Cannes 2009: Carrey and co. Present A Christmas Carol

The 3D motion capture piece from Robert Zemeckis makes snow on the Croisette.

by | May 19, 2009 | Comments

Big, fat flakes of white snow suddenly began tumbling down in the roasting afternoon heat of the Cannes Film Festival yesterday. It wasn’t global warming. It was just Cannes. Because here, you can do that. The festival is its own Field Of Dreams: if you pay for it, it will come. You want Christmas in May? You got it. You want Jim Carrey throwing snowballs after being brought in on a horse-drawn carriage? You got that too.

Striding up a frosty red carpet between a set of pumping snow-machines, Carrey, Jenny McCarthy, Colin Firth and Robin Wright Penn arrived in style for this scene of meteorological madness to introduce the world’s first look at Robert Zemeckis‘ upcoming 3D ‘toon A Christmas Carol.

With all the hype and hush around James Cameron‘s upcoming stereoscopic sci-fi epic Avatar, it’s easy to forget that Zemeckis is the true godfather of the 3D revolution. After the groundbreaking The Polar Express and Beowulf, his adaptation of the Dickens’ classic looks set to raise the bar even further.

Cannes 200 - Jeff Vespa/
Carrey and McCarthy turn Cannes into a snowfield.

“This is the first time we’ve shown this footage to anyone,” explained Zemeckis, as a room of critics and journalists expectantly donned 3D glasses below a giant screen inside the Carlton Hotel. “Disney has given us the resources to take the performance-capture art form to the next level. Jim used every muscle in his body to drives the look of these character and we’re going to re-envision this classic novel in a way that I like to think Mr. Dickens envisioned it in his own mind.”

He wasn’t kidding. The two short scenes of footage that unspooled were, frankly, stunning. Motion-captured with an incredible level of depth and detail, Carrey transforms not only into the wizened, bitter Scrooge but each one of the three ghosts that haunts him. What really stunned were the astonishing facial nuances of the characters — you can see Scrooge’s lower lip curl with subtle malice or a malicious twitch of his eye as he talks to Colin Firth’s Fred, also rendered with startling realism. Richer, warmer and more convincing than the milky-blind waxworks that have walked around in previous mo-capped ‘toons, A Christmas Carol looks to have broken new ground in breathing human life into animated characters.

“It’s not just voiceover work, these are complete performance by all of the actors,” explained Carrey. “This technology takes it to another place.” Firth even called it a purer form of acting. “Once you put on the manhood-cancelling spandex suit and the thing that looks like a bicycle helmet with cameras on it all pointing at your face, you’re never off camera,” he explained. Sat next to him, Carrey nodded seriously. “When you start out talking out of your butt, it’s a long road to get to this place.”

Cannes 200 - Jeff Vespa/
Snow falls on the Croisette on one of the hottest days of the fest.

From Who Framed Roger Rabbit? to Forrest Gump, Zemeckis has always been a master at shackling new technology to great storytelling. The second thrilling sequence showed how he’s used digital 3D to unlock a gorgeously immersive new depth to the screen. In fact, it’s not a screen anymore. It’s a window. Warping through a wooden door into Scrooges’ room, the infamous Marley’s Ghost hurls giant chain-wrapped books crashing through the 3D space and on to the floor around a terrified Scrooge. Then his jaw falls off.

Frightening, funny and spectacular, it looks like just a taste of Zemeckis’ visual-effects showstopper: an eye-roasting final teaser then showed Scrooge being rocketed into the night sky by the blazing Ghost Of The Christmas Past before plummeting back down through the clouds toward the cobblestones of 19th-century London. A tiny snowflake drifts through the air in front of the audience and rests on Scrooge’s looming, beaky nose. Filling the screen in close up, he squints at it distastefully, then irritably blows it off. “Baa… humbug.”

Check out our gallery from the Cannes photocall right here!

