StGd Cat in the Hat A4.pdf

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    ABOUT THE FILM                              bossed away every friend she has and        magical world where an uninvited
                                                divides her time between chastising her     visitor turns the ho-hum world of two



    A
            LTHOUGH THEY DON’T                  brother and putting new To Do lists into    bored children into an adventure-filled
            REALIZE IT, today is a very         her junior palm pilot.                      trip through a fantasyland inspired
            special day for Conrad and                                                      by the visionary author Dr Seuss and
    Sally. After all, what’s so special about   All the while their mum tries to keep       brought to life on the big screen by
    being left with a sleepy babysitter         domestic peace and balance a suc-           award-winning filmmakers.
    while your mum goes to work? And            cessful career as a real estate agent
    how special is it if you are not allowed    for her germophobe boss, Mr Hum-            These notes have been developed to
    to do anything that is fun! As Sally and    berfloob (Sean Hayes). But on the           help teachers enhance the viewing
    Conrad sit staring out the window at        Saturday she is to host her company         experiences of children in middle and
    the rain outside, today seems boring,       party, Joan’s preparations have fallen      upper primary school years. Informa-
    not special. No, nothing special            prey to Conrad’s mischief and she has       tion and ideas for learning activities
    happening here … that is until a            laid down the law. Sally and Conrad         provide a range of options from which
    six-foot-tall talking Cat (Mike Myers)      are not to leave the house while she is     teachers can select to suit student
    wearing a red-and-white-striped             at work and are forbidden from mak-         needs and interests. Activities provide
    stovepipe hat, a jaunty red bow             ing a mess or misbehaving in any way.       opportunities to develop learning
    tie and a super-sized fondness for          The kids are left sitting and staring out   outcomes across Key Learning Areas,
    mischief arrives in their house. Now        the window while their babysitter, Mrs      but in particular English, the Arts,
    that’s starting to seem special!            Kwan (Amy Hill), dozes the day away.        Health and Studies of Society.
                                                Until their unexpected guest—the
    Sally (Dakota Fanning) and Conrad           original party animal himself—arrives       BRINGING THE CAT IN THE
    (Spencer Breslin), different as black and   to turn their world upside down by          HAT TO THE SCREEN
    white, have pushed their mum, Joan          showing them that ‘it’s fun to have fun
    Walden (Kelly Preston), to the limit.       … but you have to know how!’                Brian Grazer, the producer, read
    Conrad’s endless rule breaking has                                                      Seuss books as a child and com-
    his mum seriously considering military      USING THE CAT IN THE HAT                    ments, ‘ … because they have such
    school for her son—an idea planted          IN THE CLASSROOM                            universal themes and the illustrations
    by her slimy neighbour and suitor,                                                      ignite such fantasy in your mind …
    Lawrence Quinn (Alec Baldwin). Sally,       The film version of The Cat in the          I was willing to do anything to bring

2
    perfectionistic and well behaved, has       Hat is a crafted and highly-stylized,       them to the screen.’
Mike Myers (the Cat) also has                                                                   Morals and messages in the
nostalgic Seuss memories and recalls,                                                           book

My mother was an actress in England,                                                            Read The Cat in the Hat again and list
and she would read the books to me                                                              the messages you think Dr Seuss in-
and other kids who came by to listen                                                            tended readers to gain from his book.
because she was so good at it. My
earliest memory of Dr Seuss is The                                                              As a class discuss the meaning of the
Cat in the Hat, which I loved—it’s my                                                           following quote from Dr Seuss:
favorite book. I loved the illustrations,
and my mom read it with a Liverpool                                                             A person’s a person no matter how
accent. That may be why it’s my                                                                 small. Children want the same things
favorite book of all time.                      BEFORE VIEWING THE                              we want—to laugh, to be challenged,
                                                FILM                                            to be entertained and delighted.
Myers believes that when Seuss
wrote The Cat in the Hat in 1957, he            Graph                                           Do you agree with its sentiments? Do
was making a point about having                                                                 you think the Seuss books achieve
responsible fun; he thinks the book             Create a class graph to show who has            what Seuss intended according to this
is even more relevant today, with all           already read The Cat in the Hat book.           quote?
the high-tech distractions available            Read the book together as a class,
to children in the twenty-first century.        then discuss what you like or do not            Graffiti wall
Grazer agrees,                                  like about the story.
                                                                                                Create a graffiti wall (from butcher pa-
The Cat comes along and shows                   Memories and maths                              per) where students can list Dr Seuss
bored kids how to have fun without                                                              titles read by themselves, their parents
the usual distractions. He shows that           Read about the memories of the film’s           or grandparents. Encourage them to
the power is within you and you simply          producer and main star in the section           record thoughts, feelings and memo-
must appreciate it. What he does is             above—‘Bringing The Cat in the Hat              ries about the work of this author and
ignite excitement and joy within these          to the screen’. Encourage students              illustrator across the generations.
kids for the things they have taken for         to find out if their parents and
granted.                                        grandparents read The Cat in the Hat.           Character traits
                                                What memories do they have of Dr
Grazer’s respectful handling of Dr              Seuss books? Show students how to               Create and display a large matrix like
Seuss Enterprises’ property during the          use the imprint page to find out when           the one in Chart 1. List the characters
transition of The Grinch from page to           The Cat in the Hat was written (1957).          who appear in the book and write
screen proved him a worthy caretaker            Calculate the number of years people            descriptive words beside each name
of the author’s work. So the decision           have been enjoying this book.                   to describe the personality of each
to entrust him with the movie rights for                                                        character. Leave two blank columns
The Cat in the Hat was a simple one.                                                            into which information can be added
                                                                                                after viewing the film.




