Claymation transportation: Chicken Run

In Nick Park and Peter Lords’ Chicken Run, we find another movie that utilizes the power of claymation and stop-motion animation to make a certain group of “clucky” characters come to life.

Chicken Run is a movie about a self-aware group of hens who are fed up with their doomed living situation at Mr. and Mrs. Tweedy’s chicken farm.

Ginger, the female protagonist, is willing to do anything to get the hens off the farm. She hopes to get the hens to a safe haven where they don’t have to worry about laying eggs for the farmers—or worse—becoming the main ingredient in one of Mrs. Tweedy’s chicken pies.

Transportation is everywhere

Transportation tends to blend into the backdrop when it comes to film, because we’re so used to seeing it in our everyday lives.

But if we take a closer look, it’s easy to find transportation in the plot of some of our favorite movies! First, let’s take a look at how the characters in Chicken Run use transportation.

Rocky hiding from the circus truck. Screenshot from Chicken Run by Dreamworks Animation, animation rights reserved
Rocky hiding from the circus truck.
Screenshot from Chicken Run by Dreamworks Animation, animation rights reserved

Shortly after a “flying” rooster falls into the chicken pen, a decorated circus van arrives at the chicken farm. It’s come to look for “Rocky the Flying Rooster.” Ginger, who witnessed Rocky flying over their pen, agrees to help Rocky hide if he teaches them to fly in return.

Then, the chicken’s escape plan becomes even more important when a mysterious delivery shows up with an order for Mrs. Tweedy. Though the chickens aren’t sure at first what the delivery is all about, Ginger has a feeling that it isn’t good (and she’s right)!

Much like Fantastic Mr. Fox, in Chicken Run, the farmers are portrayed as mean and nasty.

Throughout the movie, transportation is used by both the chickens and the people, but it’s interesting to note that while the chickens use transportation for saving the day, the people use it for things like running a business or when buying and selling things.

“Poultry in motion”

So how do the chickens use transportation?

In the beginning of the film, the chickens craft an underground pulley system (one of many failed escape plans) to pull them through a tunnel, under the fence, to safety.

Trying to escape via underground pulley.  Screenshot from Chicken Run by Dreamworks Animation, animation rights reserved
Trying to escape via underground pulley.
Screenshot from Chicken Run by Dreamworks Animation, animation rights reserved

Then, when Ginger is in danger of becoming a chicken pie, Rocky ziplines down the power line using a clothes hanger. Who knew that chickens could zipline? In Chicken Run, they certainly do.

Originally, the hens think that Rocky will be their hero because he was seen flying over the chicken coup. Thinking he can teach them to fly, the hens put their faith in Rocky, who doesn’t exactly live up to his end of the deal.

As Rocky flees the chicken farm, leaving the chickens to fend for themselves, we see him navigating through rolling hills on what appears to be the tricycle of a small toddler. Although he plans to abandon the hens, Rocky uses the same tricycle later to come back and assist the hens just in time!

Claymation hens. Screenshot from Chicken Run by Dreamworks Animation, animation rights reserved
Claymation hens.
Screenshot from Chicken Run by Dreamworks Animation, animation rights reserved

In the end, it’s Ginger who’s the hero, when she comes up with a different way to fly over the fence. Ginger proposes to engineer an airplane, which is crafted from an assortment of farm tools and materials, which they collect with the help of two farm rats. Even chickens can be engineers!

The hens all play their part in the development of the airplane, and their craftsmanship is to be admired. But will their prototype be enough to fly them to safety? Be sure to check out Chicken Run to find out!

Director: Nick Park, Peter Lord

Genre(s): Animation, Adventure, Comedy

Rating: G

Runtime: 84 min

Related links

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVdlxwX6A7g

How stop-motion animation works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVjMFU11hVA

By Hannah Postlethwait, Go! Staff Writer