French animator Sylvain Chomet, the brain behind the quirky, nearly dialogue-free The Triplets of Belleville, is up to his old tricks with The Illusionist, which was just nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Animated Film. The film follows an aging music hall magician as he deals with the changing cultural scene of the late 1950s. Chomet sat down to talk with Metro about Tati, the problems with computer animation and falling in love with Edinburgh.
You’re still committed to hand-drawn animation rather than Pixar’s computer-generated style. Why is that?
It’s very simple. If you take any kind of very old thing — take The Jungle Book, for example. That still stands. You can show that to children and it’s very beautiful. But take the first Toy Story. It’s already very difficult to watch because the technology has changed so much. You look at that and it looks badly done. When you see the humans in the first Toy Story, it’s disastrous. Now you have children, 12 years old, you give them a computer and they do better things than that.
Most of The Illusionist takes place in Edinburgh, which wasn’t in the original script. Why the change?
I first went to Edinburgh when there was a premiere of my film at the festival there, and I took the train from Paris because I don’t fly. I thought it was the most beautiful city I’d ever seen. And I really liked the people as well.
You also set up production for the film in Edinburgh. How was that experience?
To be honest, we didn’t have any kind of help from Scotland. It was a real nightmare. … It’s nothing to do with the people of Scotland. I just think their civil servants are not effective at all.