 CHARACTER               BOOK                       FILM - BEGINNING                                          FILM - END
 SALLY                                              Well-behaved, orderly, tidy, task oriented, scheduled,
                                                    rule governed, bossy, serious, sensible
 CONRAD                  Not named in book          Rule breaker, fun loving, impulsive, irresponsible
 CAT
 FISH                                               Nervous, uptight, nagging, the voice of reason
 THING 1 AND THING 2                                Gymnastic mischief makers, unintelligible
 MOTHER                  Only seen as legs at       Joan Walden, real estate agent in the film. Well organ-
                         the end of the book        ized, competent mum

 MR HUMBERFLOOB          Not in the book            Joan’s boss. Demanding, germ phobic
 MRS KWAN                Not in the book            Babysitter. Overweight, sleepy
 LAWRENCE QUINN          Not in the book            Neighbour. Phony, two-faced, smooth talker, tries to
                                                    appear sophisticated but is a slob, gold-digger

CHART 1

                                                                                                                                           3
                                                                                                                                  2




    Plot profile                             own story based on the fifty most          and used a magical palette of candy
                                             used words when reading and writing.       colours to bring the Cat, the children,
    Create a plot profile showing high and   (Vary the number of words according        Thing 1 and Thing 2 and the Fish to
    low points of key events in the book     to abilities of individual students e.g.   life.
    then use it to help chart cause and      100, 125, 150, 200)
    effects within the narrative.                                                       Like books, films can use language
                                             Screen language                            to help tell a story but they can also
    Book language                                                                       use the camera to create all sorts of
                                             The filmmakers let their imaginations      meanings. In a film like this nothing
    Dr Seuss was challenged to write a       run wild in the film version of The Cat    seems impossible!
    story using 220 key words. Write your    in the Hat. They began with the book
                                                                                        Using the camera to create
                                                                                        meanings

                                                                                        As a class discuss in detail the
                                                                                        meanings and ideas created
                                                                                        by each of the following shots.
                                                                                        Explore different interpretations,
                                                                                        acknowledging the different
                                                                                        perspectives brought by individual
                                                                                        students.

                                                                                        See photo 2

                                                                                        A long shot can help to set the scene,
                                                                                        showing where the action in the film is
                                                                                        to take place and often when it takes
                                                                                        place. It can also be used to show
                                                                                        when the film’s action has changed to
                                                                           5            another location, as in this shot when


4
                              4




                                                                                                                         3




the action moves outside the house.

See photo 3

Medium shots are usually head and
shoulder shots that provide the viewer
with information about the action
taking place. Often the action will
involve more than one character doing
something or talking.

See photo 5

A close-up shot enables the viewer to
see important details. A close-up shot
                                                                                                               6
can be used to help convey a charac-
ter’s emotion to viewers.

See photo 6                              Book to screen                         Storyboard

A shot like this one can provide a       Imagine you were planning to make      Create a storyboard with four to
character with a sense of power. The     The Cat in the Hat book into a film.   six frames for the idea you have
camera is placed down low and the        What would you add to the story to     described. You need to think carefully
viewer looks up at the character. A      make it long enough and exciting       and select shots to draw that will
shot placed up high looking down at      enough to be a feature length          convey your ideas best. Storyboards
the subject can make it appear small,    film? Write three or four sentences    are quick sketches to help guide
weak or insignificant.                   describing one of your ideas.          filming, they are not works of art.




