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/Wireimage.com
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/Wireimage.com
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

AMC X-Men cinemax singing competition cooking Rock SDCC political drama Opinion Schedule Watching Series Adult Swim Esquire TCA 2017 Ghostbusters Marathons zombie President Certified Fresh Writers Guild of America crime thriller APB Teen dramedy Disney GoT 2016 PBS aliens Star Wars NBC DC Comics PaleyFest Food Network Hulu The Arrangement supernatural TLC Nominations Star Trek Horror Tomatazos HBO cops El Rey TCM Photos Calendar historical drama Logo Fall TV war CBS All Access biography 007 Action Comic Book Reality Competition Video Games Sci-Fi SundanceTV technology Pirates Winter TV vampires Holidays IFC CBS CNN boxoffice Election Musical BBC America Fantasy Martial Arts FX BET GLAAD Winners Comedy FOX CMT Rom-Com Showtime diversity Musicals TNT The CW TBS Comedy Central Mystery Bravo Pop Cosplay ITV Freeform harry potter Music E3 Set visit discovery DirecTV based on movie 2017 ABC Family Marvel VH1 TCA Country Starz Drama Universal Syfy 24 frames History RT History TV Land Best and Worst Awards Trivia psycho travel Extras Super Bowl Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Disney Channel ABC USA adventure Rocky thriller WGN Crackle BBC MTV Interview Ellie Kemper crime drama Oscars TV Biopics Infographic FXX Year in Review Trailer VICE Lifetime Nickelodeon Amazon crime serial killer LGBTQ Toys period drama Sneak Peek Summer Tumblr 2015 transformers Dark Horse Comics Lionsgate sitcom TruTV Valentine's Day Podcast politics docudrama social media composers Spring TV Polls and Games Mindy Kaling MSNBC Nat Geo Premiere Dates YA Animation OWN American Society of Cinematographers Emmys Netflix Cartoon Network Thanksgiving GIFs ESPN A&E Mary Tyler Moore Red Carpet TIFF police drama Reality Character Guide science fiction Box Office sports E! Kids & Family Grammys comiccon Superheroes First Look Countdown Masterpiece Sundance Fox News NYCC