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Why can My Life as a Courgette grab the hearts of an amazing amount of people?

My Life as a Courgette is the animated film in which I sympathized with the characters and I was touched by the most in 2016. I believe that you would be pleasantly surprised by how much you can understand and share the emotions of the children in the film.

I think that the first reason for this is that this film is spoken from the point of view of orphans themselves, not from adults or a third person, which enable us to feel exactly what the children are feeling. It successfully depicts the various emotions of children: innocence, pure-heartedness, naïvety, generosity, and justice. We can immerse ourselves into the world of a story by being deeply connected with the characters.

Secondly, the visual is an essential aspect which contributes to captivating the audience. At first, you may find its visuals to be a bit offbeat but, in the end, you will be feeling a deep love towards every character, including their appearances. Every aspect of this film is carefully designed and well matched to the story.

I talked to the director, Claude Barras, and Elie Chapuis, one of the animators.

Hideki Nagaishi (HN): Could you please share with us about your journey in the animation industry? How did you start with stop-motion animation?

Claude Barras (CB): I started as an illustrator. Then, I met very determined people. First is Georges Schwizgebel, who has been making films by animated painting and it gave me the idea to go from illustration to moving images. Then I met Cedric Louis, with whom I co-directed 5 short films.  And then there were the brothers Frédéric Guillaume and Samuel Guillaume, who were doing stop-motion animation in Switzerland. I was hired by them to do the modeling of the characters of their feature film Max & Co.

Elie Chapuis (EC): That’s where I met Claude. I was an animator in Max & Co, and then we were together until My Life as a Courgette.

HN: What part of stop-motion animation attracted you the most to use that to officially tell those stories?

CB: I think that, compared to other animation techniques, stop-motion animation is something that is more science-fiction. It is a mix between animation and live-action film, because we really have a relationship to the real world. You have a direct grasp of reality through real objects like the puppets and the sets.

Stop-motion animating has 2 meanings, moving the real objects frame-by-frame, and giving them life. And you have a nearly magical relationship with them.

EC: That magical relationship is the reason why I’m a puppet animator.

CB: My role is a mediator between staff and puppets to have them meet and have magical relationships. We manufacture everything. There is the fabrication as the main step of the making, which is very important and tactile. Then there is the framing that you do with the camera, you choose your frame like you do in live-action and lighting. And there is all the animation processes, which you do per hands. It is a real process. If we want, we can develop animations as animators.

Puppets used for the dance scene

Animating Simon

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