Chicken Run is a chicken escape story where the stakes are incredibly high and the lighting is incredibly low. It wasn't until I was studying it for this blog that I realized how dark this film was. It has some elements that are eerily based on WWII. How did I miss those details the first time I watched it? Maybe it was because the characters are chickens and made out of clay? That and I was 10 years old and didn't understand history.
The military/WWII aura was present from the very first sequence (which happened to be the one I studied).
The color green is present everywhere, in reference to WWII, as that was the shade of many military uniforms. Even Mrs. Tweedy was surrounded by green.
And the 'camp'...
In the end, there's a brighter shade of green. It kind of reminds me of how the Prince of Egypt used color. While the characters are enslaved, the colors are muted and dirty. Then when free, the colors brighten and become more saturated like the shot below from the end of the film.
There are some great shots where repetition are used - I think another reference to military.
It is important to pay attention to the shadows in a film like this. Even in shots of broad daylight, there’s always a shadow looming. Especially in sequences where the chickens are planning their shenanigans. There’s a lot of shots in low-key. This is partly because most of the plans are executed under the cover of night.
But then even when the tone is supposed to be lighthearted, like when Rocky starts a dancing party, the lights are still muted and the shots are still low-key. Lighter, but still dark.
Everything feels secretive. Filled with impending doom.
Impending doom...like an oven.
In the context of seeing this film as influenced by WWII, this is the ultimate evil. This is putting your character in Hell. And it's a chicken vs. an oven.
Chicken Run is going to be one of those movies where each time I watch it, I will observe something new. I love movies like that. There are layers and layers of historical allusions and stories that will reveal themselves the more I watch it. I might have to do a part 2.
What did you think of the movie? Did you have any thoughts about it's historical nature?