Cannes 2009: Carrey and co. Present A Christmas Carol

The 3D motion capture piece from Robert Zemeckis makes snow on the Croisette.

Big, fat flakes of white snow suddenly began tumbling down in the roasting afternoon heat of the Cannes Film Festival yesterday. It wasn't global warming. It was just Cannes. Because here, you can do that. The festival is its own Field Of Dreams: if you pay for it, it will come. You want Christmas in May? You got it. You want Jim Carrey throwing snowballs after being brought in on a horse-drawn carriage? You got that too.

Striding up a frosty red carpet between a set of pumping snow-machines, Carrey, Jenny McCarthy, Colin Firth and Robin Wright Penn arrived in style for this scene of meteorological madness to introduce the world's first look at Robert Zemeckis' upcoming 3D 'toon A Christmas Carol.

With all the hype and hush around James Cameron's upcoming stereoscopic sci-fi epic Avatar, it's easy to forget that Zemeckis is the true godfather of the 3D revolution. After the groundbreaking The Polar Express and Beowulf, his adaptation of the Dickens' classic looks set to raise the bar even further.

Cannes 200 - Jeff Vespa/Wireimage.com
Carrey and McCarthy turn Cannes into a snowfield.

"This is the first time we've shown this footage to anyone," explained Zemeckis, as a room of critics and journalists expectantly donned 3D glasses below a giant screen inside the Carlton Hotel. "Disney has given us the resources to take the performance-capture art form to the next level. Jim used every muscle in his body to drives the look of these character and we're going to re-envision this classic novel in a way that I like to think Mr. Dickens envisioned it in his own mind."

He wasn't kidding. The two short scenes of footage that unspooled were, frankly, stunning. Motion-captured with an incredible level of depth and detail, Carrey transforms not only into the wizened, bitter Scrooge but each one of the three ghosts that haunts him. What really stunned were the astonishing facial nuances of the characters -- you can see Scrooge's lower lip curl with subtle malice or a malicious twitch of his eye as he talks to Colin Firth's Fred, also rendered with startling realism. Richer, warmer and more convincing than the milky-blind waxworks that have walked around in previous mo-capped 'toons, A Christmas Carol looks to have broken new ground in breathing human life into animated characters.

"It's not just voiceover work, these are complete performance by all of the actors," explained Carrey. "This technology takes it to another place." Firth even called it a purer form of acting. "Once you put on the manhood-cancelling spandex suit and the thing that looks like a bicycle helmet with cameras on it all pointing at your face, you're never off camera," he explained. Sat next to him, Carrey nodded seriously. "When you start out talking out of your butt, it's a long road to get to this place."

Cannes 200 - Jeff Vespa/Wireimage.com
Snow falls on the Croisette on one of the hottest days of the fest.

From Who Framed Roger Rabbit? to Forrest Gump, Zemeckis has always been a master at shackling new technology to great storytelling. The second thrilling sequence showed how he's used digital 3D to unlock a gorgeously immersive new depth to the screen. In fact, it's not a screen anymore. It's a window. Warping through a wooden door into Scrooges' room, the infamous Marley's Ghost hurls giant chain-wrapped books crashing through the 3D space and on to the floor around a terrified Scrooge. Then his jaw falls off.

Frightening, funny and spectacular, it looks like just a taste of Zemeckis' visual-effects showstopper: an eye-roasting final teaser then showed Scrooge being rocketed into the night sky by the blazing Ghost Of The Christmas Past before plummeting back down through the clouds toward the cobblestones of 19th-century London. A tiny snowflake drifts through the air in front of the audience and rests on Scrooge's looming, beaky nose. Filling the screen in close up, he squints at it distastefully, then irritably blows it off. "Baa... humbug."

Check out our gallery from the Cannes photocall right here!

Comments

martinscorsese25

christopher cantos

bring on the 'Basterds'! just two more days...

RT, please have a review of all of QTs films... kinda like the 'Bonding with Bond' thing... have somebody totally unfamiliar with his films and let that person review them...

call it 'Tracking Tarantino' or 'Counting Quentin' or something catchy...

from Reservoir Dogs up to Basterds! plsss.. do this RT...

QT takes huge gaps when making movies... and when he finally does one, it delivers(Death Proof is debatable)... that's why it is always ANTICIPATED... and considering it is his last film for the decade, i think we owe it to him that we review the films of arguably the most influential director of the last 2 decades

May 19 - 05:23 AM

Brad K.

Brad Kaplan

You can see some footage from A Christmas Carol at http://www.stitchkingdom.com/tag/a-christmas-carol

May 19 - 06:22 AM

Gerant K.

Gerant Kenneth

Christmas Carol sounds great but I've got to agree with martinscorsese25 about the QT reviews. The lead up reviews of movies has totally got me hooked on RT. It's a great way to build anticioation and knowledge of our favourite films. Bring it on, and why not add in those few that he wrote before the numbskulls let him direct!!!

May 19 - 09:56 AM

Chris B.

Chris Bellew

whatever, you quentin tarantino obsessed weirdos. i want to hear about basterds as much as you guys but instead of talking about that stuff why don't you talk about what actually was posted. personally i can't wait until a christmas carol comes out. jim carrey is awesome and robert zemeckis is good at what he does. this can't come out soon enough.

May 19 - 03:03 PM

GreenBastard

Craig Storey

Jim Carey used to be so funny! Ace Ventura and Dumb and Dumber were awesome. Why has he turned so average. Just like Eddie Murphy. They become stars and everyone loves what they do then they change. It sucks!

May 19 - 05:37 PM

Jason C Wilkerson

Jason Wilkerson

Don't even think of comparing Jim Carrey to Eddie Murphy!! Eddie Murphy just works for a paycheck now, Jim Carrey actually tries to challenge himself and do new things. Sure, he's put out some stinkers, but nowhere near the bombs that Eddie Murphy has spent the last decade trotting out.

May 20 - 10:35 AM

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May 19 - 06:53 PM

heiko k.

heiko kowalski

I like it so much better when Zemeckis makes "real" movies with real people. The facial expressions in The Polar Express were undoubtedly pretty awful and made the whole flick nearly unwatchable. What´s the use of this?

May 20 - 01:00 AM

Jason C Wilkerson

Jason Wilkerson

Don't even think of comparing Jim Carrey to Eddie Murphy!! Eddie Murphy just works for a paycheck now, Jim Carrey actually tries to challenge himself and do new things. Sure, he's put out some stinkers, but nowhere near the bombs that Eddie Murphy has spent the last decade trotting out.

May 20 - 10:35 AM

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