A Close Shave

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A Close Shave
A-close-shave.jpg
Original USA VHS artwork cover.
Directed by Nick Park
Produced by Peter Lord
David Sproxton
Written by Nick Park
Bob Baker
Starring Peter Sallis
Anne Reid
Music by Julian Nott
Cinematography Dave Alex Riddett
Edited by Helen Garrard
Production
company
Distributed by BBC (UK, TV)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment (US, VHS)
Release dates
  • 24 December 1995 (1995-12-24)
Running time
31 minutes[1]
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget £1.3 million[2]

A Close Shave is a 1995 stop motion animated short film directed by Nick Park at Aardman Animations in Bristol, featuring his characters Wallace and Gromit. It was his third half-hour short featuring the eccentric inventor Wallace and his quiet but intelligent dog Gromit, following 1989's A Grand Day Out, and 1993's The Wrong Trousers.

To celebrate the film's premiere on Christmas Eve 1995, BBC Two's Christmas presentation that year (broadcast from 17 to 22 December) featured Wallace and Gromit. The main ident featured the two (Wallace wears a red crown and Gromit wears a green crown) eating Christmas dinner, with a large blue 2 (the channel's logo) situated in the middle of the table, covered with flashing Christmas lights. Several Christmas themed stings also involving Wallace, Gromit, and the 2 were shown between programmes. The animation of these idents appeared slightly different from other Wallace and Gromit shorts.

Following in the footsteps of its predecessor The Wrong Trousers, A Close Shave won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 1996.[3]

Plot[edit]

At 2 o'clock in the morning, a small sheep escapes from a mysterious lorry (truck) and enters the house of Wallace and Gromit, who are currently running a window-cleaning business. The next morning, Wallace and Gromit initially do not notice the sheep chewing at their food and furniture, as well as their new Porridge Gun, before they leave for work. While they clean the windows of a wool shop, Wallace meets and falls in love with Wendolene Ramsbottom, the shopkeeper. She is the daughter of a late inventor and owns a sinister dog named Preston, who runs a sheep-rustling scheme to supply the shop. After returning from work, they finally discover the little lost sheep, who has wrecked all of their furniture and decorations.

Wallace puts the sheep into one of his inventions: the Knit-o-Matic, a machine for washing and shearing sheep and knitting the wool into jumpers. Gromit programs the machine to give a wash, but a fault causes the sheep to be sucked into the rest of the machine and sheared. When the sheep emerges, Wallace names him "Shaun" (a pun on the word "shorn") and dresses him in the jumper it knitted. Preston spies on the scene while hiding in a flood drain and after they leave, he sneaks in and steals the design blueprints for the Knit-o-Matic.

The next day, Wallace pays Wendolene another visit while Gromit was washing a clock. Gromit attempts to investigate and find out what Preston is doing, but ends up getting captured by Preston and framed for the sheep rustling. Gromit is arrested and sentenced to life in prison while Wallace finds his house overrun with sheep. Wendolene tearfully visits to inform him not to visit her anymore out of her concern for Gromit.

Wallace, Shaun and the other sheep rescue Gromit from prison and they hide out in the fields. Wendolene and Preston arrive with the truck and round up the sheep. Wendolene turns against Preston and demands that he should put an end to the rustling, revealing that Preston intends to use the sheep to make “dog meat”. Preston locks Wendolene in the lorry (truck) with the captured sheep and drives away.

Wallace and Gromit, who had been watching the betrayal disguised as a scarecrow, give chase on their motorcycle. The sidecar Gromit rides in separates, rushes down another road and off the edge of a cliff. Gromit saves himself by activating the sidecar's ability to turn into an aeroplane, and flies after Wallace's motorbike and the truck. Their attempts to catch Preston fail, and Preston hits the brakes, trapping Wallace and all the sheep in his lorry (truck). The captives are transported to Preston's factory, where Preston has used the stolen blueprints to build a giant replica of the Knit-o-Matic machine, much to Wallace's objections. The captives are loaded into the wash basin, with Shaun escaping, and Preston pulls out the nozzle to suck them into the shearing machine.

As they fight against the suction, Shaun activates the neon advertisements, revealing the factory's location to Gromit, who then flies in and attacks Preston with the porridge gun. Shaun then pulls the nozzle away to suck Preston into the Knit-o-Matic, which Gromit programs to give a "Close Shave". Wendolene reveals that Preston is a malfunctioning "cyber dog" built by her father, that has "turned out evil". Preston breaks out of the machine with his fake fur ripped off, revealing his robotic form. Unable to see after being dressed in a jumper knitted out of his fake fur, Preston accidentally loads himself and Gromit onto the conveyor belt of his "Mutton-o-Matic" mincing machine. Wallace attempts to turn the machine off but inadvertently loads the rest of the sheep on as well (except Shaun). As they all fight against the conveyor belt, Shaun swings over them on an anvil and pushes Preston into the machine, where he is destroyed and his parts are turned into "dog food".

At the end of the film, Gromit is exonerated from all charges of the thefts, Wallace has rebuilt Preston back to the harmless pet he used to be with a remote control, and Wendolene comes by to thank him. However, when Wallace invites her in to have cheese, he discovers that she is allergic to cheese, much to his dismay ("Not even Wensleydale?"). The film ends with Wallace finding Shaun eating his cheese.

Cast[edit]

Sequels[edit]

After A Close Shave, Wallace and Gromit's next major outing was in a set of 10 212-minute shorts called Cracking Contraptions, each showing one of Wallace's inventions, usually with disastrous results. These appeared on the Internet and were also released as a limited edition Region 2 DVD, later on the Curse of the Were-Rabbit DVD. The sequel to A Close Shave is the feature film Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. The next major short was A Matter of Loaf and Death, first broadcast in Britain on Christmas Day 2008.

Spin-offs[edit]

Shaun, the youngest of the flock of sheep in this feature, proved to be a very popular character and in 2007 was given his TV series on the BBC, entitled Shaun the Sheep, which has been broadcast worldwide. The first two series (80 episodes, each approximately 7 minutes long) are available on DVD. Each episode contains slapstick and situational humour with Shaun as the leader of the flock dealing with everyday farm issues while exhibiting a high level of intelligence and human-like behaviour to a level much like Gromit.

In 2009, Shaun the Sheep itself spun off another series, aimed for toddlers, entitled Timmy Time. Timmy was a baby sheep in Shaun's flock, and the series was an educational one about his time at playgroup.

In 2015, Shaun the Sheep received his own feature film.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "A Close Shave". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved 27 November 2014. 
  2. ^ "Production History - A Close Shave". Telepathy. Retrieved 24 September 2012. 
  3. ^ "The 68th Academy Awards (1996) Nominees and Winners". The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 25 March 1996. Retrieved 24 September 2012. 

External links[edit]