Tara Bennett's Pictorial Essay on the Rio Films from Titan Press
The hit animated Rio films are incredibly uplifting with their exotic, colour charged milieu and depiction of the glorious flora and fauna of that most colourful of countries, Brazil. The hit musicals carry us along on the adventures of the Blue Maccaws Blu and Jewel, how they met and fell in love and produced three beautiful offspring and in the sequel, in theatres now, how they pitched in to help save the Amazon rainforest. The film isn’t preachy but it is fun and informative and absolutely gorgeous to look at.
The story inspires us not only through the beauty of nature in that region but also to understand the threats against the ancient, life giving forest called “the lungs of the world”. The rare birds and animals of the forest live there as they have for countless years, but loggers are chipping away at their very existence, cutting down the trees that provide them with habitat, oxygen and food. The loggers understand one thing – money. The animals must find a way to stop them.
And of course the magic of Rio and the Amazon is partly in its colourful energy and beauty. The film’s settings are alive with colour and light, at its tropical, equatorial best. It is infused with brilliant oranges, blues, yellows and reds, while the birds and animals fit right in with glowing costumes. It’s hard to take all this beauty in a single screening.
Between the high panoramic shots of Rio De Janiero, the ocean, the jungles and the wonderful creature characters voiced by among others Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Jemaine Clement, Jamie Foxx and Kristin Chenoweth, there is plenty to see per frame. Part hyper realism and part cartoon fantasy, the look and feel of the movie is full and unforgettable.
A hefty companion tabletop book The Art of Rio is in stores, now, with 300 pieces of concept art, character sketches, storyboards and digital paintings, and interviews with the key animation talent. It reveals the artistry and inspiration behind the movies, the process and the original and eye-popping results.
Filmmaker Carlos Saldanha tells me he had personal reasons to make the film. “I had to tell a story of where I come from and the cultural things was fun to do and important to me even though its Brazilians expressly down for the whole world and I wanted to get what I felt was important to me to convey. I’ve seen animated films set in China, France, and thought why not Brazil? It's a thriving, colourful, vital cultural city and I owned it.”