A friend of Pixar animation chief John Lasseter has written to say Lasseter has no axe to grind against Beowulf, and that Beowulf director Robert Zemeckis is “on the record having said that Beowulf was not animation…anyone can be mislead by the mixed signals from that camp.”
He also claims that “a former Sony exec called to express shock that the academy said it was animation, as he’d worked there when the company developed it, he’s seen it, and can’t believe it is animation, which means frame-by-frame technology, which includes puppets, stop motion, etc.”
“Puppets” and “stop-motion” were animation or special effects tools that were first used in the 1920s by Merian C. Cooper and Lewis O’Brien, and later in the 1950s by Ray Harryhausen. “Frame by frame” harkens back to the days of hand-pointed animation cells created by the Disney guys for Bambi and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Due respect, but these are antiquated terms. The digitally animated realities of 2007 cinema exists in a different realm. It is no country for old men.
I’ve been told by two good sources that Lasseter has been against the idea of Beowulf being classified as animated, and this “friend” hasn’t disputed this. And there is no sensible explanation for Zemeckis saying it’s not animated. It’s looney of him to take this position. I’ve seen the film and it’s not live action…please. The fact that it began with actors emoting in front of green screens is only one component in a very sophisticated visual scheme.