609. A Grand Day Out – Nick Park

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SUMMARY: When they find themselves dangerously low on cheese, inventor Wallace and his long-suffering dog Gromit decide to build a rocket and spend their bank holiday on the moon.

WHY IT’S HERE: Aardmann Animations’ ‘A Grand Day Out’ established Nick Park’s most popular creations, the quintessentially British duo Wallace and Gromit, but the film was originally begun as a student project in 1982. During the seven years it took to complete, Park was taken on by Aardman and allowed to continue working on the short on a part-time basis. Though it has dated in comparison with the pair’s subsequent adventures, ‘A Grand Day Out’ is still a remarkable piece of work. It is more surreal and less narratively strong than later adventures and Wallace and Gromit are not quite fully developed but, given that this was a graduation film, it really is an incredible piece of work. Park’s intention has been to pack a lot more plot into the short, with a cast of aliens who throw Wallace in prison, necessitating a jailbreak by Gromit. The aspirations of this kind of adventure plot would soon be realised in Park’s subsequent shorts with the duo but, upon being told by his Aardman colleague that the creation of so much action would take about 9 years, Park rewrote the film with a simpler, somewhat bizarre story of a coin-operated stove who wants to take up skiing! Despite these compromises, ‘A Grand Day Out’ is a lovely piece of work and still extremely popular, regularly airing on TV alongside the subsequent Wallace and Gromit films.

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