“Animation is an art form, and it can do any genre.”
– Brad Bird
If there is any animation director that could be considered an auteur genius, it would be Brad Bird.
In addition to making three modern animated classics, he has directed a few live-action films as well.
And he’s currently working on the much-anticipated and constantly-asked-for sequel to The Incredibles.
Growing up an animation fan, especially Disney, Bird wanted to become an animator himself. He wound up finding himself in the first Character Animation program of the California Institute of the Arts (also known as CalArts) in 1975.
After graduating from Cal Arts, he found himself a job at Disney but soon left after only working on The Fox and the Hound. However, he wasn’t too happy there as he didn’t like how the studio was treating their animated films.
After Disney, he took a job working on a television series known as Amazing Stories.
Bird was allowed to write, direct, and co-produce his own cartoon for the series, called Family Dog.
After that, he went on to work on some of the early episodes of a little cartoon you might have heard of called The Simpsons.
Bird later went on to work at Warner Bros. to direct his first animated film based on the Ted Hughes book, The Iron Man, The Iron Giant.
Then, we went on to reunite with his friend, John Lasseter, and work at Pixar to make two of his next animated films, both of which won Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature.
I’ve when he is doing animation, he makes sure that those movies do things in a way you couldn’t do in live-action. This includes making the humans caricatured and appealing and adding an element that is not in the normal world (whether it’s a giant robot, superheroes, or a cooking rat). However, he strikes the nice balance between cartoony and realistic, where you know they are not real people and that it’s not just a live-action film and yet you can still feel empathy for these characters and make them feel like they are alive.
I think what makes these films so beloved and so acclaimed is because Brad Bird took these films seriously. He didn’t think of these as just silly cartoons, he thought of these as legitimate films that just happened to be animated. Which is probably why he jumped to live-action films so easily. However, he’ll always be remembered for his animated films because he made great quality films that could be enjoyed by child and adults alike.
And that is pretty incredible.