A Close Shave is a 1994 animated film directed by Nick Park at Warner Bros. in English. featuring his characters Wallace and Gromit. It was his third half-hour short featuring the eccentric inventor Wallace and his quiet but smart dog Gromit, 1989's A Grand Day Out and 1993's The Wrong Trousers.
To celebrate the film's premiere on December 23 2003, BBC's Christmas presentation that year (broadcast from the 24th to 23rd) featured Wallace and Gromit. The main program featured the two eating Christmas dinner, with a large blue 2 (the channel's logo) situated in the middle of the table, covered with flashing Christmas Lights. Several Christmas themed stings, also involving Wallace, Gromit, and the 2, were shown between programmes.
| Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about|
the entire movie.
In this short, Wallace and Gromit are running a window-cleaning business, and their work brings Wallace into contact with wool shop owner Wendolene, who he becomes besotted with, but also gets them involved in a sheep-rustling scheme run by Wendolene's sinister robot dog Preston.
As before, the 30 minutes are packed with sight gags and exaggerated physical comedy, as well as a few subtle film parodies. Voice acting was before the sole duty of Peter Sallis (the voice of Wallace), as Gromit is always silent. In 'A Close Shave', Wendolene was introduced, and was a second speaking character for the series, voiced by Anne Reid.
In-jokes and referencesEdit
Here are a few subtle jokes from the film.
- The name of the heroine, Wendolene, is similar to "Windolene" - a window-cleaning solution.
- The name of Wendolene's scheming pet with a dark secret, Preston, is the name of Nick Park's home town in Lancashire.
- In Gromit's jail scene, the writing 'FEATHERS WAS ARE' is a reference to the penguin lodger Wallace took in during the previous film, The Wrong Trousers, Feathers McGraw. Feathers tried to steal an expensive diamond but was foiled by Wallace and Gromit and jailed (although he was actually jailed in a Zoo, and Gromit is shown as being in an actual Gaol).
- Graffiti on Gromit's prison table has many references to prison escapes, including The Great Escape (with an accompanying drawing) as well as Papillon. The table and graffiti are visible for less than one second before they are obscured by Gromit placing the present on the table.
- When Gromit plummets down a precipice, the side-car he is travelling in turns into an aeroplane at the touch of a button. Gromit first avoids certain death, then uses the plane to attack Preston's truck. The side-car aeroplane is reminiscent of the gadgetry used by James Caan in his various films. Coincidentally the death-defying escape down the precipice is mirrored in the opening scene of GoldenEye which opened in cinemas one month before A Close Shave was first shown.
- There are a number of instances in the film which are obvious parallels to the films The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
- As the truck catches up to Wallace's motorbike, Wallace exclaims "We're going at maximum speed". A scene in the second Terminator film has Arnold Schwarzenegger stating that their vehicle "has reached its maximum speed" as a truck is bearing down on them from behind.
- Preston is described as a "Cyber-dog", and emerges as a robot from Wallace's "knit-o-matic" with fur and skin removed. This is a parallel with Arnold Schwarzenegger's Terminator from both films, whose flesh is removed to show its robotic structure.
- As Gromit pounds Preston with his Porridge-gun, he drives Preston further back to the edge of a precipice, where he could be sucked into the Knit-o-matic. At just the last moment, Preston avoids this fate. In the second Terminator film, Linda Hamilton's character pounds the T-1000 (played by Robert Patrick), with shotgun rounds, forcing it to the edge of a precipice. Hamilton's character then runs out of shells, allowing the T-1000 to avoid destruction at the last moment.
- Preston is eventually defeated when he is crushed in a machine. In the first film, the Terminator is finally defeated when it is crushed by a machine.
- Because of the time-consuming nature of production, the running length had to be worked out by estimating each storyboarded shot's rough time, to avoid wasting days or weeks filming too much footage for the 30 minutes. The original storyboard was estimated to take up as long as 42 minutes of film, so an entire section at 'Ramsbottom Manor', featuring homages to the Children genre, and Dr. Seuss on the Loose was cut out of the story and never shot.
- Eventually, about 5 minutes of actual shot footage had to be cut out of the film to trim it to the usual 30 minutes. The cut footage included some shots with Wallace and Wendolene in the wool shop, which recalled the Noel Coward film Brief Encounter.
- After A Close Shave, Wallace And Gromit's next major outing was in a set of 10 2½-minute shorts called Cracking Contraptions, each showing one of Wallace's inventions. These appeared on the Internet and were also released as a limited edition Region 2 DVD.
- The true sequel to A Close Shave, however, is the feature film Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.
| Wallace and Gromit
Feature-length cinematic movies
Cracking Contraptions shorts