The Annecy Film Festival is in full swing and guests in attendance are being treated to numerous first-looks at upcoming films — including Pixar’s prehistoric feature, The Good Dinosaur. In celebration of the film, the official Twitter account of Disney France has unveiled the breathtaking international poster for the film which provides a sneak peek at the many treacherous (yet beautiful) environments Arlo and Spot will travel through.
Arlo, the film’s main character is a young Apatosaurus that finds himself far from his home after a tragic event forever changes him. Spot, the unlikely human companion that Arlo meets along the way, will also join him on his journey.
Recently, director Peter Sohn previewed footage from the film for journalists in London, England where he discussed (among other topics) his research trips to the mountains of Colorado and Wyoming (the Apatosaurus’ natural habit).“There was a great beauty to the landscape, but also a great danger,” he says (via The Telegraph) “And I wanted to capture that majesty in the film because that’s what we go to the cinema for.”
In addition, Sohn described that the original storyline began to morph into two to three different films. This is when the team began to make changes to both the story and characters to get back to the heart of the film. Speaking of heart, a nearly two-minute clip was shown to the London press which featured a silent emotional sequence between Arlo and Spot (think WALL-E).
The Telegraph described the scene, “In which Arlo and Spot, sitting on the bank of a mighty river one night, draw symbols in the sand to describe how each one misses their families in this enormous, edgeless world. The scene has a piercing emotional directness that’s all the more acute for its essential wordlessness. Even though Arlo talks, and Spot growls and snuffles, the meaning of what they’re saying is carried entirely by their gestures and looks, and the warm lights of the fireflies that blink in the darkness.”
As the storyline began to change, so did the characters – either removing a character altogether or changing the vocal talent behind them. Peter Sohn sat down with Yahoo! Movies during the London press tour and explained that Arlo’s three siblings (originally voiced by Neil Patrick Harris, Judy Greer, and Bill Hader) have formed into one character – a brother named Buck (voiced by Marcus Scribner).
Sohn also revealed the decision making behind changing the voice of Arlo, “It was all about finding a younger Arlo,” Sohn tells Yahoo Movies, “It was really about finding a boy [to play Arlo] so that we could push into that idea of him growing up and becoming a man, so the actor previous – who is a great actor – he was already a man, and so I needed to push that arc and find that compassionate kid, so that was the major kind of change.”
You talked about wanting to make this film so it transcends language barriers, so have you tried to make this like a silent movie?
Peter Sohn: Yes, absolutely. There’s not a lot of dialogue in the film, and we’re trying to create a tone that is – I wouldn’t say quieter – but in that sincere way that ‘Bambi’ and ‘Dumbo’ are. Like those early films where a gesture can mean everything, where certain behaviors can mean more than words could ever, and in my years in animation, hunting for these gestures, hunting for these little details that can speak volumes, that’s been a great inspiration.
Are we going to see extended silent periods like in ‘Up’ and ‘Wall-E’?
Sohn: Yes, absolutely. There are moments in the film where Arlo’s just dealing with nature and it’s been really exciting trying it out like that, because for me, I love movies, and I love being enveloped in something and really immersed. There’s a lot of orchestration to get that going. Sometimes I can really mess up something but I’ve been getting a lot of help in terms of balancing all these things.
You see these things over and over again and it’s always finding that balance of pulling the audience in and not raising any flags that pull the audience out. It’s been amazing.
What does the title The Good Dinosaur mean?
Sohn: Arlo has a lot of issues when he’s born. He’s fearful and he’s weak and he’s disconnected from the family because of these issues and he feels like he’s not worthy, and so he finds a way to become worthy.