                                                                                                                             5
                                                             Breslin liked the           sages. Consider the ways in which
                                                             dangerous side of being     each character changed by the end of
                                                             Conrad. He says, ‘The       the film. What had Conrad and Sally
                                                             stair luge was one of       each learned?
                                                             the best days I had.
                                                             They had me riding a        THING 1 AND THING 2
                                                             cookie sheet down the
                                                             stairs in the house, and    The filmmakers cast four eight and
                                                             I was covered with all      nine-year-old actors with dance or
                                                             of this padding that I      gymnastic training as the Things.
                                                             got from the kitchen.       Because of shooting restrictions
                                                8            Man, I would have never     (children’s working hours are closely
                                                             thought to do something     monitored and limited), they employed
                                                             like that—it’s actually a   two pairs of Things and staggered
    AFTER VIEWING THE FILM                     cool idea.’ He is quick to caution and    work schedules to allow filming to
                                               adds, ‘And you should not try it at       take place throughout the day.
    What did you think?                        home!’
                                                                                         Stunt coordinator Jack Gill exploited
    Discuss reactions of class members         Character comparison—book                 the girls’ gymnastic and dance training
    to the film. Share the scenes that         to film                                   and (using stunt rigs) literally had them
    students found most enjoyable, funni-                                                walking on walls during the scene
    est, scariest, rudest!! Discuss how the    Review the matrix of character traits     where the Things are released from
    type of shots helped to create these       created before viewing the film.          their red crate, eventually destroying
    moments. Ask students if they think        Place a tick beside the characters        the house. For the demanding scene
    Theodor S. Geisel (Dr Seuss) would         included in the film. Add any ‘new’       within the sequence, when the pair
    have enjoyed the film. Have them           characters to the list. Compare the       attempt to evade capture by scamp-
    explain why or why not.                    traits of the book characters with the    ering on the ceiling and around the
                                               film characters, both at the beginning    chandelier, the magic of CGI supplied
    Capturing the world of                     of the film and at the end of the         computer-animated stunt doubles.
    Seuss’ Cat in the Hat                      film. Complete the chart by adding
                                               this new information. Read Fanning        Edge FX created the makeup for the
    The film’s director, Bo Welch says,        and Breslin’s ideas (above) about         Things. Johnson kept the makeup thin
                                               the characters they play. Would you       around the eyes and movement areas
    To be able to translate The Cat in the     expect them to say these types of         in the face to allow the girls’ person-
    Hat for the screen—it’s an invitation      things?                                   alities to show. Johnson considers
    into a great world where you can                                                     the success of the faces was due to
    let your imagination run wild and          Conrad and Sally: chalk and               the girls loving the makeup. To add to
    you are not restrained by physics.         cheese                                    their ‘Seussian’ appearance and make
    There’s just a silliness and a joy to it                                             them look less like children he used
    that we worked to capture in every         The screenwriters created each child’s    dentures to stretch their mouths, add-
    aspect, from the acting to the design.     character to represent opposites.         ing to the facial distortion.
    Every aspect has to fit into Seuss’        Sally is orderly and task-oriented. She
    immaculate universe.                       is such a control freak she has driven    The twin mischief-makers, Thing
                                               away all her friends; Conrad will try     1 and Thing 2, warbling their own
    As a class, discuss whether you think      anything so long as it’s fun, even if     indecipherable language literally leap
    Welch captures the world of Dr Seuss       it means crossing boundaries and          from one catastrophic fun-making
    with the film version of The Cat in the    safety rules. He thinks nothing about     adventure to another. The Things end
    Hat. Provide reasons for your opinion.     destroying the kitchen in search of       up making Conrad’s messy attempts
                                               protective gear (a colander helmet,       at fun look like … child’s play.
    DAKOTA AND SPENCER ON SALLY                marshmallow bag and loaf of bread
    AND CONRAD                                 padding) for his latest adventure.        The ‘Things’ one can do to
                                                                                         have fun!
    Dakota Fanning (Sally) describes Sally     Discuss how the use of oppositions
    as ‘a scheduled person who keeps           helps lead viewers to the film’s mes-     Compare Conrad’s attempts at fun
    track of everything. Everything for her
    has to be perfect, every hair in place,
    no spots anywhere. I can understand                                     RIDING THE STAIR LUGE
    her but I certainly don’t want to be
    her.’                                        0                                                                             10
                                                 safe and responsible                                        totally irresponsible


6                                              CHART 2
                                                                                                                                 9



