- Timeline This film has been released in 1984
Nov 08, 2020
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Rupert and the Frog Song is a 1984 animated short film based on the comic strip character Rupert Bear, written and produced by Paul McCartney and directed by Geoff Dunbar. The making of Rupert and the Frog Song began in 1981 and ended in 1983. The film was released theatrically as an accompaniment to McCartney’s film Give My Regards to Broad Street. The song “We All Stand Together” from the film’s soundtrack reached No. 3 when released in the UK Singles Chart. It was released in 2004 as one of the segments of Paul McCartney: Music & Animation.
Rupert Bear decides to head off for a walk on the hills. With his Mother’s blessing, he sets off for a jolly trip, encountering his friends Edward Elephant and Bill Badger along the way, who are too busy to join him – Bill needs to look after his baby brother and Edward has to do some shopping. As Rupert reaches a hill, he props himself up against the trunk of an oak tree and enjoys the glory of the countryside. Suddenly, he finds himself enveloped by a rainbow cloud of butterflies previously masquerading as leaves on the oak tree, and all of them swarm away from the leafless tree towards a rocky outcrop; Rupert cannot resist following them. As he leaves, a large white barn owl and two black cats decide to follow him.
Upon the rocks, Rupert finds a large number of multicolored frogs. He walks into a cave behind a waterfall and sees three signs: “Frogs only beyond this point”, “Everything except frogs must be kept on a lead”, and “Guard frogs operating”. He sneaks into the palace, trying to avoid getting caught by the frog guards. There, he witnesses the Frog Song, an event that occurs only once in a few hundred years in which various frogs of all shapes and sizes come together and sing “We All Stand Together“. Around the end, the frog King and Queen rise out of the water before the crowd to finish off the song. After a thunderous applause from the frogs, the owl, who had followed Rupert to find out where the frogs were hiding, launches itself for an attack on the royals, but Rupert manages to warn the frogs in time and they all quickly retreat, leaving the owl and the cats empty-handed and the palace completely empty. After hearing his mother call him, Rupert excitedly rushes home to tell his family about what he saw.
Paul McCartney (voice) – Rupert, Bill, Boy Frog
June Whitfield (voice) – Rupert’s Mother
Windsor Davies (voice) – Rupert’s Father, Edward, Father Frog
McCartney had been planning his Rupert movie since at least the early 1970s, when his company, McCartney Productions Ltd., acquired the rights to the film the day after the Beatles’ break-up. At one point, the song “Little Lamb Dragonfly,” which was recorded in 1971 and released on the 1973 album Red Rose Speedway, was intended for the film.
The video was released simultaneously with the single “We All Stand Together” and became the biggest-selling video of 1985, as well as being nominated for the ‘Best Music Video – Short Form’ at the Grammy Awards in 1986. The video also included two other shorts with music by Linda McCartney: “Seaside Woman” (a song credited to Suzy and the Red Stripes) and, “The Oriental Nightfish“.
In September 2004, the film was re-released on DVD Tales of Wonder Music and Animation Classics (also called Paul McCartney – Music & Animation Collection), to mark its 20th Anniversary, along with two other shorts directed by Geoff Dunbar, Tropic Island Hum and Tuesday. This version contains an alternative opening, which begins in an old bedroom filled with Rupert merchandise. We see Paul McCartney opening a large chest and digging through old dusty books until he comes upon an old Rupert book. He takes it out of the chest, blows on it, and dust flies away from the book (sparkling dust in the 2004 DVD). McCartney opens the book to reveal his childhood house address, a possible reference to the VHS covers of this film. The page then turns to the title card. The print of this version is also matted, cropping the top and bottom of the image to an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen, which was how the film was exhibited theatrically. The opening for this edition was previously used at the start of a music video for the song “We All Stand Together”.
Awards and nominations
In 1984, the year of its release, it won a UK BAFTA (British Academy Award) for Best Animated Short Film.
From paulmccartney.com, October 1st, 2020:
To mark the centenary of DreamWorks Animation/Classic Media’s Rupert The Bear later this year, Paul’s iconic 1984 Rupert-inspired song We All Stand Together and animated film Rupert and the Frog Song will receive special releases. […]
[We All Stand Together] was the focal point of Rupert and The Frog Song – a short animated film that Paul began work on in 1981 with animator Geoff Dunbar. The film has now been fully restored in 4k as well as getting a new audio mix. Written and produced by Paul and directed by Geoff, Rupert and The Frog Song was eventually released in 1984. The film saw Paul voice the character of Rupert and featured the voices of the beloved British TV icons June Whitfield (as Rupert’s mother) and Windsor Davies (Father Frog). Released simultaneously with We All Stand Together the film went on to become the biggest selling video of 1985 in the UK earning Paul a Grammy nomination in the process as well as seeing him win a revered Ivor Novello Award for Best Film Soundtrack and picking up a BAFTA for Best Animated Short Film.
The film along with the amphibian anthem were inspired by Paul’s childhood love of Rupert and a specific drawing Paul remembered from the 1958 Rupert Bear Annual.
“I’ve always loved animation. It started with the Disney cartoons and went on from there. As a kid I would always get the Rupert Annual at Christmas. I remember getting the idea for a film project when looking through one of them. There was a standout image in colour and when I saw it I could imagine a concert of frogs with them all doing different parts, a choir and an orchestra, and I could almost hear the music.”
The project had been in the making for a long time. Paul’s original idea had been to make a feature length film and he set about work for this in the 70s recording songs and writing stories that to this day remain unreleased with one of the unreleased songs dating back to The Beatles Let It Be sessions in 1969.
“I had wanted to make a Rupert feature film for a while but didn’t realise what a difficult task it actually was. I remember telling John Lennon about it and he encouraged me to have a go which was great but you need more than that to make a film. There were so many different things to think about, things like securing the rights. It was all too much. Eventually I had the idea to make a short film with an animator I admired, Geoff Dunbar.”
Like Paul, Geoff Dunbar had grown up on Rupert and unlike other animators who were suggesting some kind of Rupert reboot, Geoff, sharing Paul’s vision, believed that Rupert shouldn’t change. Geoff took inspiration from the demo of We All Stand Together and just as Paul had heard what the song might be years before when looking at the annual, Geoff started to visualise the film based on Paul’s music and he and Paul would back and forth ideas on the project as it started to come to life. Rupert and The Frog Song was made in a pre-digital age, all handcrafted, and this year has undergone a painstaking and serious restoration process in which the film has been regraded and restored frame by frame.
Watching the new film Geoff says: “It’s delightful and absolutely thrilling. I’m totally blown away by it and the sound quality too. I’ve always maintained what a marvellous piece of work it was. It was seriously adored and a massive hit all over the world.”