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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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: email@example.com
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