The Paul McCartney Project

Ethel & Ernest

Animated film • For Various Artists • Directed by Roger Mainwood

Timeline This film has been released in 2016
Release date:
Oct 15, 2016

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About

From Wikipedia:

Ethel & Ernest is a British animated biographical film directed by Roger Mainwood. The film is based on the 1998 graphic memoir of the same name written by Raymond Briggs, and follows Briggs’ parents, Ethel and Ernest, through their period of marriage from the 1920s to their deaths in the 1970s. It was broadcast on television on BBC One on 28 December 2016.

Plot

The film details the marriage of Ethel and Ernest Briggs from the 1920s to the 1970s, as they live through extraordinary events occurring in that period.

Production

The film was originally to be produced by John Coates, notable for producing The Snowman. When Coates died in 2012, Camilla Deakin and Ruth Fielding (Lupus Films) were then hired to help complete the film. The voice cast for the film was revealed on 3 August 2015. The film was made of 67,680 hand-drawn individual frames.

Release

The film made its official debut in the 60th BFI London Film Festival, on 15 October 2016. The film made its theatrical premiere in the U.S. at the Nuart Landmark Theatre in Santa Monica, California, on 15 December 2017.

Critical response

On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an average rating of 97%, based on 30 reviews. The site’s critical consensus reads, “Gentle, poignant, and vividly animated, Ethel & Ernest is a warm character study with an evocative sense of time and place.” On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating, the film has a score of 72 out of 100, based on 10 critics, indicating “generally favorable reviews.” […]

Paul McCartney contributed an original song, “In The Blink Of An Eye“, used over the end credits of the film.

From the liner notes of the soundtrack album:

Raymond Briggs, Camilla Deakin, and myself met up with Paul McCartney in his Soho office on May 14th 2014. I had suggested to Raymond that he might write a letter to Paul to see if he was interested in composing a song for our Ethel and Ernest film. Raymond’s book ‘Fungus the Bogeyman’ had influenced Paul’s track Bogey Music on his 1980 album McCartney II. So that connection, and Paul’s well known love of animation, encouraged us to believe that he might be interested. We were thrilled when he said he was.

At the meeting he produced a CD of some music that he had been working on. On track was entitled Mum and Dad. This track eventually became In The Blink Of An Eye which we have used over the end credits.

Raymond and Paul found many connections as they chatted. They had both been grammar school boys, and their fathers were both auxiliary firemen in World War 2. We talked about Paul’s father being a band leader, and how he composed a piece of music that Paul later recorded. The track is called Walking In The Park With Eloise, and we suggested to him that it would be really nice to have it in the film.

We had a chat about the style of Ethel and Ernest. I said it would be hand drawn animation but there would be 3D elements in it for vehicles, plances, and the mangle that Ethel uses for washing. We showed him some of the artwork for the film. He stopped at a picture of the mangle in the scullery and recalled how he and his brother used to try and feed old 78rpm records through the rollers to see if they could get them through without breaking. He laughed and added, “we couldn’t!”.

Fast forward two years and as we neared completion of the film we made contact with Paul’s office again. By this time Carl Davis was on board and by coincidence rather than design this proved to be an excellent opportunity to revive a collaboration that had begun twenty five years previously. In 1991 the first performance of Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Oratorio was conducted by Carl Davis in Liverpool Cathedral. Carl and Paul had collaborated on the oratorio to celebrate the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s 150th anniversary. Now in 2016, Paul and Carl met up again to work on the string arrangement of the Mum and Dad theme. Paul was touring in 2016, playing to sold out stadiums in the US and Europe, but in July he had a small window in his busy schedule. He wrote and performed some lyrics, recording them at his Hog Hill Mill studio in Sussex. The string arrangement was conducted by Carl and performed by the Chamber Orchestra Of London. It was recorded at Angel studios under the music direction of Chris Egan. […]

The recordings took place in May 2016 at Angel Studios in north London. Carl conducted the Chamber Orchestra Of London in two sessions with Chris Egan as musical director. The first used a classical ensemble for the main theme, the mood setting passages, and the cinematic war time sequences. The second was a jazz ensemble who recreated the authentic sound of a 1920s jazz band.

Roger Mainwood, Director

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