with those of the Things. Create a rat-    complete slob and pig. He’s just           Germophobe and pernickety
ing scale, for example see Chart 2,        pathetic and sad. So it was almost like    fish
                                           playing two parts.
Work in small groups to rate the vari-                                                Another really interesting character
ous adventures and fun-filled activities   The screenwriters depict Quinn as a        added to the film is Mr Humberfloob.
of Conrad and the Things. What do          seemingly successful businessman           Discuss the personality of Mr
you discover about the consequences        and stand-in paternal figure for Joan’s    Humberfloob and his contribution
of having fun?                             children who uses his proximity and        to the story-line through his
                                           wily charms to court his attractive        preoccupation with being germ free.
Conrad, consequences and a                 neighbour. Underneath his smooth           Discuss how this characteristic helps
caring neighbour—not!                      talk and glistening smile (ting!) lies a   to highlight the mess created by the
                                           near-bankrupt, gold-digging slob, out      kids, the feline visitor and Thing 1 and
Conrad’s desire to have fun with-          to snare Joan’s house and income           Thing 2.
out thinking about consequences is         and send her son off to military
constantly pointed out by next-door        school.                                    The actor who plays Mr Humberfloob,
neighbour Lawrence Quinn. The char-                                                   Sean Hayes, also supplies the
acter of Lawrence Quinn has been           Wanted—sophisticated slob!                 external nagging conscience of Sally
added to the film version of The Cat                                                  and Conrad—through the voice of
in the Hat. What do you think was the      Write a list of descriptive words and      their anxious, fussy pet Fish. The
purpose of adding this character to        phrases to compare the character-          nervous Fish with the power of
the film version of the story?             istics of Joan and Quinn. Discuss          speech repeatedly warns the children
                                           how the oppositions between these          of the rules they are breaking, the
ACTING THE PART—BALDWIN AS                 characters also helps to lead viewers      trouble they are causing, and of the
QUINN                                      to the film’s messages.                    dangers that can arise from having
                                                                                      fun. Priding itself as the voice of
Alec Baldwin delighted in playing the      Imagine you were the casting agent         reason, the Fish nags and cajoles,
part of Quinn and comments,                looking for an actor to play this part.    finding myriad ways to say, ‘I told you
                                           Write a description of the character-      so!’
 What’s fun about Quinn is that he is      istics required of the actor. Turn your
not what he pretends ... He presents       description into a ‘Wanted’ poster or a    Explain how Hayes conveys the
himself to be caring, sophisticated,       newspaper advertisement.                   nervous, uptight personality of the
educated and he’s really just a


                                                                                                                                     7
                                                                                                                                10




    Fish. What does the Fish add to               the world as it exists today. Where        Colouring the film’s messages
    the story? How does this character            the Grinch came to life before the
    contribute to the messages of the film?       cameras on a soundstage, the Cat           Why do you think the filmmakers
                                                  would be strutting a lot of his stuff on   selected particular colour palettes
    Plot—cause and effect                         location, in the visually arresting town   for each film? How do the colours
                                                  and suburbs of Anville.                    enhance the story in both of these
    Discuss how sub-plots were used in                                                       films? You might also compare the
    the film version of The Cat in the Hat        Colour comparisons                         colours featured in Willy Wonka and
    to help make it enjoyable as a feature                                                   the Chocolate Factory.
    length film. Create new cause and             Screen the animated scenes from Mary
    effect charts to show the sub-plots           Poppins set in a fairground. Discuss       ABOUT THE LOCATIONS AND SETS
    within the plot, for example, see chart       the similarities between The Cat in the
    3.                                            Hat and Mary Poppins. Consider the         You need a context for a character like
                                                  colours used, the action of characters     a six-foot-tall talking Cat. The subur-
    Use both sets of the cause and effects        and the props used by live action char-    ban neighborhood where the movie
    charts to highlight and discuss the           acters and in the animated sequences.      begins and the kids live needed a
    similarities and differences between                                                     fantasy element—a believability within
    the book and film. Explore the way            In The Cat in the Hat two separate         its own hyper-realistic world, but also
    each version, the book and the film,          colour palettes were created: one for      a uniformity, so the children’s bore-
    tells a story in its own right with its key   the Cat and another for the world he       dom when staring out the window
    messages.                                     drops into. The red, white and black of    would make sense. Before filming
                                                  the Cat and his hat are seen only on       began, Welch guided production de-
    PRODUCTION DESIGN                             him or his props (with some metal and      sign by describing the neighborhood
                                                  natural woods on the Cat’s vehicles).      on a scale of zero to ten, with zero
    For Grazer and his team, the major            The remainder of the film is draped        being absolute reality and ten being
    difference between realizing The              in yellows, greens (the interior of the    absolute fantasy. At the beginning of
    Grinch and The Cat in the Hat for the         houses), lilac (the house exterior)        the movie he was looking for it to be
    screen lay in the setting. While the          and other ice cream/pastel colours,        about four, toward the end he was
    former exists in a fantasy world of its       with the addition of the bold, simple      looking for ten.
    own, The Cat in the Hat is a caution-         colours used for the town.
    ary tale set in a place not too far from                                                 The filmmakers selected a rural valley


8
near Simi Valley, California, where                                                  The S.L.O.W. was piloted blind by a
twenty-four houses were constructed.                                                 driver hidden behind the front seat.
Reinforcing the symmetrical look,                                                    The rear-view mirror was actually a
the houses all had four windows and                                                  camera connected to a monitor be-
were designed with the clean lines                                                   side the driver. Outside the S.L.O.W.
found in children’s drawings. Three                                                  another technician communicated
streets encircling the houses were                                                   with the driver by radio, advising him
paved; fences were constructed for                                                   of objects outside the camera’s field
the backyards; and the surrounding                                                   of vision. The external technician
area was hydro-seeded providing a                                                    also triggered various effects such as
lush, green appearance. The set took                                                 flames and smoke.
                                                                           11
four months to build and once the
houses were painted their distinctive                                                After the Cat and Things wreaked
lilac colour (with blue roofs), was                                                  havoc they use the D.I.R.T. (Dynamic
visible from a freeway some distance       taught architect Roy McMakin.             Industrial Renovating Tractormajig-
away. Observant viewers will notice        Furnishings on the set are reminiscent    ger) to clean the house. Unlike the
that everyone has the same house,          of the 1930s and 1940s, with more of      S.L.O.W., the three-wheeled cleaning
curtains, front yard, trees (with          a 1950s kitchen.                          D.I.R.T.s were powered by motors
‘mullet’ tops) and foliage with only                                                 from electronic wheelchairs and di-
slight variation. Most large trees         ABOUT THE PROPS                           rected via remote control. Fabricated
were eucalyptus trunks with artificial                                               arms were inserted into nine recepta-
Seussian tops, while the shrubs and        Early in pre-production, Welch            cles in each machine with additional
flowers were all real and maintained       sketched something that was part          hands and arms supplied courtesy of
by the busy greens department.             car, part plane and part boat. It         the wizardry of Rhythm & Hues.
                                           eventually became the S.L.O.W., the
Cars driven around the neighbour-          ‘Super Luxurious Omnidirectional          The Phunometer, the fun-measuring
hood are Ford Focuses painted to           Whatchamajigger’. The S.L.O.W.            device used by the Cat, was
match the colour palette. Having the       was custom built from the ground up       comprised of hundreds of moving
same model car was part of the phi-        and was electrically powered by a         parts and was the result of more than
losophy (or the joke) that everything is   dozen 12-volt batteries. The fibreglass   two months of design work. Bellfx
repeated in the movie.                     body had a sprayed aluminum finish,       Design & Fabrication created the
                                           accented by African mahogany              Phunometer’s dial to register varying
The production was shot on location        paneling that made it resemble a          stages of “fun” (e.g. Control Freak,
in Simi Valley before moving to the        Chris-Craft speedboat from the 1940s.     Rule Breaker, Just Right). Fitting the
city of Pomona and its antique district.   The shape of the S.L.O.W. (which          idea that more is indeed more, it has
In the oldest part of Pomona, the fa-      could reach speeds up to 75 kph.)         a telescoping unit and is constructed
cades of two blocks of antique shops       gave it a zeppelin-like appearance.       with gold-plated aluminum. Like much
became the town of Anville, which
adjoins the suburbs where the movie
begins. The facades were fitted with
gigantic symbols of the items sold
within the store (e.g. the ice cream                                      creates mess and mayhem
parlour had an oversized styrofoam
ice cream cone; a hammer and nails
represented the hardware store).                        slides down stairs
                                                                                                    requested not to
The Pomona stores remained open                                                                      make a mess by
during construction, on weekends and                                                                    mother
during non-shooting hours. With the            Conrad wants to
publicity accompanying filming, the               have fun
traders recorded their usual sales (and
some even outperformed) their sales
                                                                                Sally wants               expects
compared with the same time the
                                                                                   to be                 Conrad to
previous year.
                                                                                ‘perfectly                receive
                                               balancing fun and                   good’
The interior of the Walden house                 responsibility                                        consequences
was constructed on Stage 28 of the
Universal Studios lot. Most of the
furniture was supplied by leading                                          Quinn tries to win
furniture designer, artist and self-                                          over Joan


                                           CHART 3
                                                                                                                              9
                                                                                                                       12




