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February 2015

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Page 21 of 51 20 POST FEBRUARY 2015 he title of the feature fi lm says it all. Strange Magic, based on an idea by George Lucas of Star Wars fame, is an animated, madcap musical/love sto- ry aimed at tween girls, an unexpected combination. The magic is in the telling. This is the second fi lm for which Lucas has told a story through song choices. For his pre-Star Wars fi lm, the award-winning American Graffi ti, song choices were crucial to the storytelling — songs not written for the fi lm, but drawn from the culture. So, too, for Strange Magic's soundtrack, which weaves songs from six decades into a story. The title song, Electric Light Orchestra's Strange Magic, traces back to 1975. Other tunes include those made famous by singers ranging from Elvis Presley to Kelly Clark- son, Beyonce and Lady Gaga, in genres that include heavy metal, reggae, rock 'n' roll, R&B and pop. The Strange Magic story begins with the Fairy Princess Marianne and Prince Charming singing, I Can't Help Falling In Love. But when Marianne learns the prince is not so charming after all, she rejects love and becomes a warrior princess — just in time to help rescue her naïve sister Dawn from the Bog King, who rules the dark forest. Producer Mark Miller describes the fi lm as farcical fairy tale inspired by Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream in which characters and creatures of all shapes and sizes fall in love with the most unlikely candidates. The voice actors for the fi lm sing the soundtrack: Alan Cumming as the Bog King, Evan Rachel Wood is the fairy Mar- ianne, Meredith Anne Bull is Marianne's sister Dawn, Elijah Kelley is an elf, Maya Ru- dolph is Bog's mother Griselda, and Sam Palladio is Roland, the charming prince. "Young girls are prone to infatuation. I wanted to make a movie about the diff er- ence between being infatuated and being truly in love," Lucas says. "In the end, the princesses in this story are brave." To direct Strange Magic, Lucas tapped Oscar-winning sound designer Gary Rydstrom, who had returned to Lucasfi lm's Skywalker Sound after a stint at Pixar. Strange Magic marks Ryd- strom's debut as an animated feature director; however, it is not the fi rst ani- mated feature for his crew at Lucasfi lm's Industrial Light & Magic, who created the Oscar-winning Rango. C'MON MARIANNE All told, the fi lm has six hero characters — Marianne, Dawn, Prince Charming, Bog, Griselda and Sunny. The secondary characters include a Sugar Plum Fairy, an impish fl ying mouse, Bog's sidekicks Stuff and Thang, Marianne and Dawn's father the King, who looks a touch like George Lucas, several goblins, and more elves. Several real-world creatures inhabit the forest, as well — butterfl ies, ladybugs, frogs, one armored squirrel that Prince Charming rides into battle, and more. The Bog King, his mother, and the goblins are on the dark side of the woods. The Bog King is the beast, the vil- lain in the story. The fairies and elves are on the light side. Real-world creatures are on both. "Because everyone knows what a real butterfl y, ladybug and frog look like, we had to incorporate our fantasy charac- ters into the real world," says visual ef- fects supervisor Tony Plett. "We did that BY BARBARA ROBERTSON T ILM ARTISTS CREATE A RICHLY- DETAILED, ANIMATED MUSICAL WITH STRANGE MAGIC FAIRY-TALE ENDINGS ANIMATION Low camera angles were used, helping to reinforce the idea that the characters are very tiny.

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