Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) Poster


Jump to: Director Cameo (1) | Director Trademark (1) | Spoilers (7)
Wes Anderson chose to have the actors record their dialogue outside of a studio and on location to increase the naturalness: "We went out in a forest, went in an attic, went in a stable... we went underground for some things. There was a great spontaneity in the recordings because of that."
The original story was written at a dark time in Roald Dahl's life. He had already lost one of his five children to measles and witnessed another one suffer from water on the brain as the result of a car accident. It was only natural that he would be spurred on to write a tale portraying the father as a protector of the family.
The color scheme of the movie is primarily autumnal (yellows, oranges, and browns) with virtually no green and blue. However, Kristofferson's blue-colored wardrobe was intentional, as it emphasized his being a visiting outsider.
Altogether, 535 puppets were made for the film. Mr. Fox had 17 different styles alone, and each of Mr. Fox's styles had to be done in six different sizes. He has 102 puppets alone.
When Mr. Fox and Kylie are in Fox's study going over the plans for the first heist, Fox is sitting in a large armchair with a board on the armrests that he is using as a table for his microphone. This is exactly how Roald Dahl used to write his stories based on old photographs.
Shot digitally using a Nikon D3, which offers a significantly higher resolution than even that of full High Definition. It was also shot at a frame rate of 12 frames per second, rather than the more fluid 24, so that viewers would notice the medium of stop-motion itself.
During one of the outdoor dialogue recording sessions, a best take was almost ruined by the sound of a nearby boat. Open to the randomness, Wes Anderson modified the scene in the film to include an airplane flying through the shot. Anderson said, "I think it was better with the airplane than without... a flaw in the recording gave us a new idea."
Roald Dahl's "Fantastic Mr. Fox" was the first book Wes Anderson owned. His mother, Texas Ann Burroughs, bought it for him at the St. Francis book fair in Austin, Texas when he was about seven years old. Anderson has kept this same copy on his bookshelf ever since.
CGI is only used in one scene, the flooding of the flint mine.
This movie is composed of almost 56,000 shots.
Anderson wanted to use real animal hair for all of the animal puppets, even though it meant that the hair would appear to ripple unnaturally in the film due to the puppeteers handling the models between frames. This rippling was apparently intentional.
Ash's ear twitching was based on a gesture most foxes (and domestic canines)do to show aggression and/or displeasure.
The look of the film was inspired by Great Missenden, a village in Buckinghamshire, England, where Roald Dahl lived and worked. The tree where the Fox family lives is based on a prominent beech tree on Dahl's property, and Mr Fox's study recreates in minute detail the interior of the famous garden hut in which Dahl did most of his writing.
Throughout the film, the word "cuss" is used in place of actual cursing. When asked about its origin in a radio interview on "Fresh Air" with Terry Gross, Wes Anderson said, "I don't even remember. I think it was just to use the concept of profanity as a replacement for profanity itself. It turned out to be very versatile." In keeping with this theme, one of the buildings seen in the film bears "CUSS" written as spray-painted graffiti.
It took 7 months to perfect the very first Mr. Fox puppet.
Kristofferson's unaccompanied minor badge reads, "Name: Kristofferson Silverfox. Height: 42cm (tall - for a cub). Weight: 3.5kg. Allergies: None. Reason for travel: Ill father."
For the moving water, Wes Anderson used Saran Wrap, and for the smoke, cotton balls.
The last film to use the 20th Century Fox logo from 1994.
The film was critically acclaimed and even had a held-over run from Thanksgiving all the way through the 2009 holiday season, but was not a huge hit financially, and not all that popular with general audiences.
Wes Anderson's first family film. Although, it still contains many of the trademarks of his live-action films, family dysfunction, colorful palettes, etc.
This is Wes Anderson's first film that did not feature one of his signature slow motion sequences.
Roald Dahl allegedly fashioned Mr Fox after himself.
The characters seem to break the fourth wall by being able to read the title cards for each scene, Ash seems to know what Mr. Fox and Kylie are up to from reading the title card for the scene, and Nathan Bunce seems to be reading the time card that says how long Mr. Fox and his friends and family have gone without food or water, prompting to ask how long they can go without any.
The train that can be seen passing in the background sometimes is the same one in Ash's bedroom. Its scale was changed using the previously obsolete film technique of forced perspective.
In the months preceding the opening of the film, controversy arose concerning the little time that director Wes Anderson actually spent on set, choosing to direct the animation via e-mail from his flat in Paris. In an October 2009 Los Angeles Times article, cinematographer Tristan Oliver was quoted as saying, "I think he's a little O.C.D. Contact with people disturbs him. This way, he can spend an entire day locked inside an empty room with a computer. He's a bit like The Wizard of Oz (1939). Behind the curtain." Informed of Oliver's discontent, Anderson said, "I would say that kind of crosses the line for what's appropriate for the director of photography to say behind the director's back while he's working on the movie. So I don't even want to respond to it." On the Wes Anderson fan website The Rushmore Academy (named after Anderson's film Rushmore (1998),) Oliver criticized the article's tone, stating that it made him out to be a villain: "Yes, working with Wes can be frustrating but that is true of any director and I've worked with a hundred who were more irritating and less motivated than Wes. So let's just lay to rest the ghost of this particular myth and oh, it would be nice if the death threats stopped too. Thanks."
