Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
New NSFW, Extremely Graphic, Adults-Only Poster For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' New NSFW, Extremely Graphic, Adults-Only Poster For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' First Official Look: Jared Leto As The Joker In 'Suicide Squad' First Official Look: Jared Leto As The Joker In 'Suicide Squad' Joss Whedon Says He Earned More Making 'Dr. Horrible' Than 'The Avengers,' Weighs In On Marvel Vs. DC Joss Whedon Says He Earned More Making 'Dr. Horrible' Than 'The Avengers,' Weighs In On Marvel Vs. DC Tom Hardy Met Mel Gibson And Made Him A Bracelet, Says Michael Fassbender Was "The Sh*t" In School Tom Hardy Met Mel Gibson And Made Him A Bracelet, Says Michael Fassbender Was "The Sh*t" In School Native Actors Walk Off Set Of Adam Sandler's 'Ridiculous 6' Over Disrespectful, Insulting Script Native Actors Walk Off Set Of Adam Sandler's 'Ridiculous 6' Over Disrespectful, Insulting Script Watch: Johnny Depp Rages As Whitey Bulger In First Trailer For Gangster Tale 'Black Mass' Watch: Johnny Depp Rages As Whitey Bulger In First Trailer For Gangster Tale 'Black Mass' Gaspar Noe's 3D 'Love' And More Added To Cannes Film Festival Lineup Gaspar Noe's 3D 'Love' And More Added To Cannes Film Festival Lineup First Look: Johnny Depp Goes Gangster In As Whitey Bulger In 'Black Mass' First Look: Johnny Depp Goes Gangster In As Whitey Bulger In 'Black Mass' Watch: Tom Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio, Anne Hathaway, Michael Fassbender And More Talk The Art Of Acting Watch: Tom Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio, Anne Hathaway, Michael Fassbender And More Talk The Art Of Acting Review: Marvel’s ‘Avengers: Age Of Ultron’ Starring Robert Downey Jr. Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson & More Review: Marvel’s ‘Avengers: Age Of Ultron’ Starring Robert Downey Jr. Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson & More Watch: Quentin Tarantino, David Fincher, Christopher Nolan, And More Talk The Art Of Filmmaking Watch: Quentin Tarantino, David Fincher, Christopher Nolan, And More Talk The Art Of Filmmaking Christopher Nolan's Favorite Sequence From His Movies Is The Airplane Kidnapping Scene From 'The Dark Knight Rises' Christopher Nolan's Favorite Sequence From His Movies Is The Airplane Kidnapping Scene From 'The Dark Knight Rises' Joss Whedon Calls Edgar Wright's 'Ant-Man' "The Best Script Marvel Ever Had," Warns Of Serialized Moviemaking Joss Whedon Calls Edgar Wright's 'Ant-Man' "The Best Script Marvel Ever Had," Warns Of Serialized Moviemaking The 41 Most Anticipated Movies Of Summer 2015 The 41 Most Anticipated Movies Of Summer 2015 Watch: First Teaser For 'Star Wars: Rogue One,' Plot Details Confirmed Watch: First Teaser For 'Star Wars: Rogue One,' Plot Details Confirmed The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki

George Miller Says He Approached 'Happy Feet 2' With The Same Respect As Classic Fairy Tales

The Playlist By Todd Gilchrist | The Playlist November 16, 2011 at 10:01AM

Looking at the billboards and advertising for “Happy Feet 2,” there’s no mistaking those vivid images of DayGlo, tap-dancing penguins for anything other than entertainment aimed at, well, everyone. But writer-director George Miller is interested in more than making another mainstream blockbuster, even if it does feature animated animals whose voices are provided by movie and pop stars. “The last thing you want is for your film to be like every other film,” Miller told The Playlist in an interview last week. “So I try to find what’s interesting out there in the world. Clearly they’re anthropomorphic fables which are basically metaphors for the way we are in the world, and you try to make them as interesting as you can.”
0
Happy Feet 2

Looking at the billboards and advertising for “Happy Feet 2,” there’s no mistaking those vivid images of DayGlo, tap-dancing penguins for anything other than entertainment aimed at, well, everyone. But writer-director George Miller is interested in more than making another mainstream blockbuster, even if it does feature animated animals whose voices are provided by movie and pop stars. “The last thing you want is for your film to be like every other film,” Miller told The Playlist in an interview last week. “So I try to find what’s interesting out there in the world. Clearly they’re anthropomorphic fables which are basically metaphors for the way we are in the world, and you try to make them as interesting as you can.”

