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16 Aug 2010

Summer Movie Blog-a-Thon: It's The Great Escape, but with Chickens!

Chicken Run is a pokey little English film made by the creators of Wallace and Gromit. As an 8-year-old, I loved this film, and it isn’t an understatement to say that this film made my summer. Admittedly, some of the in-jokes flew straight over my head (such as the constant references to The Great Escape and the World Wars), but I didn’t care. I just sat quietly, munching popcorn and staring up at the screen with my naive little eyes as a group of chickens tried to escape Tweedy’s Farm before they are made into pies, with the help of Rocky the Rooster, my hero for the following year.
To an 8-year-old, this movie is as original as it gets, and to be honest, few films have matched this level of originality since. Made with the whole family in mind, watching it again, it still keeps the jokes coming thick and fast, almost all of them hitting the mark. 5 minutes in, and the movie already had me laughing out aloud.  On the other hand, the film keeps a great balance of humour and tastefully-done darker scenes. For example, “murder” of chickens is a constant undertone, with one particular scene showing Mrs. Tweedy holding a chicken (called Edwina) by the neck, raising a butcher’s knife, but the camera then cuts away to the main group of chickens, only to hear a thud seconds later. I can imagine this being frightening as a child, but the jokes keep on coming the scene after, relieving some of the tension. The charm of this film was its mix of problems personified on chickens, but facing them so tastefully, that the whole family can enjoy it. It appealed to me back then, and it still does.
But this isn’t to say that my perceptions of the film have changed. In fact, it is the complete opposite. As a child, I loved the humour, the storyline and varied array of characters, which included a knitting-loving but naive hen, a war veteran and the courageous leader (yep, every stereotype is considered and pulled off flawlessly). As an adult, the in-jokes and darker humour takes precedence, and makes the film even more accessible and enjoyable as it was before.
This film has probably had the most effect on me. 10 years on, and I can still quote some of the lines, one of which has stuck with me during hard times: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” with other making me laugh every time I hear them, such as “My whole life flashed before my eyes. It was really boring!”  As I have said, this film made my summer, but it is always the film I have related to summer ever since, and after watching it again 10 years on, it is still as good, if not better, then the first time i saw it way back in July 2000.

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