You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Oscar-Nominated “Revolting Rhymes” Filmmakers Bring Twisty Roald Dahl Poems to Life

Writer-directors Jan Lachauer and Jakob Schuh faced a daunting task when they adapted “Revolting Rhymes,” Roald Dahl’s collection of poems with his twist on classic fairy tales. But their hard work paid off with an Oscar nomination for animated short.

Not only were they taking on the beloved author’s unique prose, but they had to weave the separate poems into one cohesive story.

“We cut the book up and started switching rhymes around and tried to conjoin the separate stories into one story without adding rhymes and without changing rhymes,” explains Schuh. “You want to have these characters that don’t know each other in the book to have a conjoined story with a conjoined ending, so the process was lengthy and tough, I have to say.”

What they ended up with is a funny and touching story about a childhood friendship between Little Red Riding Hood and Snow White and what happens to them as they grow up. Oh, and throw in the Three Little Pigs and a very resourceful Big Bad Wolf or three to keep things interesting. The result actually says a lot about female empowerment.

Schuh notes that the book, written in 1981, is full of strong female characters, both nice and not so nice. “There are some incredibly complex, strong women there. And so you get the feeling that the book doesn’t use female characters as a sort of constant uplift for male characters, but they’re people that do very surprising things and try to make sense of the hardships they face,” he says. “I wouldn’t say we did that. It’s in the book. But we sort of made that the core theme that carries through.”

While there’s a surrounding story that ties the elements together, the main focus is on Red Riding Hood and Snow White, who have separate stories in the book.

“They are basically two young girls and in this book they kind of decide to take their lives into their own hands,” says Lachauer. “But that’s the connection we found in these two stories and in the two characters. And we saw that these two girls basically have very similar approaches to their lives.”

So they brought the two together.

“We almost felt like they belonged together, these two stories, but once you decide you want them to be in one story, then it becomes tricky to actually make that work,” adds Schuh. “You want there to be a relationship between these two characters, but in the core moments between them, they never talk. There is no dialogue that they actually have in the book.”

Lachauer and Schuh found a way to bring them together when they began storyboarding. “There was a moment where one of our storyboarders boarded a sequence where they first meet at the grave of Snow White’s mother and he had this idea that one of them takes a deep breath and takes the hand of the other,” says Schuh. “For some reason, every time I clicked through the storyboard, it brought tears to my eyes. It was very strong. And so this motif of the two of them holding hands and being pulled apart sort of carried through the film. From the reactions we get, we have a feeling the people see that as a strong relationship.”

Schuh and Lachauer are no strangers to the Oscars. Each have been nominated in the animated short category before: Schuh along with Max Lang for 2009’s “The Gruffalo” and Lachauer alongside Lang for 2012’s “Room on the Broom.” All three films are from Magic Light Pictures.  On March 4, “Revolting Rhymes” will face off against “Dear Basketball,” “Garden Party,” “Negative Space” and “Lou.” The film has already won a raft of awards including an Annie Award for special production, a BAFTA Children’s Award and Annecy’s Cristal Award.

But the thrill of getting an Oscar nomination remains. “I stood in my kitchen and was just screaming,” say Schuh of when he heard “Revolting Rhymes” had been nominated. “You don’t think of these things when you’re make a film.”

Lachauer is happy for the nomination because it means more people may see the film. “There’s a focus on it and without the nomination that might not happen. That’s the main thing I’m happy about, that more people are going to see this film and see the story we’re telling about these two girls and the wolf.”

For a behind-the-scenes look at their designs, drawings and storyboards, visit their Instagram page.


More Film

  • Face to Face with German Films

    Face to Face with German Films Unveils the Six ‘Faces’ of 2019 (EXCLUSIVE)

    Teutonic promotional organization German Films has announced that its annual initiative supporting German filmmaking internationally, Face to Face With German Films, will focus on actors and actresses as the campaign enters its fourth year. Six of Germany’s leading thesps – Maria Dragus, Christian Friedel, Luise Heyer, Jonas Nay, Jördis Triebel and Fahri Yardim – will [...]

  • (L to R) VIGGO MORTENSEN and

    'Green Book' Lands Post-Oscars Theatrical Release in China

    Fresh off Monday’s news that it had picked up five Academy Award nominations, best picture favorite “Green Book” is set for more good luck. The film will hit Chinese theaters on March 1, the first weekend after the Oscars, which fall on Feb 24, Alibaba Pictures announced on its official social media account. The film [...]

  • Fan Bingbing

    Chinese Celebrities Pay $1.7 Billion in Back Taxes Following Fan Bingbing Scandal

    Chinese film and TV stars have paid some $1.7 billion (RMB11.7 billion) of additional taxes, following the mid-2018 scandal surrounding actress Fan Bingbing. The figure was announced Tuesday by China’s State Tax Administration. Chinese authorities launched a probe into the taxation affairs of the entertainment sector in October. Companies and individuals were asked to examine [...]

  • Yalitza Aparicio as Cleo, Marco Graf

    Film News Roundup: AMC, Regal to Leave 'Roma' Out of Best Picture Showcases

    In today’s film news roundup, “Roma” will not be in the best picture showcases at AMC and Regal, “Jimi Hendrix: Electric Church” gets a release and SAG-AFTRA’s David White has a new appointment. ‘ROMA’ SPURNED AMC Theatres and Regal Cinemas are leaving Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma” out of their upcoming annual showings of the contenders for [...]

  • First Look at SAG Awards' Cuban

    First Look at SAG Awards' Cuban-Inspired After-Party (EXCLUSIVE)

    Celebrities at this year’s SAG Awards won’t have to go far for some tropical fun. Sunday’s annual post-show gala, hosted by People magazine for the 23rd year, is set to feature a Cuban-themed party space adjacent to the Shrine Auditorium. “We’re kind of going back to more of a thematic element. I have some close [...]

  • Paul DavidsonVariety Big Data Summit Presented

    Listen: The Orchard's Paul Davidson on Surviving Sundance Bidding Wars

    Hollywood heads to Park City, Utah this week in the hopes of finding the next big Sundance Film Festival breakout. Paul Davidson, executive vice president of film and television at The Orchard, plans to be in the thick of it. In today’s edition of Variety‘s “Strictly Business” podcast, Davidson opens up about The Orchard’s strategy [...]

  • Young Tony Soprano in 'Sopranos' Movie:

    James Gandolfini's Son Michael Gandolfini Cast as Tony Soprano in 'Sopranos' Movie

    Michael Gandolfini, son of the late James Gandolfini, will play the young Tony Soprano in “The Many Saints of Newark,” the  prequel movie to the television series “The Sopranos.” “It’s a profound honor to continue my dad’s legacy while stepping into the shoes of a young Tony Soprano,” Gandolfini said. “I’m thrilled that I am [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content