Over the past two decades, Miller has become one of the most successful, if unlikely, purveyors of film for family-friendly audiences. After producing the first “Babe,” he directed the second, and then helmed two “Happy Feet” installments, the latest of which is due out on Friday. But having come from the decidedly grown-up “Mad Max” films, Miller said he was always interested in doing more with his movies than just making money – especially if they were series or sequels. “I think that what tends to happen when people do sequels or when they work in animation or kids’ films, is in a lot of cases it feels like people are kind of phoning it in in a way,” he said. “But you have to treat them the way you do any kind of film.”

Happy Feet 2

In almost all of the films above, Miller injected a subversive or unusual edge to the characters or storytelling, creating stories that avoided familiar conventions but still felt completely satisfying. But he indicated that while he wants each project to be unique and make full use of his creativity, he isn’t deliberately trying to sneak weird or eccentric ideas into them. “Once you’re going and into the process, you’re kind of just going on instinct,” he explained. “There’s no conscious intent to be subversive. It’s just trying to make it interesting and perhaps fresher than people might have seen before.”

In fact, Miller said that he sees his films in something of the same tradition as the fables and fairy tales that most of us read as children – which, he reminded, often had their own oddball, intense and unusual ideas. “I think you have to treat these stories with very tremendous respect,” Miller said. “If you look at the anthology of the great, enduring stories, they have a tremendous complexity and depth to them. And if you look at the fairy tale stories that pretty universally endure, like 'Hansel & Gretel' and some of them, they’re pretty serious, and the ones you remember from childhood, they’re not trivial.”

Happy Feet 2

“Like, among my top two or three films of all time is ‘Pinocchio’,” Miller revealed. “I’m talking about the Disney version, and on the surface of things, it looks like a kids’ movie and it’s got iconic characters we all know. But the depth of that film is extraordinary; it’s a film that as I’ve watched it through my life, my perceptions have shifted.” He explained that the film affected him differently at different times in his life, which gave the film a continued sense of universality and relevance. “As a child, I was really struck by its cautionary tale, the idea that you need a conscience, and when Pinocchio was taken down the wrong track and ended up smoking and playing too much pool and he ends up with ears and braying like a donkey and then has to redeem himself. And as an adult the yearning of Gepetto for a child such that he makes his own wooden child, these are powerful, mythological things going on here.”

“And Dr. Seuss I think has a lot of great content and subtext and so on,” Miller added. “So what I’m saying is that I don’t feel that when I do these ‘Happy Feet’ or the ‘Babe’ [films] I’m doing a sort of more trivial or lesser work.”

Happy Feet 2

Among Miller’s more adult-oriented projects is an upcoming reboot of “Mad Max” entitled “Fury Road,” which we reported on late last week. But the acclaimed filmmaker said that extenuating circumstances--not a lack of interest--prevented him from taking on that film or some of the others to which he’s been attached in recent years. “There’s a lot of other stories that I want to tell, but everything keeps on getting in the way,” he observed. “Twice now I’ve tried to get ‘Fury Road,’ the new ‘Mad Max’ movie made, and we were about to begin shooting at the beginning of the year, and we’ve had unprecedented rains in the Australian deserts, and what was a flat, red, dry wasteland is literally now a flower garden. The great salt lakes in the center where we were going to be shooting are now full of pelicans and fish. So we’re going to Naimibia next year to shoot, and I’m looking forward to that.”

Although that film was obviously gestating for several years, Miller said that ultimately his approach to continuing to tell stories – be they “Mad Max,” “Happy Feet,” or something else – is largely intuitive, and it’s got to come from genuine inspiration. “In the second one, when I saw the first one’s elephant seals, I knew I wanted to see elephant seals,” he remembered. “The krill idea came and I thought that was a real interesting way to look at that world – from that dimension. From their point of view, this was an epic universe. And to see Mumbles having to deal with, like, speed-parenting because the world is changing so rapidly, that all came full of potential immediately.”

But don't ask him just yet about a third installment. “But right now, I couldn’t think of another film,” he said. “If someone put a gun up to my head and said come up with a third ‘Happy Feet,’ I wouldn’t have a clue.”

"Happy Feet 2" opens on November 18th.

This article is related to: Happy Feet 2, George Miller


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates