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  Short British Films &  TV Specials

      "Rupert and the Frog Sonyg" copyright Express Newspapers/MPL Communications

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Rupert and
  the Frog Song
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producers: MPL Communications
cel animation
       run time:
13 mins

"Win or lose, sink or swim,
     One thing is certain we'll never give in..."


Rupert Bear's transition from print to screen has been a long and convoluted
     affair. TV gold has been struck on a number of occasions - firstly and most
     successfully with
 Mary Turner's splendid puppet series of the 70s - but mining
     the Feature Film Motherlode has proven far tougher. One particularly keen
     (and famous!) Rupert fan has been chipping away for two decades, and in 1984
     his short film came within a whisker of being the perfect theatrical launchpad.

     Back in the seventies, singer/songwriter/genius Paul McCartney who has always
     been a keen animation aficionado, started work on a proposed Rupert feature to
     be helmed by animator Oscar Grillo. Indeed he put together a whole album of
     songs for the film in 1979, but for whatever reason, no film followed. Jump forward
     five years and now we find animator Geoff Dunbar donning the director's hat in
     order to bring one of McCartney's songs "We All Stand Together" into leaping,
     rippling life as an extended pop promo and advert for McCartney's Grand Plan.
     It's a simple premise: Rupert decides to take a walk in the hills one day. With
     his Mother's blessing he sets off for a jolly trip. En route he encounters
     friends Bill Badger and Edward Trunk and Rupert asks them to join him,
     but both are just too busy. Once in the hills, Rupert props himself against
     the trunk of an oak and sucks in the glory of the countryside - and suddenly
     finds himself enveloped by a rainbow cloud of butterflies. The butterflies swarm
     away towards a rocky outcrop and Rupert can't resist following them.
     Upon the rocks Rupert finds a collection of hopping frogs. They lead him
     to a pool and on toward a waterfall. Here he discovers a secret cleft behind
     the curtain of water that leads to a cavern, and a sign:


     This is the cavern of the Frog Show, and from here on there are a menagerie
     of froggy folk, families, fireflies, will-o-wisps, orchestral amphibians, ballet
     dancers, balloonists, even a splendid goldfish - all performing to the
     hummable, sing-a-long delights of "We All Stand Together". The
     highlight of the spectacle features a veritable shower of frogs diving
     into the pool to perform an abstract, watery dance as they welcome the
     Frog King and Queen to the event. Rupert eventually returns home to his
     watchful Mother full of froggy joy and wonder...

       It's raining frogs in this image from "Rupert and the Frog Song"  - copyright Express Newspapers/ MPL Communications

     As a promotional tool it worked out splendidly. "We All Stand Together"
     reached number 3 in the British Singles Charts and was a hit around the
     world. The Frog Song film was released theatrically as an accompaniment
     to McCartney's live-action feature "Give My Regards to Broad Street" and
     subsequently acquired a clutch of high-profile awards including a BAFTA
     for Best Animated Short. On video the film was packaged with animated
     promos for "Seaside Woman" and "Oriental Nightfish". The half-hour tape
     went on to be one of the best-selling retail titles of 1985.

     But amazingly, even with such high-profile success to build upon, McCartney's
     long-gestating film did not materialize. In 1987 the project awoke when Macca
     recorded another new Rupert song with arranger George Martin, but the track
     was never released as a single and alas yet again, no feature followed. Since
     then, the high-profile tv series from Nelvana has feasted upon the world market
     whilst the rights to Rupert have switched hands, and it now seems unlikely
     that the McCartney film will ever see the light of day.

     But a most successful partnership has flourished on the back of Macca's
     efforts. In
1989 McCartney laid down a musical score for a new film project,
     "Daumier's Law". Dunbar was commissioned to direct and produce the 15min
     short which brought the drawings of French artist Honore Daumier to life.
     It premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 1992 and, like Frog Song eight
     years earlier, collected a BAFTA for Best Animated Short. In 1998 Macca 
     and Dunbar teamed again on the video to "Tropical Island Hum'" And then,
     in 2002 they premiered their acclaimed new short film "Tuesday". Adapted
     from the book by David Weisner, this is another amphibian-filled fantasy
     about frogs on lilly pads who, on one particular Tuesday evening take a
     twilight flight into town. The film is narrated by actor Dustin Hoffman and
     is dedicated to Paul's late wife Linda. It was shown at the Venice Film Festival
     and went on to give the Macca/Dunbar partnership their third BAFTA Nomination.
     Whilst promoting the project in Italy Macca was very vocal about his passion
     for animation and commitment to making a full-length feature soon - even
     giving a hint that it might again feature frogs...

