It’s been a decade since Puss in Boots was re-imagined in DreamWorks’ animated hit Shrek. The character remains the same – charismatic, dangerous and passionate – but his world has a surreal edge, unlike the ‘fairy tale brought to life’ realism in the original.
“It was great to see that ‘oh wow’, we could do something a little more surreal, a little stranger and ethereal and beautiful and not lose the character in all that,” director Chris Miller says, pointing to the scene where Puss in Boots (with companions Humpty Dumpty and Kitty Softpaws), plant magic beans which grow into an ever-expanding beanstalk, leading to the infamous treasure-filled castle in the sky.
“A sequence like that just wouldn’t exist in a Shrek movie – it just wouldn’t – it would never fit,” Miller, who also helmed Shrek the Third, says.
But it was the clouds that surround the magic castle (and the treasured golden eggs) that presented the biggest challenge.
“We’ve seen clouds in movies but these were volumetric, they had shape and size and proportion and depth to them in a way that took a few years of development just to figure that out and to have it come out believable.”
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Salma Hayek (Kitty Softpaws) and Antonio Banderas (Puss in Boots) at the Brazil premiere of Puss in Boots.
The quality of DreamWorks’ 3D animation remains suitably impressive but Miller points to the quality of the story as the underlying reason for the film’s success. It has already grossed about $US228 million around the world with several major foreign territories still to come.
“Whether you’re talking a comedy, action-adventure like we’ve got with Puss in Boots, or a very dramatic tale – just delivering it in a compelling way and an emotional way and hopefully a moving way; to me that’s what’s going to make any film stand out – all the pretty pictures and excitement aside.”
Some of those pretty pictures were made in India – a first for a DreamWorks' feature film, although Miller’s enthusiasm for such outsourcing is somewhat subdued.
“That’s its own adventure,” he says. “I think the work – it all got there. But it took a bit more time just to get everything matching and make sure the performances were up to speed.”
Puss in Boots is released in Australian cinemas by Paramount on December 8.
Puss in Boots director Chris Miller.