     of Seuss, it is over-evolved, clunky,    ments have not been provided using           of sod was laid.
     indiscreet—the opposite of today’s       the metric system used in Australia.     o   One mile of fence was built.
     sleek, high-tech world.                                                           o   7,000,000 gallons of water kept
                                              Google FUN                                   the area green during building
     Bellfx Design also created the                                                        and shooting.
     Kupkake-inator. Like many other          Have some fun converting FUN using       o   12 miles of pencil steel was used
     props, indirect and inefficient in its   Google. For example, to convert the          to help sculpt the Suessian trees
     intended task, it’s a marvel of whimsy   height of the chimneys listed below,         and bushes in Simi and Pomona.
     and like the D.I.R.T., was operated by   type ‘52 feet to metres’ into Google     o   500 gallons of lilac paint was
     remote control.                          search and Google will perform the           used for the houses.
                                              calculation and arrive at 52 feet =
     Many of the props and vehicles           15.8496 meters. Keep an eye on the       Town Centre in Anville
     resemble the designs of Rube             spelling used by Google (metres not      (Pomona, California)
     Goldberg (Pulitzer Prize-winning         meters)!
     cartoonist, sculptor and author whose                                             o   24 storefronts were dressed with
     ‘inventions’ created difficult ways to   Create a class word bank of words            paint and styrofoam icons.
     achieve easy results). According to      you might need such as hectares,         o   60,000 cubic feet of styrofoam
     director Bo Welch, the film is not too   litres, metres, kilometers, kilograms.       was used to create the icons on
     far from that thinker’s philosophy.      http://www.google.com.au/help/               the storefronts.
                                              features.html#calculator                 o   The lollipop was 10 feet in diam-
     SOME FUN (FACTUAL,                                                                    eter.
     USABLE NUMBERS, FUN)                     The Suburbs Around Anville               o   The bride and groom were 14 feet
     ABOUT THE CAT IN THE HAT                 (The Neighbourhood in Simi                   tall.
                                              Valley, California)                      o   The hot dog was 26 feet long.
     The Google web site has a terrific                                                o   600 gallons of paint were required
     function to help you perform all sorts   o   24 houses and 22 garages built.          to redress the storefronts.
     of calculations. The Factual Us-         o   Height: 52’ to top of chimney.
     able Numbers (FUN) below provide         o   Width and depth: 26’ x 26’ (not      S.L.O.W.
     interesting information about the sets       including front and back porches).
     and props from The Cat in the Hat.       o   18 acres around the houses were      o   The S.L.O.W. measures 22 feet
     However those that involve measure-          hydro-seeded and 220,000 sq. ft.         long by eight feet wide.


10
                                                                                                                               13




o   Weight: 3,500 lbs.                  CREATING A TALKING CAT IN A HAT           oppressive days, an additional cooling
o   Built completely from scratch us-                                             device—a vest containing circulating
    ing one great plan.                 Special makeup effects artist Steve       cold water—was also worn by Myers
o   Can drive as fast as 47 mph.        Johnson and his company, Edge FX          … to keep a cool Cat really cool!
o   The wood is African mahogany        helped create this amazing Cat. After
    (okay, no number there, but cool    many prototypes, the final Cat suit       Cool Cat inventions
    anyway).                            was made from angora and human
o   One propane tank in the rear cre-   hair, weighing less than one and a half   Create some other inventions to keep
    ates the flames.                    kilograms. But there’s more to a Cat      the Cat ‘cool’. You may define the
o   One driver sits behind the front    than its skin, and Myers found himself    word ‘cool’ as either the opposite of
    seat and drives by looking at a     wearing padding, a metal plate on         hot or to do with the Cat’s style!
    monitor (that’s hooked up to a      his head (to hold the infamous red-
    camera disguised as the rear-       and-white-striped hat in place via        Several ideas for the Cat’s makeup
    view mirror).                       magnets) and assorted battery packs       were tried before selecting the final
o   The driver is connected by radio    inside the suit to power the remote       design. Johnson remembers,
    to a partner outside the car, who   controlled tail and ears.
    controls flames, smoke and gears                                              In filmmaking, everything is an
    via remote control.                 ‘I had more stuff in different parts of   extremely collaborative process.
                                        my body than I care to talk about pub-    Designs get changed until the right
Cat Suit and Makeup                     licly,’ he jokes. ‘My ears were remote    one is found. We first tried some very
                                        control, my tail was remote control—I     realistic approaches to the Cat’s face,
o   Three Cat suits were made out of    don’t know how they did it. I really      including electrostatically flocking the
    angora/human hair.                  felt that NASA was probably involved      face, attaching short hairs all over it—it
o   Each weighed three pounds.          somehow.’                                 was very soft and very cat-like. But
o   Tail and ear movements courtesy                                               Bo ultimately wanted something very
    of one battery pack (in the suit    As some filming took place in exterior    graphic, the body slightly characterized
    over Myers’ stomach).               location shots (where the tempera-        and black and white lines on the face.
o   It took Myers two-and-a-half        ture was often more than 30 degrees       In the end, we found a design that
    hours to get made up, 10 minutes    Celsius), the suit was designed with      worked and really fit with the overall
    to get into the Cat suit, and 15    a port for a hose from a portable         Seuss-inspired designs. I mean, the
    minutes to remove the makeup.       air-conditioning unit. On particularly    best thing about the Cat’s face is that


