Valiant (2005 film)
US theatrical poster
|Directed by||Gary Chapman|
|Produced by||John H. Williams
Barnaby Thompson (executive producer)
|Written by||Jordan Katz|
|Distributed by||Entertainment Film Distributors (UK)
Walt Disney Pictures (US)
|Running time||76 minutes|
Valiant is a 2005 British computer-animated film produced by Vanguard Animation and Odyssey Entertainment, and released by Entertainment Film Distributors in the United Kingdom on March 25, 2005 and by Walt Disney Pictures in the United States on August 19, 2005. Set in May of the year 1944, it tells the story of a group of war pigeons during World War II. Reviews of Valiant were mixed and largely poor. The film is based on a story by Jordan Katz, George Webster, and George Melrod, and inspired by true stories of hundreds of pigeons that helped the soldiers in the war. At the end of the film, it says that of the 54 Dickin Medals awarded to animals, 32 of them went to pigeons.
In May 1944, 5 years since the declaration of World War II, three Royal Homing Pigeon Service war pigeons are flying across the English Channel with the White Cliffs of Dover in sight, carrying vital messages to Great Britain. Despite the poor weather conditions the pigeons have nearly reached their destination. They are, however, suddenly ambushed and attacked by a German enemy falcon called General Von Talon; two of the pigeons are instantly killed, yet the third, Mercury is taken as a prisoner of war.
Elsewhere a small wood pigeon named Valiant is watching an Allied forces propaganda film in his local bar (an overturned rowing boat) in West Nestington. Wing Commander Gutsy, a war hero flies into the bar, informing everyone that signups are scheduled the next day in Trafalgar Square, London. In General Von Talon's lair, Mercury resists interrogation by his captors. Valiant flies off to London, bidding his mother and Felix, the local barman, goodbye. In London, Valiant meets a filthy pigeon named Bugsy, who is wanted by two thugs. In order to escape the wrath of the thugs, he signs up with Valiant.
The recruits, Valiant, Bugsy, Lofty, an intellectual red pigeon, and Toughwood and Tailfeather, two strong but dim-witted twin brothers, form Royal Homing Pigeon Service Squad F, and are sent to a recruit training facility. Under the command of Sergeant Monty, who declares that he will toughen them up for the RHPS, the training begins. Meanwhile, Von Talon and his henchmen, Cufflingk and Underlingk, try numerous attempts to discover the message's departure location. However Mercury refuses to tell, despite the tortures inflicted upon him, such as irritating him with yodelling music and injecting him with truth serum, before Mercury accidentally reveals the location: Saint-Pierre.
Throughout the training, Valiant develops a crush on Victoria, the camp's nursing dove. Eventually, Gutsy arrives and tells the Sergeant that the recruits need to leave the next morning, despite their training being vastly incomplete. Bugsy, however, decides not to go on the "highly dangerous" mission and flees the camp that night. The next morning, Valiant and the others prepare to leave and start to board the plane headed for France, but not before Bugsy shows up at the last second. The journey becomes extremely perilous, as the plane is caught in the midst of dogfight. Their plane sustains heavy damage and the pigeons soon have to bail out, in boxes equipped with parachutes. The pigeons are dropped from the plane; however a technical malfunction causes Gutsy's box to fail to deploy. The plane goes down in an inferno of flames, presumably killing Gutsy in the resulting explosion.
In France, the pigeons meet Charles de Girl and Rollo, two mice from the French Resistance, Mouse Division, the latter being an expert saboteur who lead them to Saint-Pierre, where they receive the message they have been ordered to deliver. They soon come under attack by Von Talon's henchmen, resulting in Bugsy and the message being captured. Von Talon takes the message from Bugsy and decides to cage him up and eat him later. Valiant and the troops follow Bugsy to the falcon's bunker, where they discover that Gutsy has survived the plane crash. Valiant takes advantage of his small size and sneaks into the bunker through the gun barrel, retrieves the message, and frees Bugsy and Mercury. Unfortunately, the falcons are alert and give chase. As Gutsy and the others fend off Von Talon's henchmen, Valiant flies to London to deliver the message, followed closely by Von Talon.
After a climactic chase by the falcon, Valiant hides in the cottage where he lives, where he is attacked by Von Talon again. With the help of his mother and Felix, Valiant finally defeats the villain by getting a giant hook caught on his medals, leaving him to be beaten senseless by the water wheel. Valiant delivers the message, and upon receiving it, a change of plans is made: They land in Normandy. After receiving the Dickin Medal, Squad F returns to the local bar in West Nestington, where Valiant reunites and shares a kiss with Victoria.
