Archive for August 14th, 2016

iron giant

by Brandie Ashe

When Brad Bird first pitched the idea of adapting Ted Hughes’ 1968 science-fiction children’s novel The Iron Man to Warner Bros., he reportedly did so by posing a simple yet effective question: “What if a gun had a soul?” It’s that intriguing, yet not altogether subtle theme that winds throughout Bird’s 1999 film version of the story, retitled The Iron Giant for its cinematic release.

In developing the story for the big screen, Bird and screenwriter Tim McCanlies excised a large part of Hughes’ novel (essentially eliminating the entire final section, in which the Iron Man battles an intergalactic space dragon) and moved the action from England to the pictaresque, appropriately-named Rockwell, a seaport town in Maine that serves as a perfect microcosm of small-town America in 1957. The resulting film focuses less on outside conflict and more on the loving relationship that develops between Hogarth Hughes (Eli Mariental) and the Iron Giant (Vin Diesel) as Hogarth attempts to protect his new friend from a suspicious government agent, Kent Mansley (Christopher McDonald).

The Iron Giant is steeped in the paranoia of its Cold War-era setting, and its depiction of the time period is rather on-point. From the spot-on parody of that Cold War classroom staple, Duck and Cover (the ridiculousness of the concept of a school desk protecting someone from a nuclear blast is pointed out by several characters), to the fear-driven Mansley’s incredibly stupid and short-sighted call for a nuclear strike on the robot–and the very town in which he himself is standing–Giant captures the almost irrational terror of the unknown that resulted from the nuclear arms race between the United States and the USSR.   (more…)

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