In the original book, humans and animals never directly interact with one other, so it is never clear if they can understand each other. Here, they clearly can, when Mr. Fox asks Bean if he brought the boy, Bean replies, and clearly understands him.
Felicity (Mrs. Fox) was named after Roald Dahl's widow.
20th Century Fox did consider making Mr. Fox the company mascot, but decided not to, because of how the idea was too similar to a joke once made on Matt Groening's The Simpsons.
According to Henry Selick, Wes Anderson would act out scenes while in Paris and send them to the animators via his iPhone.
The song Mole plays on the piano is actually Art Tatum's recording of the Cole Porter song "Night and Day". The use of this recording is something of an inside joke, as Tatum was blind and moles are known for having very poor vision.
The human characters' hair was actual human hair collected from studio employees at MacKinnon & Saunders, the company that manufactured the puppets for the film.
Bean has more than a passing resemblance to Roald Dahl.
The source material makes up roughly an hour of the film's running time before going into a tangent of its own story that is Wes Anderson's own ideas.
When Ash and Mr. Fox are in the sewer talking, Ash is sitting still staring down the viewer. This is what is commonly known as the "Kubrick stare". A technique developed by Stanley Kubrick, and the director would often use it when a character had to be intimidating or unsettling.
Portions of the audio version of the book can be heard in the film. The music Nathan Bunce is listening to, when Mr. Fox first steals from his farm, is the theme music from the audio book.
The inspiration for the naming of the character Kristofferson came from singer, songwriter and actor Kris Kristofferson, not only because both Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach are fans of his work, but also because they simply liked the name.
Several bits of dialogue come word-for-word from the original story. For example, "got the tail, but missed the fox".
According to Meryl Streep, when she was in London filming Mamma Mia! (2008) in summer 2007, she stayed in an apartment block in central London, and one night she noticed a fox out of her bathroom window. Both Streep and the fox, stone still, stared at each other for twelve minutes. Mesmerized by this experience, she used it as inspiration for her performance.
Mr. Fox's wardrobe was based on Wes Anderson's own brown corduroy suits.
The noticeable pauses and slower action in the stop motion is an homage to the Rankin Bass Stop motion holiday specials of the 60's and 70's.
The film was one of the first films to require "Smoking" as one of its content reasons in its rating information.
Mr. Fox's implanting of sleeping powder into blueberries for unsuspecting guard dogs to consume was taken from another Roald Dahl book, 'Danny, the Champion of the World', in which raisins were used similarly on unsuspecting pheasants. When the Dahl attorneys learned of this, they wanted it removed. But, because it had already been filmed, Wes Anderson pleaded with them and was able to keep it in the film.
George Clooney's first starring role in animated film.
The American Cathedral in Paris's choir were hired to sing the "Boggis, Bunce and Bean" limerick. They were recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London, England, in Studio Two, which is most famous for having been where The Beatles recorded almost all of their music.
Film debut of chef Mario Batali, who voices Rabbit. Rabbit wears an orange neckerchief, which echoes Batali's penchant for wearing orange shorts and Crocs. On the Fox Searchlight website for the film, there was even a recipe made available, courtesy of Batali, for Mrs. Bean's Famous Nutmeg Ginger Apple Snaps.
Mr. Fox bares his teeth when scared, which is true to a real fox's instinctive behavior.
Premiered two days after Where the Wild Things Are (2009). Both films are based on popular children's books and directed by cult indie directors.
The titles and text used in the production design are in Helvetica Bold. All previous Wes Anderson movies have utilized Futura Bold.
One of two films released in 2009 to feature a talking fox. The other was Lars von Trier's controversial Antichrist (2009). Both films feature actor Willem Dafoe. And both have been released by the Criterion Collection.
The character of Kylie was based on a handyman (named Kylie) who was living in Wes Anderson's New York apartment when he purchased it from the painter Larry Rivers: "After I bought it, he continued to live there while the place was gutted, but eventually I had to ask him to move out."
Agnes is played by Wes Anderson's girlfriend, Juman Malouf.
To keep their contents from evaporating, the test tubes in the science lab scene were all filled with fruit jelly with a various assortment of colors.
The film's cinematography has a lot of homages to classic 2D traditional animation, such as the flat dimensional perspective, and the panning down shots such as those in the fox's tree and the sewer.
