***This article originally appeared in the March ’22 issue of Animation Magazine (No. 318)***
Several years in the making, the new animated feature Diplodocus from Poland’s Human Ark studio is ready for its Cartoon Movie sneak peek this year. The family comedy is inspired by classic 1980s comic books by Polish author Tadeusz Baranowski, which have sold over 2.5 million copies through the years. It tells the epic adventure of a small dinosaur, who has to find his missing parents, while also discovering that he actually lives inside a comic-book world.
Produced by Maks Sikora, the project is the second animated feature by Wojtek Wawszczyk (George the Hedgehog) who also wrote the script in collaboration with Mark Palmer (The Penguins of Madagascar, Monsters vs. Aliens and Kim Possible).
“When I was nine years old, I lived in a world cut off from color and the joy of life,” says the film’s director Wawszczyk. “Then, amidst the ubiquitous grayness, I came across this comic book, which was so different from what surrounded us: irrepressible in color, joyful, full of absurd humor, standing in opposition to the hard and depressing logic, strutting in the frames, inspiring everyone to dream and look ahead. That comic book was Baranowski’s Diplodocus Dragon’s Journey, and although it belonged to the ’80s era, it hasn’t lost its freshness. It was very important to me and many artists of my generation. It encouraged me to draw, think outside the box and to tell my own stories.”
The director mentions that when he was a kid, he was surrounded by devastating deprivation. But he adds, “Today, we live in a time of debilitating excess of soulless copies. Children have instant access to thousands of average movie productions based on the same formula. I believe that Diplodocus is a counterproposal to such hastily-made, clichéd ‘clones’; It is one of the most ambitious ventures in the history of animation in the post-Communist Bloc countries.”
Wawszczyk says he pays homage to many of the familiar benchmarks of ‘80s era film and pop culture in his movie. “The music combines a symphonic orchestra with synthesizers. We devote a lot of attention to camera work, with an excellent cinematographer, Jacek Podgórski, working with us. We showcase long takes and classic, nicely framed compositions.”
The film’s storyline exists on two levels — the world of the author and the universe of the comic book. “It’s a bit reminiscent of the classic movie The NeverEnding Story or the famous music video by A-ha, ‘Take on Me,’” he notes. “I care about mixing techniques and I do it consciously. The author’s world is actor-driven, and the comic-book world combines different animation techniques: gorgeous CG animation with spectacularly painted backgrounds. The visual designs of the characters directly refer to the cult comic books by Tadeusz Baranowski. All this creates an original hybrid of techniques, qualities and tastes. We are hoping to provide audiences with a movie that is missing from movie screens around the world.”
He concludes, “Diplodocus is a rich and eclectic film: It’s a manifestation of the power of imagination, and an homage to the ability to play with form. Moreover, it’s made with passion and tenderness, despite countless difficulties and sometimes against common sense.”
For more information, visit diplo.film