- Ewan McGregor as Valiant, the Main Protagonist of the Film
- Ricky Gervais as Bugsy, Valiant's friend in the Royal Homing Pigeon Service
- Pip Torrens as Lofty Thaddeus Worthington, Valiant's friend in the Royal Homing Pigeon Service
- Dan Roberts as Tailfeather, Toughwood's brother and Valiant's friend in the Royal Homing Pigeon Service
- Brian Lonsdale as Toughwood, Tailfeather's brother and Valiant's friend in the Royal Homing Pigeon Service
- John Cleese as Mercury, A pigeon who was captured by the Falcons
- Olivia Williams as Victoria, A nursing dove and Valiant's love interest
- John Hurt as Felix, a Seagull with a pegleg and the local barman
- Annette Badland as Elsa, Valiant's Mother
- Jim Broadbent as Sergeant Monty, The Pigeon Drill Sergeant
- Hugh Laurie as Wing Commander Gutsy, The Commander of the Royal Homing Pigeon Service
- Tim Curry as General Von Talon, A German falcon and the main antagonist of the film
- Rik Mayall as Cufflingk, One of Von Talon's Henchmen
- Michael Schlingmann as Underlingk, One of Von Talon's Henchmen
- Sharon Horgan as Charles De Girl, a French Mouse in charge of the Mouse Division
- Buckley Collum as Rollo, A hyperactive mouse who gets crazy anytime someone says the word, "sabotage"
- Sean Samuels as Jacques, A French mouse of the Resistance
Valiant sets the Second World War as its backdrop, and thus the film has various factual references to World War II. McGregor himself called it "a good old-fashioned war movie." The film's use of WWII imagery is apparent throughout; for instance, the villainous characters in the film hold obvious links to the Nazis, although Nazism is never specifically mentioned, nor are Nazi symbols ever overtly visually depicted - edited symbols are however discreetly inserted. For example, General Von Talon wears a large Reichsadler badge that depicts the German eagle, taken from the coat of arms of Germany. Yet this version, unlike the Hoheitszeichen (Nazi Germany's national insignia), has the eagle grasping two bones, whereas the Hoheitszeichen depicts the eagle clutching a swastika. Furthermore, the film's primary antagonist, Von Talon, holds specific links to Adolf Hitler. For example, Von Talon states whilst holding Mercury as a prisoner of war that he would not eat Mercury, as he is a vegetarian, a direct reference to Adolf Hitler's vegetarianism.
179 modellers, animators, shaders, texturers began work on Valiant at Ealing Studios, west London. Valiant was the second computer-animated film to be made in the United Kingdom, after The Magic Roundabout. John H. Williams of Vanguard Animation stated "we knew a lot of European animators who had worked at Pixar, Disney and DreamWorks, and were interested in going back to Europe. We thought it would be important to be the first company to produce a CGI feature fully made in Europe with a major studio attached." Williams stated this before he knew about The Magic Roundabout. He also explained the attraction to making the film in Britain, saying "It would have been $3 million cheaper to make in LA but we had $10-12 million in tax and co-production money that we were able to attract because we made it here." Additionally, the bonus of locating to Britain was that the UK Film Council offered Valiant a record-breaking £2.6 million grant. Valiant's budget of $35,000,000 is considered low in comparison to other CGI productions, with films which Williams had previously worked on, such as Shrek 2 having a budget of $150,000,000.
The film, on a tight budget and with a relatively small group of animators, was created in 106 weeks, in what The Times described as "a piece of guerrilla film-making" in comparison to the other CGI animated films created by major studios. At least 5 computer animators worked together for every scene of the 76 minute film, working on effects such as colour, movement and shading. As a result of the low number of animators some critics called the film's animation "amateurish-looking". However, other reviewers stated that the film was "nicely animated".
Tom Jacomb, line producer for Vanguard Animation stated that the biggest difficulties whilst making the film was the detail required for the birds' feathers. He stated that "most — no, all — our problems were feathers", and described them as a "misery in computer animation". Director Gary Chapman insisted that each bird must look distinctive, and as a result, the pigeons came in various colours, including beige, blue, yellow, red and grey. He also requested that each bird be dressed in clothing, and clothing accessories appear throughout the film on characters, usually hats, belts, and military medals and, in the case of the villainous Von Talon, a black leather cape. However, before Valiant, Bugsy, Lofty Thaddeus Worthington, Tailfeather, Toughwood complete their military training, they appear entirely clothes-free, equipped with no military regalia.
Valiant received a 30% "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 109 reviews with an average rating of 5/10. The film did business of $19,478,106 in the U.S. and $42,268,782 internationally. This gives it a worldwide total of $61,746,888, which is considered successful, but low by CGI film standards. The film held the record for lowest box office of a CGI animated film, until its record was later beaten in 2006 by Doogal, the American re-dubbed version of The Magic Roundabout.
The musical score was composed by George Fenton and mostly performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The orchestral music is in keeping with the military theme of the film, especially in the case of tracks such as "March of the R.H.P.S.", which was performed by The Central Band of the Royal Air Force. The tracks were recorded at AIR Recording Studios and at Angel Recording Studios in London and at Right Track Studios, New York. The only track not composed by Fenton, and the only track featured on the soundtrack with vocals, is "Shoo Shoo Baby", sang by R&B girl group Mis-Teeq. "Shoo Shoo Baby" was originally sung by the Andrews Sisters, a popular American wartime group. Although "Shoo Shoo Baby" was the only track on the album containing lyrics, it was not the only lyrical track used in the film; "Non, je ne regrette rien" by Édith Piaf is played in one scene in the film, despite it being recorded in 1960, 16 years after 1944, when the film was set.
- "Valiant (2005)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2009-03-10.
- Gary Chapman (2005)  (Making of Featurette). Valiant (Liner notes). London, United Kingdom: Vanguard Animation. EDV9307.
- Michael O'Sullivan (2005-08-19). "'Valiant' Flies Over Wee Heads". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-01-20.
- "Where pigeons dare". The Times. 2005-03-20. Retrieved 2010-01-10.
- Candida Crewe (2005-03-22). "Plucky British pigeon takes on Hollywood". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2010-01-10.
- "Shrek 2". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010-01-17.
- "Where pigeons dare: Part 2". The Times. 2005-03-20. Retrieved 2010-01-10.
- Carina Chocano (2005-08-19). "'Valiant' – Movie Review". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-01-10.[dead link]
- Linda McGee. "Valiant (G)". RTÉ. Retrieved 2010-01-10.
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- "Animation - Computer". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010-01-17.
- "Valiant Soundtrack CD". CD Universe. Retrieved 2010-01-17.
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|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Valiant (2005 film)|
- Official website
- Valiant at the Internet Movie Database
- Valiant at Rotten Tomatoes
- Valiant at Box Office Mojo
- Article on pigeons that inspired the film
- UltimateDisney.com DVD Review with Pictures