Peter Lord, co-founder of Aardman Studios, and one of the people responsible for bringing about the golden age of
animation in which we live, is a man with a not unsurprisingly whimsical way of expressing himself. When I spoke with him on April 10, 2012, there was no denying the whimsy, nor the passion he has not just for animation, but for the meticulous and time-consuming efforts necessary to produce the detailed stop-motion variety with which he made his mark. One thing I was most curious about was the use of CGI mixed with stop-motion in PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS, as well as whether or not his previous film, ARTHUR CHRISTMAS, an entirely CGI effort, was a commentary of sorts on the effect CGI has had on old-fashioned hand-craftsmanship. His answers were suitably erudite and pithy for a man with a perfect sympathy for both subtle and slapstick humor. I was also able to get his reaction to the fire that destroyed much of Aardman’s stored collections, which had the charm of the unexpected to it.
THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS is an animated consideration of pirate lore set in 1837 that includes the importance of ham, the misidentification of birds, and the cutthroat nature of the 19th-century scientific community. At stake is the Pirate of the Year award coveted by Pirate Captain, who has an uncertain grasp of statistical probability that leads to an uwarranted yet unbridled sense of hope that after 20 years of losing the title, he will finally win it. An unexpected encounter with a still-obscure Charles Darwin, and Queen Victoria’s implacable hatred of all things pirate conspire to take Pirate Captain where few, if any, pirates have gone before, and to discover a chimpanzee’s love of flash cards, and a side of royalty heretofore unsuspected. The films stars the voices of Hugh Grant, David Tennant, Martin Freeman, Salma Hayak, Jeremy Piven, Brendan Gleeson, Brian Blessed, Lenny Henry, and Imelda Staunton as Queen Victoria as well as Lord himself credited with the pivotal roles of “Additional voices“. Lord co-directed with Jeff Newitt from a script by Gideon Dafoe based on Dafoe‘s book of a very similar name. Lord and David Sproxton co-founded Aardman Studio, which went from a backyard operation to the Oscars and Lord’s previous work includes CHICKEN RUN, a film that was one of the few of its year to feature a strong female character, albeit an avian one, and THE CURSE OF THE WERERABBIT, where the rabbits were strong and so was the cheese. He is the author, with Brian Sibley, of CRACKING ANIMATION, THE AADMAN BOOK OF 3D ANIMATION.