                                                                                                                                    11
                                                                                                                              14




     it’s Mike Myers, who really is a man       Do you like my hat?                      hat parade and invite another class to
     of a thousand faces. Our designs                                                    vote for the most creative hat.
     got smaller and thinner, something         The object so central to the Cat—his
     that best suited Mike’s face when he       hat, the source of his amazing reper-    SOMETHING FISHY
     performed. Now the Cat’s become            toire of tricks and astounding feats—
     another one of his great characters, a     also needed plenty of pre-production     Apart from the Cat, Sally, Conrad and
     blending of performer and look, not just   time as the filmmakers worked to         their mum (or rather, her legs), Seuss
     a rubber mask applied to an actor.         create not only the Cat’s basic, all-    created only three more characters
                                                purpose, everyday hat, but the myriad    within the pages of The Cat in the Hat:
     The appliance that covered Myers’          of other hats. While the basic hat was   one nervous, talking Fish and Thing
     nose was made of foam latex and            the primary creation of costume de-      1 and Thing 2. Casting for the Things
     was glued to his face, as were blender     signer Rita Ryack, the specialty hats    created some challenges (more below),
     pieces (incorporating the hair used on     that transformed into more than a hat,   but for a talking Fish the filmmakers
     the Cat suit) to help meld the makeup      including a CD player hat, a periscope   needed animation and visual effects.
     into the suit and blend the Cat’s face     hat, a hat that held tennis balls and
     in with his body.                          a microphone hat, all fell under the     Rhythm & Hues (an animation and
                                                domain of the prop makers. To keep       visual effects company) created the
     Filmmakers and crew were able to           the hat on the costume, powerful         Fish. This unique character has no
     transform Seuss’ illustrations into the    magnets were sewn into the hat that      shoulders, no hips and doesn’t walk,
     filmic Cat, using a three-dimensional      attached themselves to the metal skull   so the performance had to come
     suit and makeup, with one exception.       plate under Myers’ costume.              from the eyes, head and fin. Rhythm
     Johnson observes, ‘One thing that                                                   & Hues also assisted in creating the
     was impossible to achieve was the          Design some more way out multi-          Cat’s astounding juggling scene and
     long neck on a human as Seuss drew         purpose, wacky but useful hats           the vortex that emerges from the
     the Cat. But all of us were very happy     for The Cat in the Hat. Incorporate      Things’ red crate.
     with the final look. It recalls the book   magnets into your hats that have
     character and allows Mike to also          some purpose other than holding it on    CATTY CHARACTERS
     shine through.’                            the Cat’s head. Choose one of your
                                                designs and construct the hat. Hold a    And then, there’s the character at


12
                                                                                                                                  15




the centre of it all—Seuss’ original       of these characters and the use of           The short answer is it was fun to wear
creation, part furry Mary Poppins, part    colours are great devices to help Sally      different costumes.
Willy Wonka, one hundred per cent          and Conrad (and the viewers) tune in
Seuss … the Cat in the Hat. At first       to the messages of the story on their        What thresholds did the two little he-
enchanted and entranced by the Cat,        paths to understanding themselves,           roes (Sally and Conrad) cross? What
Conrad and Sally are drawn in by his       each other and some lessons about            did they learn in this process?
exuberance—their day, all of a sud-        fun!
den, doesn’t look so boring (even the                                                   MESSAGES AND THEMES
rain stops and the sun begins shining).    That’s impossible!
But things (and Things) soon get out                                                    The message behind planned
of control, the house is wrecked, Nev-     Discuss the messages students can            chaos
ins the dog runs off and Quinn begins      recall during scenes involving extra ‘Cat’
sniffing (and sneezing) around, certain    characters including ‘Carmen Miranda’,       ‘The genius of Seuss,’ comments
that this time, he will catch Conrad out   a bull fighter, a civil protestor, a crazy   Welch, ‘was that his stories al-
and will finally win Joan over.            infomercial chef and his ridiculous          ways had a message but they were
                                           sidekick (the one in the awful jumper        wrapped in magic and comedy, which
Surely there’s a lesson to be learned      who asks all the obvious questions).         gave them an ‘anything goes’ qual-
somewhere in all this …                                                                 ity—enough of a balance where a
                                           Asked why the Cat becomes these              talking cat seems natural.’
One of Myers’ talents is his ability to    different characters, Myers responds,
play a myriad of characters. In the film                                                The mayhem and chaos of The Cat
the screenplay calls upon him to not        In traditional mythology, a catalyst        In The Hat is chaos with intent, since
only play the central character, but       character that comes along to wreak          the lesson Conrad and Sally learn is
to play various character spin-offs.       havoc on the hero—or, in this case,          one their mother has been reiterating
While the design of the Cat focuses        two little heroes—will often change          until she is (practically and proverbi-
on signature colours of black, red and     his shape in order to confuse or             ally) blue in the face.
white, Myers’ other characters draw        disorient the hero into crossing the
upon colours across the spectrum to        threshold from the known world into          So, while the Cat causes a great deal
highlight their action. The combination    the unknown. That is the long answer.        of chaos, ultimately, you realize that


