Having seen Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are, as a fan of the original picture book by Maurice Sendak I have to say I was greatly disappointed. The spirit of the original story seemed to have disappeared and the design of the Wild Things’ island did not remind me in any way of the wonderful illustrations in Sendak’s book.
However, last night while surfing Youtube I found this early Disney CG animation test for their version of Where the Wild Things Are from 1983. Max is animated traditionally, and is seen running through the 3d house after his dog. According to the Neatorama website, this method was considered too expensive and John Lasseter was fired from Disney shortly after making this test.
John Lasseter now oversees all of Pixar’s films, and after Disney purchased Pixar in 2006 he also became chief creative officer at Disney Animation Studios. It took until 1991 when Beauty and the Beast was released for the same type of complex 3d environment to be used in a traditionally animated film, although The Black Cauldron released in 1985 was actually the first animated feature by Disney to use computer-generated imagery. The Black Cauldron was then followed in 1986 by The Great Mouse Dectective which features a chase scene through the cog wheels of Big Ben.
I wish that 3d computer-generated imagery had come along just a little sooner, so that I might have enjoyed a version of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are which may have been truer to the spirit of the original story.