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  Directed by
  • Widescreen 1.78:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • Cast/crew biographies
  • Production notes
  • Photo gallery
  • Animated menus
  • 2 TV spot
  • Awards/Nominations
  • Storyboards
  • Documentaries
  • Outtakes
  • Music-only track

Leunig Animated: CE

Madman Entertainment/AV Channel . R4 . COLOR . 46 mins . G . PAL


You can’t help but wonder if cartoonist cum poet cum philosopher cum just plain brilliant bloke Michael Leunig ever feels that the word “whimsy” and its many variants that seem to haunt him like some sort of haunty thing from the depths of haunty places is an annoyance. For if ever any one person has had a monopoly on that particular adjective, he must be they.

His cartoons have been around basically as long as I have (which is quite long enough, thankyou all the same), and have been the cause of much wonderment, laughter, melancholy, head scratching and utter confusion within that time. I daresay I am not the only person to have been dragged through such a cavalcade of emotions by the man’s work, which is actually a really dumb statement when you consider just how popular his creations are – selling library loads of books, and, of course, making that behemoth-like newspaper The Age worth the effort of struggling to recall forgotten origami tricks learned in primary school in order to get just one more fix.

Until recently his works were pretty much always static, and whilst this left much for us to pinball about our playful imaginations, it did leave a big question unanswered. Just how could anybody bring his gloriously capricious world of big-nosed little philosophers to life and retain the magic?

Well, assemble one producer who moonlights as an actor (or is that the other way ‘round?) named Bryan Brown - a man with an obvious love of Leunig’s work, SBS and some other film-type peoples with money to offer, a narrator in Sam Neill, two respected comedians and actors to give voices to those cute little characters in Julie McGregor and Steve Rodgers and most importantly a team of amazingly visionary creative folks in Freerange Animation, people willing to put in zillions of hours of work with little clay figures and big clay backdrops, and that’s pretty much how it’s done. The choice of claymation to inject the life into these 50 one-minute (or thereabouts) animations could not have been more perfect. Sure you can imagine it all done in 2D watercolour perhaps, or de-souled by being digitised into computers and made all smooth and rendery. But why be limited by such predictability, when in the end a sort of hybrid combination of all could be utilised? Sure it would have taken a hell of a lot more work, however the often breathtaking results – the intricacy and amazing character of the models - speak for themselves. You don’t have to be a genius at all that mathematics stuff to work out that with 25 still shots making up just one second of animation, and with around 45 minutes of finished animation on offer here that that’s one, two, three, four – lots of hours of incredibly arduous work. It was, however, certainly worth it.

Divided into five loose classifications – Melancholy, Playful, Ironic, Bliss and that word we mentioned a way back there, Whimsy, these animations truly capture the magic, the mystery, the vulnerability and variations of all that other groovy stuff Leunig’s creations conjure up in our minds. From the saddest man in the world to weeing on butterflies; knowing the ways of the duck to learning the facts of life from chickens; to the perils of quilt rage and uses for a tired husband, there’s plenty to tickle funny bones of any ethnicity, not to mention tug on the odd heartstring, conjure the odd tear and feed every nook and cranny of those pink, squishy, lumpy things that reside in our noggins.

Some may think it couldn’t be pulled off successfully, however with Leunig himself being dragged kicking and screaming from his quiet country existence to have final approval on what Freerange did whilst babysitting his many fabulous offspring, quality was assured from the start. And believe me, this presentation simply oozes the stuff (quality that is) – with perhaps the only annoyance to break the enchantment being the insertion of credits at the end of each little episode. Still, at least we can turn off the repeated introductions (of which there are only two varieties) if we so desire.


Behold lovely visions of enhanced 16:9
With the number 1.78:1 it’s really divine.
Vast worlds of colour so rich and palletic
Give visions that dance and are oh so balletic.
There’s nothing that’s nasty to muck up our view
No blockies, no specks – not one visual poo.
With all the love that went into every still frame
It’s lovely to tell you it’s all come together utterly beautifully and anybody who can find anything to complain about here is a big, fat, hairy, ugly whiny pants who needs to get out a lot more.


When these little wonders were made for TV
They were given soundtracks of just stereo Dolby.
But now that they’ve travelled so far to round disc
They’ve also been treated with 5.1 tricks.
Our subwoofwoofs grumble at times when they should
and needn’t do more if even they could.
The music is from a gent who is Hylton Mowday
It suits all it partners so well – hip hooray!
Now behold all the storms and the drips as they glitter
The chooks and the rain and the birds all a twitter.
The audio’s all gorgeous, it engulfs and surrounds us
It’s perfectly clear and sounds really quite marvellous. So there!