Early versions of the film cast Jarvis Cocker as an on-screen narrator, which baffled test audiences. Cocker said in an interview with the Observer, "I may turn up as a DVD extra in the future." In the theatrical cut, Cocker's spoken (not sung) dialogue is reduced to one line.
When reciting the Latin names of each animal, Mr. Fox says he doesn't know the one for opossum. It is Didelphis virginiana.
The first animated film distributed by Regency Pictures, the first stop-motion animated film for 20th Century Fox, and the first animated film for Fox Searchlight Pictures since Waking Life (2001).
Development began in 2004 at Revolution Studios between Wes Anderson and animation director Henry Selick, who had worked with Anderson on The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) (and who had directed another stop-motion animated film based on a Roald Dahl work, James and the Giant Peach (1996).) When Revolution folded, Selick left the project to direct Coraline (2009), and was replaced by Mark Gustafson.
Though the cover of Ash's comic reads "White Cape Vs. Black Dog", there is speculation that he is actually reading Art Spiegelman's Mauser. The pages inside are very similar in color and design to Maus, and a picture on the back is a direct image from the book itself.
Mr Fox's suits were modeled on the same suits that Wes Anderson wears, with the animators obtaining fabric swatches from Anderson's tailor.
The text seen on the paper that Mr. Fox is reading (the one that contains the advertisement for Bandit Hats) consists of parts from the book.
Kylie's World Traveler Titanium Card (which he lends to Mr. Fox to open a deadbolt lock) has the number "3737 321345 61008". Valid from 10/06 to 10/10, it also gives his full name as "Kylie Sven Opossum".
Two songs from Disney productions can be heard in the film; one is "Love" from Disney's Robin Hood, a film that also features anthropomorphic animals and specifically main characters that are foxes.
Although widely well-received, the film did not do well enough to recoup production costs. As a result, no other Roald Dahl adaptations were made until The BFG (2016).
At one point during production, Wes Anderson had 29 units all working simultaneously for him.
The posters hanging on the walls in the science lab were all painted with translucent materials. This way, they would light up when the scene was shot.
Tim Burton and Henry Selick were both attached to the production at different times Both had worked on stop motion animation before.
The voices were recorded at a farm house in Connecticut, which was owned by a friend of director Wes Anderson. Willem Dafoe's dialogue, however, was recorded in Paris at a later date.
Asterisks are a recurring visual throughout the film. They can be seen in the unconscious beagles' eyes, on Kylie's palm around the blueberry note, on the motorcycle ramp, and on Bean's apples, among other places.
Before he runs up the man hole, Rabbit blesses himself saying "domino Santa Maria", a prayer to the Virgin Mary in Latin.
Roald Dahl is one of Wes Anderson's heroes.
During the battle in the town near the end of the film, we see the signs of several businesses. One sign, "Dutronc Detective", is in the same shape and neon style as a well-known sign in Paris, "Duluc Détective". As Wes Anderson directed much of the film from Paris, it is certainly possible that he saw this distinctive sign and wanted to reference it in the film. The name references Jacques Dutronc, French musician and actor.
According to an interview Wes Anderson for 'The Treatment' with Elvis Mitchell, the look of the film was inspired by the artwork by Donald Chaffin for the original book by Roald Dahl.
The door in the science lab reads: "Co-ed, all species / ELEMENTARY CHEMISTRY / Grade: 6 ¾ / Miss Muskrat's Class".
Third adaptation of a Roald Dahl Story to be done using animation and the second to use stop motion animation.
The character Petey is modeled after Jarvis Cocker, the lead singer of the band Pulp; he bears a physical resemblance and even performs his unique dance moves.
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When the rat is approaching Ash with the bag he is moving his hands from side to side while snapping his fingers. This references one of the classic moments in cinema West Side Story (1961) when the gang members approach the camera during the Jet Song.
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The red façade of the "Little Theatre" in the scene where Mr. Fox throws burning pines is modeled after the real Little Theatre in Bath, Somerset, England.
The villains seem to be modified from their original personalities in the book. Walter Boggis and Nathan Bunce stay calm and collected through most of the film; Franklin Bean loses his temper and has an outburst only once. There is no mention of Bean being filthy and smelly from never washing or bathing as it was described in the book. He also seems to have all his teeth, unlike the book, which hinted at his missing some.
When Mr. Fox finds the "Bandit Hat Sale" on the newspaper, the surrounding text is the original Mr. Fox story.
This is the second time a George Clooney character lies about being a thief while winning the girl back by taking a chance with "one last job". The first time was Danny Ocean in Ocean's Eleven (2001).
The second animated feature film to enter the Criterion Collection after Akira (1988). However, it was the first animated film to be available on Criterion since the Blu-Ray upgrades.
