar)
Davis, Dave Alex Riddett, Andy Joyce,
Goleszowski, Tim Norfolk, John Beedel,
Brett Lane, Helen Veysey, Paul Veysey,
Peter Townsend, Marie Clifford, Tim Hands,
Andrew Bailey, Nick Upton, John Schofield
The official studio site,
suitably twisted with red letter links cropping
up against a jet black background.
An informative place...
Manga Manga have produced
an excellent site. It features a fuller storyline,
background info, info on
the animation techniques involved in the
production, a full list of awards
and a clip to view...