The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb

Posted: July 26, 2009 in Movies

Way back in college the Anime Ghost in the shell was getting a lot of hype. I bought it on VHS, and before the movie they had this awsome preview for various manga titles with a rockin soundtrack by KMFDM. One of the clips they showed was for a claymation picture called The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb. I always liked claymation and this looked really wierd and different, a.k.a. something I’d like to see. As anime became more available in stores I kept an eye out for it, but never saw it anywhere, and never saw it on TV. (I mistakenly thought it was anime, it’s actually British, but Manga Entertainment distributed it.

Anyway I’d long forgotten about it when last week at the Bucheon film fest I just happened to see to see it in a store for like 3 bucks. Completely freaking out/geeking out I bought it.

So anyway, let’s talk about it. It’s only 58 minutes, and mixes claymation with live action shots. The live action shots however, are done using a technique called pixilation, where the actors are filmed one frame at a time. It’s basically stop motion animation with real people. The effect is the actual people in the movie move as if they too were claymation characters.

The plot is simple, a wife appears to miscarriage, but actually gives birth to a tiny boy they call Tom Thumb. (Tom is a claymation character) Only a few inches high, he is eventually kidnapped by humans and taken to some lab. He is zapped with one machine and turns into all different shapes, including a resemblence of his mom, his dad, a spaceman holding a baby, and then back to his former self. I don’t know what this means, I interepeted that all human evolution is contained in Tom. Anyway there are all kinds of grotesque creatures in the lab, and one of them helps him escape.

Escaping the lab he finds a village of other small people like him. One of them, Jack the Giant Killer, helps him get back to his parents, and finally back to the lab to stop the bad scientists.

The claymation gives a feel of a sad strange world. It may remind some of the Tool music videos that used claymations. We’re never quite sure who the villains are or what their exact plans are. Also apparently his mom dies somehow, I didn’t get that and don’t see how it helped the story. Tom is not very active in the story, he just watches what happens around him as other characters lead the way. I think this made me not feel for him as much as I should have. There’s also almost no dialogue, the characters usually just make grunting sounds. This keeps the philosophising of whats going on up to the viewer.

The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb is quite an interesting experience. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty unique. 8/10

P.S. Just for fun I’ll add that Manga promo from way back when. Look for Tom Thumb at 3:21


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