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Melbourne’s behind-the-scenes look at 2009’s Mary and Max offered viewers a unique chance to truly witness the detail, dedication and work that really went into creating the world seen on the silver screen. Trees, characters, vehicles and entire ‘rooms’ were displayed to give us an insight as to how stop motion works at an industry level.

The room, although small, contained  over 50 plasticine characters and even a ‘skeleton’ (better known as a rig) for the characters. Trucks, bicycles, bubbles and entire sets were lifted directly from the movie and placed in one room at the convenience of the viewers. Watching the film alone doesn’t really give the viewer an impression of the detail sculpted on every piece of plasticine, this exhibition  lets its viewers get up close and personal with the props, so close you can see each hair strand places on the scalps.

Along with the large amount of props was running footage of the minds that created and brought  Mary and Max’s world alive. Sculptors, painters and prop makers briefly revealed tips and processes they each went through just to make a single character, it stretched for weeks . The dimly lit room created a comfortable yet exclusive atmosphere, the main source of light seemed to be several low light lights that were directed at the pieces which highlighted detail.

My only let down with this exhibition was the fact that there was so little displayed when so much was used  for the film. A room only a little bigger than your living room was all that was spared to display the props and characters. An animator of the film, Craig Ross, attended the exhibition but if was disappointed to see that he was the only one. Additional crew members attending daily would have given viewers a chance to talk to and understand what they each go through to create a feature length stop motion film.

Fans of Mary and Max would no doubt enjoy this once in a life time event, considering 90 percent of props and sets used in the film used were destroyed, seeing this exhibition for free (at ACMI) is no waste of time.  Adam Elliot (director) was able to salvage these masterwork’s and was willing to display them for a limited time and only in Victoria, touring plans are still undecided.


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