     Frogs are good, but little bears would be better still, eh?

» Officially the full Frog Song film title is "Paul McCartney's Rupert and the
         Frog Song", and the song credit for "We All Stand Together" cites Paul
         McCartney and the Frog Chorus - the latter being an ensemble of the
         St Paul's Choir together with the King's Singers...

» McCartney's connections with animation began in the sixties with the
         Beatles TV series which, in turn, lead to that triumphant mixture of music,
         and Meanie mayhem Yellow Submarine. Apparently, Paul's favourite
         animated feature is "Lady and the Tramp"...

» Director Geoff Dunbar is a most influential animator. His career started
         at the W M Larkins studio in London. A stint with Halas & Batchelor followed.
         In 1975 he collected a short film award at Cannes for "Lautrec" - a film which
         brought to life Toulouse Lautrec's cancan drawings. His most daring work
         was displayed in "Ubu", an adaptation of a notorious award-winning play
         by Alfred Jarry released in 1979. Half funded by the Arts Council of Great
         Britain "Ubu" is a bold, outspoken twenty minute film which shocked critics
         and distributors and collected several notable awards - including a 1980
         Golden Bear. The contrast with his subsequent work on Rupert couldn't be
         more dramatic. And indeed, Dunbar has since directed three episodes
         of TVC's Peter Rabbit and friends: "The Tale of Peter Rabbit and Benjamin
         Bunny" (1992), "The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle and Mr Jeremy Fisher" (1993),
         and "The Tale of Mr Tod" (1994), and Percy the Park Keeper in One Snowy

» McCArtney and Dunbar have most recently reteamd on a storybook, with
         Philip Ardagh.
High in the Clouds is a ballooning adventure starring
         Wirral the Squirrel - another Macca creation. And in June 2009, it was
         announced that this was to be turned into an animated feature, directed
         by Rob Minkhoff ("The Lion King", "Stuart Little")...



     Frog Song fans should keep their eyes peeled for the small, but perfectly
     formed, Ladybird tie-in book filled with splendid screen shots from the film.
     "We All Stand Together" was also released as a fantastic shaped picture disc
     featuring Macca and Rupert. On its original video release, a collectable
     edition was packaged to resemble a book, with a special owner's
     bookplate on the inside...

      Rupert And The Frog Song book



      1985 BAFTA - Best Animated Short Film


      See also

The Adventures of Rupert Bear
Rupert Bear, Follow the Magic


      In the news

      The Hound: September 2003

      Rupert rights wrangle sorted...

      The Hound: April 2003

      Rupert rights wrangle...

      The Hound: June 2000

      Rupert Annual at auction...

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     The Frog Song on DVD

     UK DVD Paul McCartney: The Animation Collection
                Region 2 / Buena Vista / September 2004
 USA DVD Paul McCartney: Music & Animation Collection
                Region 1 / Miramax / April 2004


     director:              Geoff Dunbar
     writers:               Geoff Dunbar, Paul McCartney,
                               Linda McCartney
     exec prods:         Paul and Linda McCartney
     music arranger:   George Martin
     song:                  "We All Stand Together"
                               words and music by Paul McCartney
                               performed with The Frog Chorus
                               (aka The King's Singers)
                               and St Paul's Choir
     voices:               Paul McCartney (Rupert/Edward/Bill/Boy Frog)
                              Windsor Davies (Rupert's Father/Father Frog)
                              June Whitfield (Rupert's Mother)
                              Linda McCartney


      On the web

       Rupert and the Frog Song
       Matt Blank unofficial fan site is terrific, packed with info and images
       from this jolly film...

       The Followers of Rupert
       The official site for all things Rupert related, although The Frog Song
       doesn't get too much site space here, with everyrthing else going on...

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© Express Newspapers PLC/ MPL communications / F2009