For all the respect and awe I feel toward recent evolutions in animation technique, I confess to a special affection for the graphic angularity and spontaneous sketchbook effect adopted by Sylvain Chomet for The Triplets of Belleville and now The Illusionist. Those boldly inked outlines and almost architectural attention to detail remind me of classic mid-century Disney draftsmanship — The Lady and the Tramp, 101 Dalmations, The Jungle Book.
Appropriate that Chomet turns to quaint oddball subjects that match his eccentric vintage style. As we noted a few months ago, The Illusionist is based on an unproduced 1956 screenplay by Jacques Tati. Nice homage to Tati (his youngest daughter is named Sophie Tatischeff) in the form of a silent cameo from Monsieur Hulot on the marquee poster outside the theater.
A fine example of the potential energy that can be stored up in the pose of a frozen moment is on display in the poster after the cut. (Thanks to Sƒìbasti√°n at Movielicious — where you’ll find 5 pretty clips from L’Illusioniste)