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Featured in the film are three songs sung by Burl Ives. Ives voiced Sam the Snowman in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964), a stop-motion animated production by Rankin-Bass that influenced the style of this film. Furthermore, all three of the songs featured in the film were first released on Ives' 1960 album "Burl Ives Sings Little White Duck and Other Children's Favorites".
To protect his costume between shooting, the lower half of Ash's body had to be wrapped in cling film.
Despite being the secondary and tertiary villains, Boggis and Bunce only say 3-4 lines each for 4 scenes, and they have the least lines of the entire main cast.
The gun held by Franklin Bean is an Artillery Luger, which is a rare German 9mm Luger produced in World Wars I and II, that included an 8-inch barrel, a removable stock, and a 32 round drum magazine.
Franklin Bean's walkie-talkie is almost identical to the U.S. BC-611 (or SCR-536), which saw widespread use in World War II, and was the first hand-held two-way radio.
At one time, it was rumored that Brad Pitt would make a voice cameo appearance. During the making of the film, Wes Anderson directed Pitt in a 30-second TV advertisement for Japanese cellphone company Softbank Mobile.
The original illustrations by Quentin Blake made the farmers (especially Bean) look more like stereotypical "hicks", dressed in grimy overalls and caps, as opposed to the more refined and country-squire designs featured in the film.
It was rumored that Cate Blanchett was originally the voice of Mrs. Fox, but was replaced by Meryl Streep. According to Wes Anderson, however, he had spoken to Blanchett about the part around the time of filming The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004), but never got further than that: "I think that was on the Internet before it was really meant to be. For a long time there were versions of the cast out there that were not very accurate."
Film debut of Hugo Guinness, who voices Nathan Bunce. Wes Anderson is a fan of Guinness, a British artist whose work can be seen on the walls of the Tenenbaums' house in The Royal Tenenbaums (2001).
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The exterior of the cinema in the town is based on, and closely resembles The Little Theatre in Bath, Somerset, England.
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In the beginning when Mr. Fox and Felicity are infiltrating the farm, three different sized puppets are used.
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Marks the first appearance of The Beach Boys' music in a Wes Anderson film. Anderson had originally thought of using their recording of "Sloop John B" for the final scene in The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), but later changed his mind.
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Lost both the Oscars it was nominated for to Pixar's Up (2009).
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The version of "Ol' Man River" by The Beach Boys used in the film is actually a combination of two versions: the first half is taken from the 2002 rarities compilation "Hawthorne, CA: Birthplace of a Musical Legacy" (which is the version available on the "Fantastic Mr. Fox" soundtrack,) while the second half is taken from a medley entitled "Old Folks At Home/Ol' Man River", available on the "Friends/20/20" two-fer.
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Production began in London in 2007.
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The film cast includes three Oscar winners: George Clooney, Meryl Streep and Adrien Brody; and eight Oscar nominees: Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, Owen Wilson, Hugo Guinness, Roman Coppola, Jeremy Dawson, Steven Rales and Wes Anderson.
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The song "Looking For A Fox" by Clarence Carter was featured in the first trailer, though it doesn't appear in the film.
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The launch film for the 2009 London Film Festival.
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Director Cameo 

Wes Anderson: as the voice of the real estate agent weasel.

Director Trademark 

Wes Anderson: [The Rolling Stones] Features "Street Fighting Man".


The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Rat's death was almost re-shot because the MPAA thought it showed a rat bleeding to death and Mr. Fox making him drink his own blood (it was sewer sludge).
Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach worked on the screenplay at Gipsy House, which was Roald Dahl's estate. They added a new beginning and ending, adapting the latter part of the story, (the war scenario), as the main plot. Unsatified with the book's ending, they found that the author's original manuscript contained a different ending, with sketches, taking place in a supermarket. Anderson later said, "That was awfully lucky, because we needed a new ending".
When Ash is talking to Agnes at the Whackbat field, there is a plane in the background announcing the grand opening of the Boggis, Bunce, and Bean Supermarket, which we later see them in towards the end of the film.
The scene in which Rat and Mr. Fox fight to the death originally included Rat making reference to his wristwatch, stating, "I've still got the watch. She never asked for it back.", referring to Mrs. Fox. The dialogue was inspired by an actual onstage aside from Keith Richards to Eric Clapton at a rehearsal of a concert staged by Sheryl Crow, which was witnessed by Wes Anderson. However, the scene was ultimately changed for the final film.
In the closing scene at the supermarket, all are drinking Bean's Apple Juice boxes, except for Ash who is drinking Grape Juice. This is just another way which Ash is "different".
At one point in the film, Mrs. Fox tells Ash that he has "29 minutes to come up with a proper apology" for Kristofferson. In terms of the film's run time, his apology actually occurs approximately 39 minutes later.
When everyone toasts with juice boxes in the supermarket at the end of the film, Ash is the only one holding a grape juice box, as opposed to the others' apple juice boxes.

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