A Very Rare Bear

As a Peruvian refugee in London, Paddington is a prime example of a “non-human animal as Other.” But what’s more, in Paul King’s Paddington (2014) he is also a believable protagonist—no small feat for an animated bear in a live-action film. In film criticism, animated performances are often primarily attributed to voice actors (in this case Ben Whishaw who replaced Colin Firth late in the process) when, in fact, the acting is based on decisions by writers, character designers, storyboarders and not least animators (Paddington is entirely key-frame animated, no motion-capture)—all in the service of a directorial vision. So in this acting analysis, I am exploring what makes Paddington’s animated performance so convincing to me.

Oswald Iten is a Swiss film scholar, video essayist and 2D animation artist. He writes for Filmbulletin (filmbulletin.ch), Colorful Animation Expressions (colorfulanimationexpressions.blogspot.comand gives audiovisual lectures on classic movies and current releases in a cinema in Zug. Interested in all aspects of filmmaking, he often studies sound, color, editing and hand drawn animation.