THE GRUFFALO – René Aubry


Original Review by Alan Rogers

The Gruffalo is an award-winning animated film based on the already-classic children’s picture book written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler. The book tells the story of a mouse’s walk in the woods and his encounter with three dangerous animals who all wish to eat him. In turn, a fox, an owl and a snake are frightened off when the mouse tells them that he is meeting his friend, the gruffalo, whose favourite food just happens to be the relevant animal. Events take a turn when the mouse discovers that the gruffalo is in fact real and the mouse has to again think quickly to avoid becoming the monster’s next meal. Using the voice talents of an all-star cast, the half-hour 2009 film – a mixture of model and CGI animation – skilfully recreates the look and feel of the book. It’s a wonderful film that quickly became a classic, a definite feel-good animated film that is destined to become regular in holiday season TV programming schedules for years to come.

René Aubry’s lovely and evocative score makes a major contribution to the success of the film. Aubry, a French composer who has composed for both TV and film as well as composing music for several dance choreographers, is best-known for his blending of classical harmonies with modern instrumentation. But with his score for The Gruffalo, he uses a small ensemble of traditional instruments (acoustic guitar, piano, strings, woodwinds and percussion) in a variety of combinations to provide character to each of the story’s main protagonists. “The Forest” opens the album with a light, tinkling piano line played over a pattering guitar sequence that transports us to the story proper: we are in a place of babbling brooks, bright sunshine and an optimistic outlook. This is similar in style to the jaunty theme Aubry gives to “The Mouse”, the track that ends the album. The music reflects effectively the mouse’s optimistic temperament as well as re-inforcing his own success over his adversaries. Overall, each of the six tracks on The Gruffalo play as a “character study” for the various protagonists and, on the album, play as self-contained compositions (with various passages being used at appropriate parts in the story).  [Read more…]