Best Animated Sequences in Live Action Movies
Pop culture has historically placed the art of animation firmly in the domain of children’s entertainment. But the art form has much more to offer than creating colorful and simplistic stories for younger minds. The best storytellers know that animation can be a potent form of conveying ideas for any age group.
That is why many filmmakers making movies for adult audiences have used animation to add new dimensions to their stories. Let us take a look at times when important sequences in live-action movies have been expressed via animation. Here are the 10 finest animated sequences in otherwise fully live action films.
10 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1
The Harry Potter franchise deals primarily with a fantasy world of wizards and witches filled with all manners of impossible things. The series does a good job of using practical effects and CGI to tell its story. But there was one point in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 where the filmmakers decided to do away completely with the real world and instead employ animation to recount a legend that exists within the world of Harry Potter.
When Harry and his allies seek to understand the origins of the magical artifacts called “The Deathly Hallows,” they are told the tale of three ancient wizard brothers. The story unfolds onscreen in animated form inspired by shadow puppet theater. This results is an eerie, gothic tone to the animation that makes the story of the three brothers’ encounter with Death feel like a horror story rather than a children’s fable.
9 Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Oscar-winning filmmaker Guillermo del Toro has always been open about his love for animation and puppetry design. Both these loves are on full display at the start of Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Before the main plot is set in motion, audiences are treated to an animated sequence which tells the story of a world that existed before mankind became the dominant species on Earth.
The story is told in the form of a children’s tale from the Middle Ages, and the animation enforces that sense of age. Instead of using modern cartoon styles, the characters in the animation are presented as rough wooden puppets being pulled by invisible strings. The sequence allows the movie to pull off a visually spectacular battle between humans and faeries without spending a fortune on CGI or live-action filming.
8 Jurassic Park
Today audiences take for granted the blockbuster nature of the Jurassic Park franchise. But back when Steven Spielberg was making the first movie in the series, Jurassic Park, there was a lot of skepticism about whether you could make a story about dinosaurs running around in the modern world believable to the audience.
Spielberg knew he needed to get audiences on board with the central conceit of the movie as soon as possible to truly immerse them in the cinematic experience of watching dinosaurs rampaging around a theme park. To that end, the filmmaker made use of an animated sequence early on in the movie. The sequence unfolds like a traditional children’s educational cartoon, explaining in the simplest of terms how scientists were able to harvest dino DNA from nature to create modern dinosaurs.
7 Black Panther
Amidst a sea of content in the MCU, the Black Panther series stands tall with a deep and extended lore regarding the secret kingdom of Wakanda that is ruled over and protected by the titular Black Panther. The main source of power in Wakanda is the alien metal vibranium, one of the most powerful substances in the universe.
Black Panther, an animated sequence tells the story of Wakanda’s creation. The sequence plays out like a CGI cartoon, primarily using black and blue hues to explain how a meteor containing vibranium crash-landed in Africa centuries ago, affecting all living organisms in the area and giving rise to the nation of Wakanda as well as its protector Black Panther.At the start of
Hollywood is not the only film industry that uses animation to tell grown-up stories. Aalavandhan is a 2001 Indian movie that tells the tale of a merciless killer named Nandhu and his twin brother Vijay. In a particularly gory sequence, Nandhu attacks a female character with a knife. The scene turns into an animation, showing Nandhu attacking his victim with over-the-top viciousness.
The scene caused a great uproar when the movie released in India. It was also noticed by Quentin Tarantino, who thereafter used a similarly bloody and violent animated sequence in his movie Kill Bill Vol. 1 to show the murder of the Yakuza boss Matsumoto at the hands of O-Ren. The scene borrows the animation style of Japanese anime as a tribute to the East Asian roots of the story Tarantino wanted to tell.
5 Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Monty Python was a world-famous British comedy troupe that enjoyed great popularity since the 1970s. The crew of comedians parlayed their increasing fame on television to make a number of cult classic movies, the most memorable being 1975’s Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The film takes an absurdist approach to the story of King Arthur and his quest to discover the Holy Grail.
Naturally the production budget of the movie was not large enough to warrant huge action set pieces. At one point, King Arthur and his knights encounter a dragon-like creature called the Black Beast of Aaargh. The confrontation between the beast and Arthur’s men plays out in animated form. The knights are helpless against the monster. Until the narrator announces that the animator has suffered a heart attack and can no longer draw the beast, leaving the heroes free to continue their epic quest.
Enchanted was intended to be a send-up to classic fairy tale movies in the vein of popular Disney animated features. To that end, the movie begins with a cartoon montage in an animation style clearly modeled after Disney art. The montage reveals the story of Giselle, a beautiful young woman living in the fairy tale kingdom of Andalasia, engaged to be married to the dashing Prince Edward.
The story begins proper when Giselle and her friends are thrown into the live-action world of New York due to magic shenanigans. After a series of adventures in the real world, Giselle elects to remain in the world of live-action, while her friends return to the cartoon world with another animated climax montage.
Animation is not always meant to bring cheer and comfort. The 2015 Christmas horror film Krampus makes use of an animated sequence to reveal the sinister origins of the villain of the piece, the dreaded monster known as the Krampus. The story unfolds in the form of a fable recounted by a grandmother to her family.
Through the animation, the grandmother recounts how the people in her town had once lost the spirit of Christmas due to great hardships. The lack of faith in the holiday triggered the arrival of the demonic Krampus, who dragged all the townsfolk to hell. Only the grandmother was left behind with a talisman that could once again summon the demon at a future date.
2 Annie Hall
Woody Allen’s filmography is full of fanciful meditations on love and heartbreak in modern times. Allen also has a habit of using pop culture markers in his stories to get his point across to the audience. For instance, Annie Hall was a 1977 movie featuring Allen as a comedian trying to come to grips with his failed romance with the titular female character.
At one point, Allen’s character Alvy admits that his choice of women has never been traditional. In an animated sequence, Alvy imagines Annie in the role of the Wicked Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, arguing over their relationship and the reasons why the two are unable to get along.
1 Catch Me If You Can
Considering his love for colorful filmmaking and role as producer for many memorable cartoon shows, it is rather surprising that Steven Spielberg has never directed a full-on animated movie. But the esteemed auteur managed to sneak in a tribute to his love for animation in the decidedly grown-up feature Catch Me If You Can.
The film starts with an elaborate cartoon sequence for the opening credits. In keeping with the theme of the story, the sequence shows faceless animated characters leading double lives and giving each other the slip, reflecting the cat-and-mouse life of Frank Abagnale Jr. that the movie is based on.