                                                                                                                                       13
     he created chaos with a purpose—to         being a responsible family member?           Interview someone who was growing
     restore this family.                                                                    up in the 1950s, when The Cat in the
                                                Fun today                                    Hat was written, to find out what sort
     Discuss the lesson the children’s                                                       of fun kids had in this era. Take turns
     mother wants them to learn. How do         Work in small groups to list all the         to share what you have discovered
     the actions of the Cat help the chil-      things you can do to have responsible        with the class. Make a list of games,
     dren to make some discoveries about        fun in                                       toys and activities played in the 1950s.
     it being OK to have fun—but you have
     to know how.                               a) your house                                Organize a Playtime in the Past Day
                                                b) your garden                               at school and invite grandparents
     Family roles and                           c) a playground                              and other older community members
     responsibilities                                                                        along to teach you to play games from
                                                Share your lists as a class.                 their childhood such as Jacks and
     In the book, the mother is no more                                                      skipping games.
     than a leg as she enters the door at       Imagine there is a power failure,
     the end of the kids’ adventure. Often,     review the lists and blu-tac a strip of      ABOUT THE BOOK AND
     the ‘mum’ of a movie’s central child       paper over all the things on your lists      THE AUTHOR
     blends into the background—but             that require electricity. Display lists in
     when The Cat in the Hat became a           the classroom.                               First published in 1957, The Cat in
     movie, the mum became Joan Wal-                                                         the Hat is one of the most well-loved
     den, caring single parent trying hard      Fun in the past                              children’s books ever written and
     to raise her family well.                                                               remains in the top ten best-selling
                                                Choose three things from the lists           hardcover children’s books. In an
     Compare the mum in the book and            displayed in the classroom that do           unusual co-venture for the time,
     the film. In what ways are they similar    not require electricity that would be        publishing houses Houghton Mifflin
     and different? What are the character-     the most fun for you. Paint a picture        and Random House commissioned
     istics of each of these mums? What         showing you doing one or two of              Theodor S. Geisel (Dr Seuss) to
     roles do they have in their families and   those things and write a sentence to         create a ‘reader’ for children using
     how do they manage their responsi-         accompany your painting explaining           a vocabulary of 220 basic words;
     bilities? What messages does this film     why it would be fun.                         Houghton Mifflin intended the book for

14
     give about mothers and also about                                                       classroom use, while Random House
was interested in the home market.
Although schools were reluctant to
adopt the book, The Cat in the Hat
took off with families and Geisel
became firmly established as a key
children’s book author and illustrator.

Born Theodor Seuss Geisel in 1904,
Geisel signed his early drawings ‘Dr
Theophrastus Seuss’ to give them a
scientific air. Later, this became Dr
Seuss (his mother’s maiden name)
with his first book, And To Think I Saw
It on Mulberry Street, in 1937.

His forty-four clever books includ-
ing Green Eggs and Ham, Horton
Hatches the Egg and How the Grinch
Stole Christmas! capture the spirit of
modern living, mirroring our strengths,
weakness, desires and fears while
subtly providing important and enter-
taining morals for children and adults.

Dr Seuss was granted doctorates in
literature and fine arts by seven uni-
versities and was awarded the Pulitzer
Prize in 1984. Although he died in
1991, he continues to be the world’s
best-selling children’s author, having
sold over 250 million books.
                                          15
     For parents                                     games and all types of electronic
                                                     media the kids of today, just like we
     Today’s children live in a dynamic,             did, still complain they are bored! The
     highly interactive world of multimedia.         film through its madcap mayhem and
     Most days they are exposed to vast              somewhat risque humour uses the
     quantities of information and ideas             main image of Geisel (Dr Seuss)—the
     with messages and value systems that            Cat balancing on a ball, with a rake
     frequently challenge those of their fam-        and a cake, the Fish, an umbrella
     ily. It is not surprising that, like previous   and all the rest of that stuff—to
     generations, children turn to popular           present what Myers sees as the main
     culture to help them make sense of              message—the importance of getting
     their place in school and the wider             everything in balance.
     world. For this reason it is important
     that, to some extent, we too engage             This study guide was written for
     with the literature, the films, the games       ATOM by Christine Evely, Education
     and the music of their world.                   Programmer, ACMI. For more
                                                     information about ATOM study
     Our engagement may involve shared               guides, The Speakers’ Bureau or
     activities or simple conversations with         ScreenHub (the daily online film and
     our children. Such interactions can             television newsletter) visit our web
     help us to guide the thoughts and               site: www.metromagazine.com.au or
     decisions made by our children and              email: damned@netspace.net.au
     the values that will remain with them
     throughout their lives.

     The Cat in the Hat is an irreverent
     romp through the lounge rooms of
     today, where, despite CD and DVD
     players, computers, cable TV, video


16

				
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