A Close Shave is a 1995 animated short film directed by Nick Park featuring his characters Wallace and Gromit. It was his third short featuring the eccentric inventor Wallace and his quiet but smart dog Gromit.
This film was aired in the UK on Christmas Eve, 1995.
A Close Shave won the 1996 Academy Award for an Animated Short Film.
At night, a small sheep (bleating with his head in a circle, in the parody of MGM's logo) escapes from a lorry (stopping at the traffic lights) before entering (62 West Wallaby Street) the house of Wallace and Gromit, who are running a window-cleaning business through the dog-flap and then Gromit had ran out of wool whilst knitting a rainbow garment. The next morning, they fail to notice the sheep chewing on their furniture, including the wiring of their porridge gun (which causes it to malfunction and cover poor Wallace with porridge), before leaving for work, Gromit's dry bone and the wiring of the Knit-O-Matic (which made the machine malfunction and switch to light shave) after coming home. They get a call from Wendolene, whose windows need to be cleaned. While there, Wallace falls in love with Wendolene, while Preston, Wendolene's sinister dog, grows jealous of Gromit.
When they get home, they find the sheep, who had wrecked their house and is now covered in filth nibbling Gromit's dry bone and got stuck to the black treacle. To clean him up, Wallace puts the sheep into one of his inventions: the Knit-O-Matic. Gromit programs it to give a "Wash". The machine malfunctions and resets to "Light Shave" and gives the sheep a shear. Wallace names him "Shaun" (a pun on the word "shorn"). Meanwhile, Preston spies on the scene and steals the blueprints for Wallace's machine.
Later, while Wallace is talking with Wendolene, Preston's jealousy for Gromit grows and he finally frames him for butchering sheep. Soon, he has Gromit sentenced to life in prison. Wallace, Shaun, and the other sheep save Gromit from prison before hiding out in a field. When Wendolene and Preston arrive to round up the sheep, Wendolene turns against Preston after seeing him growling at Shaun. She requests that Preston stop with the sheep thefts. Instead, he locks her and Shaun up with the intention of turning her, Shaun (and the other sheep) into dog meat. The two give chase on their motorbike, hoping to save Wendolene and clear Gromit's name.
However, just as it seems they have lost Preston (who was hiding in the lorry in an abandoned barn), he chases after them with the lorry trying to run them off the road. But Gromit (using the ladder) climbs to the top, grabs some telephone wires, and flips himself, along with Wallace, upside down in mid-air, causing them to land safety behind Preston's lorry.
During the chase, the sidecar Gromit rides in detaches and nosedives off the edge of a 2,000 foot cliff. Gromit saves himself by activating the sidecar's ability to transform into an aeroplane, and flies after Preston's lorry with Wallace in tow. Their attempts to stop Preston (Wallace loading the sheep onto the motorbike and Gromit using the porridge gun) fail when Wallace gets trapped in the lorry as well. The captives are taken into Preston's factory, where they discover that Preston has built a giant replica of the Knit-O-Matic using the blueprints he stole from Wallace's basement. The captives are loaded onto the wash basin, with Shaun escaping, as Preston pulls out the nozzle to suck them into the machine.
As Wallace and Wendolene fight against the suction, Shaun reveals the factory's location to Gromit using neon advertisements. Gromit flies in and attacks Preston with the porridge gun. The distraction allows Shaun to suck Preston into the machine using the nozzle, which Gromit programs to give a "Close Shave". During the shearing, Wendolene reveals that Preston is actually a robotic dog who was built by her father, Mr. Ramsbottom, to serve the family. He breaks out of the machine as his fake fur and skin are ripped off, revealing his robotic form. The machine plops a sweater made of his fake fur onto him. He blunders around a bit and raises the platform everyone is on up to level with the conveyor belt of his "Mutton-O-Matic" mincing machine. Gromit swings over them on a rope, knocking Preston and himself onto the conveyor belt. Preston rips apart his sweater at this point and they both start running. Wallace tries to turn off the belt, but he increases it speed. Then Wendolene begs him to do something and he accidentally loads everyone on. As they all fight against the belt, Shaun swings over them on an anvil and knocks Preston into the machine, destroying him in the process. Soon, Preston's remains are turned into his own brand of dog food.