Coming very much in the shape of a two-disc ‘Collector’s Edition’ in a fabulously arty, but not necessarily long-lastingly sturdy cardboard foldout thingy in a slipcase, Leunig Animated features a number of bonus goodies scattered across the two little shiny platters held within. Both feature wonderful duck-infused menus with animated introductions and all the things which appear as moving images are in a ratio of 1.78:1 and are enhanced for those lucky ducks who can afford 16:9 televisions just like I can’t...

Disc One
Production: This first port of call in the extra bits department opens up a number of options. Stop number one is original cartoons, which gives us four of Leunig’s creations from the main presentation in static form scattered across a number of screens. Next up is a series of quite thorough production notes - 15 pages thorough to be precise – and they do what production notes tend to rather nicely, by giving us notes on the production. Moseying along a bit further we come to production stills, which as the more astute out there may rightfully assume is a photo gallery, in this case featuring 20 piccies from behind the scenes. Completing this trip into the land of production is a little thingy entitled Freerange, which is in fact a brief biography of sorts on the animation company of Andrew Horne and Deborah Szapiro which just so happens to be called Freerange.

Awards: Such a lonely little section, with nought but two pages of text listing some shiny trophy-like objects the production has deservedly had bestowed upon it, including the rather lovely-sounding ‘Most Hilarious Film’ award.

Biographies: Lots of words about some of the names to do with Leunig Animated, this includes four pages on Mr Sam Neill, two on Mr Steve Rodgers, three on Mr Hylton Mowday, six on some bloke with the name of Mr Bryan Brown and a gimongous 11 on the bloke they named this whole shebang after – including a delightfully thorough little bibliography of his works that are available in book form.

Madman Propaganda: It seems the wearer of the straitjacket just may be somewhat in awe of this disc’s content, with nothing more than a static plug for this very disc itself.

Easter egg: Oh goody! Those adventurous souls prepared to go on a duck hunt may end up privy to a secret look at the re-recording of the sound into Dolby Digital 5.1 for this release. In a fit of quite sensible understatement and laudable straight-to-the-pointedness it happens to be entitled Making of the 5.1 Audio for the DVD, and instructions on how to discover it – for those who sadly lack that certain adventurous spirit – can be found floating about in a section of our site especially designed as a sanctuary for eggs of the Easter-like variety.

Disc Two
Documentary – The Animated Leunig: This would be the meaty – or veggie if you prefer – part of this disc, lasting for a pleasingly stretchy 55 minutes and 28 seconds – no more and no less. Serving up a quite personal insight into the life of dear Mr Leunig juxtaposed with a look at the massive effort behind bringing his family of worried little folk to glorious clay-life, the two bits sort of smush together somewhere to give a wonderfully coherent look at the whole kit and caboodle that is Leunig Animated. We get interviews with all manner of folk behind the scenes as well as those who have had cause to cross paths with Mr Leunig in their time, have sneaky peeks at the sound recording and production meetings and see set designers set designing and painting and modelling and cutting and planing and tweaking and all the sorts of super stuff that set designers set to when they set design.

Multi-Languages: An opportunity to go multicultural awaits with nine of the 50 animations presented in a variety of different languages, to be more exacting about it all these just so happen to be... Greek, Italian, Arabic, Vietnamese, Cantonese, Spanish, Hungarian, Portuguese and Japanese, but no Swahili. Oh well.

Out takes: Six bits showing the world around the world of the main features are here to behold, but be quick and don’t blink or you may be missing a lot. Three are of the time lapse variety, showing just how much love and devotion goes into creating such animation, whilst the other three are a tad more playful – which is, of course, a quality to treasure. All up they total a running time of approximately almost around exactly two minutes and two seconds – which is a nice round number indeed.

Additional Music: Four compositions from Mr Mowday, these short presentations will light up your day. They may have no pictures to laugh at or cry, but you’d be rather silly to let them go by. Umm, all unlistened to like.

TV spots: All spiffily titled TVC 1 and TVC 2, these two 31 second spots are quite obviously designed to make people want to go out and buy this collection – which is, of course, a fine example of capitalism at work.



Oh, you want more? Well... if you’ve been lucky enough to fall under the spell of Leunig’s work then this is a wondrous and very special creation worthy of pride of place on that shelf of DVDs you treasure ever so fondly. The care gone into all aspects of the presentation is more obvious than the nose on the face of one of the little blokes (or sheilas!) that inhabit these little gems, and although it isn’t one big cohesive story or the like, as a whole it all makes a certain type of cuddly sense – if you’re a fan you’ll know what I mean...

And remember, sometimes all that you need in life is a darned good duck. QUACK!

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      And I quote...
    "A wondrous and very special creation... QUACK!"
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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