Tag Cloud

Winners cops spy thriller Grammys Black Mirror space independent nature CNN Sundance Now crime Podcast TNT TCA Fantasy crime thriller Character Guide Comic Book Amazon Studios Biopics Shudder Star Wars Adult Swim OneApp TCA 2017 Shondaland DC streaming service Apple TV Plus Premiere Dates Food Network Hulu politics finale YouTube El Rey DirecTV screen actors guild spider-man Summer what to watch Acorn TV spinoff SundanceTV adaptation Starz Lucasfilm E! Spring TV ITV doctor who Film comics Cannes composers DC Comics joker television Nominations sequel Elton John movie Calendar Extras green book casting Polls and Games WGN Film Festival Photos versus Pirates documentary Academy Awards President Mary Poppins Returns docudrama Bravo 45 Writers Guild of America Animation thriller universal monsters FX on Hulu Logo Box Office zombies south america breaking bad TIFF Funimation TV FXX Song of Ice and Fire Year in Review Lifetime Disney Channel AMC 20th Century Fox halloween screenings See It Skip It Martial Arts hispanic MTV Pixar transformers Holidays Ovation Travel Channel cancelled golden globes BBC Fall TV Pop TV technology Marvel canceled Avengers FX dceu strong female leads latino Disney+ Disney Plus Paramount Video Games discovery Rock psycho Musical Dark Horse Comics BBC America Netflix Mudbound teaser Masterpiece Captain marvel TCA Winter 2020 Christmas sports TruTV E3 DC Universe children's TV Kids & Family 2017 Red Carpet The Witch cinemax HBO true crime binge Apple Set visit Toys Countdown DGA Drama 2015 Disney streaming service Sundance TV Cartoon Network Marvel Studios 21st Century Fox Chilling Adventures of Sabrina zombie Esquire SXSW CMT Freeform Spectrum Originals Infographic Peacock National Geographic Tarantino Creative Arts Emmys Discovery Channel History SDCC serial killer romance LGBT vampires anime stand-up comedy richard e. Grant Family adventure Brie Larson disaster cars boxoffice 2020 Mindy Kaling robots travel movies Columbia Pictures Rom-Com Rocketman Trailer Warner Bros. cancelled television renewed TV shows witnail Mary Tyler Moore comiccon TBS Amazon Prime Video A&E historical drama 2019 Musicals Trophy Talk Turner Black History Month LGBTQ HBO Max YouTube Red Tomatazos miniseries diversity reboot talk show Valentine's Day cancelled TV series Lifetime Christmas movies series Tumblr rotten movies we love romantic comedy Crackle singing competition Britbox Action Marvel Television crime drama Disney award winner biography Western YouTube Premium natural history MCU Turner Classic Movies psychological thriller Reality Vudu cartoon sitcom Marathons Country First Look foreign blockbuster ESPN Superheroe Music Showtime Comics on TV Ghostbusters OWN video science fiction TV renewals FOX Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Emmys sag awards Disney Plus period drama zero dark thirty TLC Baby Yoda New York Comic Con Classic Film reviews cooking mutant Thanksgiving directors RT History ratings PBS TCM Teen Star Trek CBS All Access 2016 San Diego Comic-Con justice league ABC IFC book Hallmark Christmas movies dramedy Sony Pictures Universal anthology blaxploitation Crunchyroll dragons WarnerMedia cults werewolf IFC Films Netflix Christmas movies USA Network cancelled TV shows YA BET Emmy Nominations Tubi TV Land police drama Ellie Kemper animated Lionsgate Syfy comic war The Arrangement medical drama Pop Schedule cats Sci-Fi Hallmark Super Bowl Amazon ABC Family Certified Fresh Nat Geo Anna Paquin Election free movies game show spain First Reviews 24 frames Television Academy Oscars Awards festivals Sundance Best and Worst batman Pet Sematary Watching Series Walt Disney Pictures Stephen King quibi NYCC American Society of Cinematographers tv talk hist Horror Superheroes slashers ghosts Arrowverse spanish language Awards Tour indie RT21 facebook GoT Endgame Amazon Prime Opinion Interview 2018 The Walking Dead Pride Month canceled TV shows dogs GIFs based on movie scary movies Holiday 71st Emmy Awards Cosplay toy story theme song mockumentary dc Winter TV Reality Competition harry potter revenge kids Chernobyl APB VH1 X-Men political drama christmas movies crossover Heroines A24 name the review social media VICE jamie lee curtis The CW Nickelodeon game of thrones Rocky The Purge elevated horror NBC franchise Women's History Month Mary poppins Fox News Trivia CW Seed Apple TV+ Sneak Peek Binge Guide CBS supernatural aliens Comedy Spike Paramount Network USA streaming Epix MSNBC Quiz GLAAD Comedy Central Mystery unscripted 007 PaleyFest