The Iron Giant, 23 years after its theatrical release

The Iron Giant, 23 years after its theatrical release

The Iron Giant

On August 6, 1999, Il Gigante di Ferro, one of the most beautiful - and most underrated - animated films in the history of cinema, was released in cinemas, leaving an indelible memory in the generations who have seen it and have grasped its intrinsic strength, the power of its message, or simply the beauty inherent in the friendship between a child and a robot of about fifteen meters. A film that has rightfully become an integral part of today's pop culture, despite the results obtained at the box office: let's retrace its history together.

Il Gigante di Iron in the cinema

An animated film with an almost Disney-like style (although it is not Disney's) that tackles mature themes with strength and without fear, so that it can be enjoyed, almost unexpectedly, so much by a audience as young as an adult and more aware. Of the underlying political history, of the climate of a country and of the underlying feelings in the middle of the Cold War period, of the many nuances that lie between the words "dangerous" and "harmless" (even, "altruistic"). The Iron Giant is proof that, if an animated film is well done, it can survive the test of time.

Released on August 6, 1999, The Iron Giant turns twenty-one today and continues to be one of the most beautiful film productions ever created. Produced by Warner Bros, under the direction of Brad Bird (the same director of The Incredibles, Ratatouille and Mission Impossible: Phantom Protocol), the film is freely inspired by the novel The Iron Man written by the poet Ted Hughes and has actually earned the his fair share of prizes and awards (BAFTA, Satellite Award, Hugo Award and many others), although the box office figures speak for themselves: against a budget spent of about seventy million dollars, the film received only twenty-three million in revenue of dollars.

Accomplices a marketing campaign on which it seems that a sufficient budget has not been invested to guarantee adequate sponsorship and the release to the cinema, on the same day, of The Sixth Sense of Shyamalan, which has inevitably outclassed the animated film. The cast of The Iron Giant, among other things, boasts respectable names in its roster of voice actors, such as Vin Diesel, who is the iron giant, Jennifer Aniston to give voice to Annie Hughes, mother of the protagonist, while Harry Connick Jr. is Dean McCoppin, Hogarth's friend scrap dealer.

The plot

Hogarth Hughes, a nine-year-old boy who lives in the town of Rockwell , on the other hand, he is intrigued by the fisherman's story, although it may seem unlikely; however, he soon discovers the truth about the mysterious object firsthand: when the TV stops broadcasting the horror film that Hogarth was watching, the child discovers that something has destroyed the house antenna, leaving a trail. of destruction right into the woods behind the house. Once he follows the tracks to the city's power plant, Hogarth - dressed up as a soldier in search of the enemy - discovers the cause of it all: a mammoth robot, which attempts to feed on the light poles while remaining trapped in cables despite himself. After an escape in terror, the child overcomes his fears to retrace his steps and help the giant and, after this first, frightening episode, the two will develop a deep friendship, in which there will be other destructive "small accidents" but from which the human and friendly nature of the robot will emerge, which seems to have a soul just like men.

Although the attempts to hide the iron giant are quite fruitful, his escape to the city after a quarrel with Dean allows Mansley, and the US government, to arm themselves to take down the mysterious robot: he, in fact, helps two children in danger, but his selfless gesture is mistaken for an attack and the army takes action to destroy the giant. Traditional weapons are useless - not even cannons and missiles can scratch it - if not to infuriate the robot which thus shows its destructive side. The arrival of Hogarth will be providential to "calm" the giant and make him come to his senses, however the damage has now been done: a nuclear warhead has been launched - by Mansley, taking even the general who commands the army off guard - and is directed right on Rockwell, against the giant. In a final act full of humanity, the robot from space will launch itself in flight to intercept the nuclear device, in an ending that will leave an indelible mark on the public, full of emotion and hope.

A surprising animated film

Twenty-one years later, The Iron Giant still remains a high-level animated product; a sort of E.T. by Steven Spielberg set in the 1950s, which however uses animated images to tell not only the wonderful friendship between a child and a machine - more human than those humans willing to launch a nuclear warhead, in the name of "defending" their own country; but also to show the rhetoric of patriotism against an alleged enemy that, especially in the United States, has generated more conflicts than necessary.

In this film in particular, the constant threat of the "red" enemy is very strong, taking on several forms along the narrative arc: from the metaphorical one of a comic called The Red Menace, to the more realistic one in Hogarth's hypotheses on the mysterious object that came from space, suggesting that it could be a Sputnik. One of the greatest fears of Americans that for many years marked the country and kept the whole world in suspense - that of the Russians, their infiltrated spies and their weapons ready to be launched - is the basis of this tale, which however it shows the other side of the coin: that of the paranoia and terror of an enemy in perpetual ambush, which sometimes lead to a real witch hunt.

The Iron Giant is also part of pop culture: just think of the parody episode in Futurama, entitled The Game of If I were, in which Bender and Fry take the place of the iron giant and Hogarth (although it ends very differently from the film), or Spielberg's Ready Player One, in which the giant makes his appearance among the numerous quotes from the most famous characters of recent decades. But it is also and above all a story of pure and sincere friendship, of understanding (where adults in general seem to be deaf and blind), of empathy and tolerance, as well as of choices and self-determination ("You are who you choose and you try to be “, Dean will say), in a crescendo of emotions that culminate in a tears-in-the-eyes ending, but finally capable of snatching a smile made of hope, for the protagonists of the film and also a little for humanity.

Happy birthday, Giant!

The Blu-Ray of Il Gigante di Ferro: a film that cannot miss in your collection and that you can find at this link.

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