At the end of the film, Wendolene, while visting Wallace, reveals that Preston was rebuilt with completely normal dog behaviour and a remote control. Wallace originally offers to let Wendolene into his home for his cheese, to which he discovers with much dismay that Wendolene cannot stand cheese since it causes her to break out in a rash. When he's very confused about Wendolene's allergic to cheese, Wallace happily decides to console himself with some cheese, only to find Shaun eating it. Gromit, who had been lifted of all charges of the sheep thefts, ignores both.
Characters & Voice cast
- Peter Sallis as Wallace
- Anne Reid as Wendolene
- The Flock
- Feathers McGraw (mentioned only)
- The film is produced in 4:3, but it is matted to a 16:9 widescreen for unknown reasons. However, the original 4:3 version remains on VHS and DVD in the UK, US and other international countries.
- The start of the film with the small sheep named Shaun bleating with his head in a circle through the gap hole of the truck, in parody of MGM's logo when the truck stopped at the traffic lights before escaping for entry to 62 West Wallaby Street.
- When Gromit's knitting ran out the woolly garment throughout the film was rainbow colour using different colours of wool.
- When Wallace receives a call for window-cleaning service, his method of getting to his motorbike and out onto the road is very similar from the 60's show Thunderbirds. The same method used by Virgil Tracy to enter Thunderbird 2 and take off.
- This film reveals that Wallace & Gromit's telephone number is 2143.
- Nick Park met Anne Reid after the film was finished.
- The first Wallace and Gromit film where Wallace's voice isn't the only human voice.
- Preston, the evil villain dog, is the name of the town where Nick Park was born.
- There is a large billboard with a painting of Baker Bob and the slogan, "Buy Bob's Buns". Wallace probably took over the business, before the 12 bakers were murdered by Piella Bakewell. The billboard was later put on auction by Country Studio Framing in 2017
- The film takes course over four days, from the morning Tuesday the 14th on a unknown month (Wallace commenting that he eats porridge on Tuesdays) to the morning of Saturday the 18th (the calendar in Gromit's jail cell saying Friday the 17th on the night of the Knit-o-Matic incident).
- It may also have been over the course of several months, as court cases take a while, as Wallace is seen with a deshelved look and a beard starting to form, indicating some time has passed between Gromit being framed, and busting him out.
- Shaun's ability to hide, escaping detection even from Gromit, later helps him in Shaun the Sheep.
- It is unknown if the Shaun featured in A Close Shave is the same Shaun as seen in his own series.
- The lorry that Preston drives is based on a Guy Motors Otter and Wallace’s motorcycle is a Triumph Tiger Cub with a sidecar.
- The Learn English with Wallace and Gromit version cuts out the scene where Shaun is shaved by the Knit-O-Matic.
- The title is taken from the British expression 'a close shave', which means that a person has very narrowly avoided a potentially disastrous situation.
- The Majority of Props from this short were lost in the Aardman storage warehouse fire in 2005, very few survive to this day
- One of Shaun's models from this short was sold by Heritage Auctions in 2018 later ending up being owned and preserved by YourProps user Hollywood history, another Shaun model (that being the one when he emerges from the "Knit-O-Matic" is in possession of Aardman and displayed on there website
- One of Wallace's Hands from this short is currently up for sale on Ebay
- An Wendolene armature, complete with an original head (although it's missing eyes) alongside a Preston's Dog Food can and a sheep model (Which seems to be from when either the sheep, Wallace and Wendolene are thrown into the machine or when the sheep are all unorganized on the motorcycle) were auctioned off by East Bristol Auctions
- A Resin Wallace and Gromit in the sidecar used for promo's and marketing during "A Close Shave's" release and other Aardman exhibits around that time is currently on display at the National Science and Media Museum Bradford
- The set from when Gromit was in prison was an display briefly at The Wallace and Gromit and friends exhibition alongside various props from "The Curse of the Were Rabbit" And "Cracking Contraptions"
- Before A Matter of Loaf and Death, this may have been the darkest of the Wallace and Gromit movies, as it deals with:
- Death (the countless sheep that have gone missing/presumed dead).
