The Iron Giant
Runtime: 86 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35 : 1
Director: Brad Bird
Release Date: 08/06/99
A touching animation about friendship and acceptance, The Iron Giant is a fun film for kids of all ages with a powerful moral to boot.
The Iron Giant tells the story of Hogarth Hughes, a headstrong nine-year-old boy who meets a giant iron robot that landed on the Earth from space. While the 50-foot iron giant is terrifying at first, Hogarth gives him a chance and learns that he is actually quite innocent with a childlike curiosity and thirst for knowledge, not to mention a ravenous hunger for metal! Hogarth finds himself tied to protecting the Iron Giant from a paranoid US Government agent named Kent Mansley and, in doing so, saving his town from the prejudices and fears its people cling to.
The story takes place during 1957. It was during this historical year that the Soviets launched Sputnik, the first manmade satellite, into space; rock and roll was makings its move on the music scene; and fear of “the A bomb” was looming. In the United States, fears and prejudices were numerous during this historical time and these are represented in the movie. The Iron Giant uses these themes to weave in strong morals of acceptance as well as anti-war and anti-gun messages.
The Iron Giant has been praised for presenting complex morals and big, tough subjects in a non-preachy way. The film brings up issues that parents can talk about with their children and that adults can debate about with their friends. Additionally, though the film discusses difficult issues, it doesn’t leave out humor. The characters are quirky and at times laugh-out-loud funny making for an entertaining and exciting plot. Hogarth chases the Iron Giant’s detached metal hand around the house, the giant attempts a cannonball into a lake and, of course, a little bit of flatulence goes a long way to leave audiences in stitches!
One of the most highly praised aspects of the film is the script. The film is based on a 1968 story by British poet Ted Hughes called Iron Man. The writing has been praised for addressing complicated issues in a manner that is simple enough for children to understand, while incorporating deeper meaning for adult audiences. Nuances and references go over children’s heads without a hitch to make the film fun for adults as well.
The animation in the film has been an area of contention. The Iron Giant features retro, Ike-era animation and design. The backgrounds are often static and, compared to more recent animated films with life-like 3D graphics, the animation in The Iron Giant falls short of impressive. However, while some people feel that the animation hinders the film, others think that the design adds to the retro, 1950s feel of The Iron Giant. The Iron Giant is a period piece at heart and the animation seems to fit it perfectly.
Though director Brad Bird made his film debut with The Iron Giant, he has gone on to direct the popular animated blockbusters The Incredibles and Ratatouille, proving his genius as a director of animated films. The film also features a number of celebrity actors including Jennifer Aniston, Harry Connick Jr., and Vin Diesel.
Aside from a whirlwind cast and top animation director, The Iron Giant was also the recipient of 19 awards, including awards from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, the Annie Awards, the Satellite Awards and more.
The Iron Giant is charming, endearing and an all around good film choice for viewers looking to learn a little something about humanity while being entertained at the same time.