The Iron Giant 2 Tragic Inspiration Gives the Beloved Film a New Meaning
The Iron Giant 2 by Brad Bird is a well-known classic in part because of its message against violence, which was inspired by a real-life tragedy
In 1999, Brad Bird’s The Iron Giant came out during a hectic summer. Even though it got great reviews and people thought it was something special, it opened simultaneously with M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense, which was a surprise hit, so it didn’t do well at the box office. Bird went on to direct several classics at Pixar, such as Ratatouille and the two Incredibles movies. As new fans found The Iron Giant on DVD and cable, its reputation grew along with Bird.
But until recently, no one knew that Bird was very moved by The Iron Giant’s story and its message of nonviolence and understanding. He had a family tragedy that inspired the movie’s themes. This makes the movie and its kind hero even more moving.
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What Is The Story of The Iron Giant?
The title of The Iron Giant refers to a huge robot from outer space that was built by unknown forces as a weapon to kill everyone.
Soon after Sputnik was launched, it broke and fell to Earth. A lonely boy named Hogarth Hughes found it in the Maine woods. The Giant has lost its memory and falls in love with the boy quickly. When the government decides that the Giant is a threat, it sets up a fight.
When the Giant thinks that Hogarth has been killed, its programming goes into effect. But Hogarth’s recovery and the Giant’s love for him make it possible for the robot to go against its basic purpose and sacrifice itself by stopping an ICBM before it hits Hogarth’s town.
Michael Kamen's score for 'THE IRON GIANT' is coming from Varèse Sarabande Records as a new 2-LP set on Aug 5 and features 13 minutes of alternate music cues. https://t.co/R7HSeaFqZO pic.twitter.com/IEz47fOZXE
— Adam Hlaváč 🎃 (@adamhlavac) May 26, 2022
The movie was praised right away for its clever plot and strong characters, especially the relationship between Hogarth and the Giant. But the movie stood out because of its main idea, which was that people could grow past their limits.
It made its plea for nonviolence a natural part of the story, not a preachy message. Even though the setting was very specific, it was told in a way that could apply to any conflict. They were the kinds of storytelling skills that Bird later used at Pixar, and the fact that it was made by Warner Bros. meant that it could deal with darker ideas than Disney movies. The Iron Giant has a lot going for it, but it’s also a great example of traditional 2-D animation, which was becoming less common as CG animation got better.
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How did the Iron Giant get its Ideas?
During the press for The Incredibles 2, which came out in 2018, Bird talked to VT about what led to the making of the movie.
His sister Susan’s husband shot and killed her, leaving his family in a terrible state. At the same time, he was writing The Iron Giant and pitched it to Warner Bros. as the story of a gun that learns to care. It was a strong idea, and the fact that it was at the heart of the movie helped it last.
We’re thrilled to announce the 2-LP Deluxe Edition release of The Iron Giant (Deluxe Edition) Original Motion Picture Score by Michael Kamen, which greatly expands on the previously available single LP.
— Varèse Sarabande Records (@VareseSarabande) May 25, 2022
This is most clear in the dialogue, where Hogarth begs the Giant to choose to be better, and where the danger comes just as much from someone who won’t admit when they’re wrong as from someone who attacks with bad intentions. It fits with the truth of Bird’s loss, and the bittersweet ending of the movie, which promised a sequel that never came, is all the more touching because of it.
The Iron Giant might be Bird’s wish for a happier ending to an unimaginable loss. It’s a story about a weapon that decides it’s had enough.
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