- Gromit being falsely arrested for the crime.
- Preson falling into the Knit-O-Matic and was believed to be killed at first.
- Preston's robotic dog form trying to kill the others.
- Wendolene almost being killed and turned into dog meat along with the sheep and Shaun.
Goofs / Errors
- The picture on top shows Gromit missing his tail and toes on his back legs.
- When Shaun is being washed in the basement, the Knit-O-Matic malfunctions and switches the setting from "Wash" to "Light Shave". After Wallace tells Gromit to do something, you can tell by the lights on the settings that the Knit-O-Matic is still programmed to "Wash". When we see Preston's point of view from where he is hiding a few seconds later, the Knit-O-Matic is once again programmed to "Light Shave".
- Wallace loses his green vest from beneath his overalls when he lands on his motorbike.
- When Gromit climbs up the ladder during the motorbike chase, he places the base in the sidecar. When he grabs the cables, Wallace grabs the base of the ladder as it rises; after they finish the spin, Wallace places the foot of the ladder in front of him.
- For the split second you see the reverse side of the first door Gromit flies through, the circle to be cut out by his propeller is clearly visible.
- After Wallace gives Wendolene balls of wool, the balls change positions between shots.
- The porridge gun shoots at Wallace, and some of it lands on the wall. In the next shot, the porridge is gone.
- While Gromit is flying his plane in the air above Preston's factory, the propeller is briefly stopped.
- During the scene where he imprisons Gromit in the lorry and four times during the car chase, Preston is shown making evil smiles as the lorry closes on the motorbike or when he gets the advantage in the chase. How can he make smiles if he has no muscles underneath his fake skin to operate it with? It could be that he was built with robot levers underneath the skin to operate it with, but these are not seen when his fake skin is torn off and his robot form is revealed.
- Preston's fake teeth are shown to be white like real teeth when he growls at Shaun. However, when his robot form is revealed, they become silver along with the rest of his body.
- When Gromit falls in and saves Shaun from Preston, the anvil was able to pull both of them up, showing that the anvil weighs more than Gromit and Shaun combined. Later, Shaun swings in over the conveyor belt with the anvil and knocks Preston into the mincers. In order for Shaun to move as fast as Gromit (without the anvil) did, there has to be a great deal of force involved, and hitting Preston probably wasn't enough to stop Shaun's momentum, so Shaun should also fallen into the machine. The makers may have prevented Shaun from falling into the machine as he is a protagonist.
- Wendolene: Your dog's waiting.
- Wallace: Aye, I'd better see to him. The bounce has gone from his bungee.
- Wallace: Won't you come in? We were just about to have some cheese.
- Wendolene: Oh no, not cheese. Sorry, it brings me out a rash. Can't stand the stuff.
- Wallace: (gulp) Not even Wensleydale?
- Wallace: What's wrong with Wensleydale? Talking of which, all the more for us... and not a sheep to worry us!
(Lifts the cover tray to discover Shaun eating the cheese)
- Wallace: Get off me cheese! Get off!!! Get o... Gromit? Gromit! Go for 'im! Oh!
(Shaun swallows and bleats, before the screen switches to credits)
(to Gromit after he escapes from the jail with the help of Wallace and the sheep)
- Wallace: I suppose you'll have to skip the country now. A fugitive, eh? You'll be hunted down... Like.. well, a dog.
- Wendolene: I'm sorry about this.
- Wallace: For what?
- Wendolene: Nothing. Just stay away from me, from my shop, and my silly, silly windows.
- Wendolene: He's malfunctioning.
- Wallace: Mal-what?
- Wendolene: Malfunctioning. Preston is a cyber-dog.
- Wallace: Cyber-wha?
- Wendolene: A robot! (Preston's robot arm punches through the machine and opens a door) Daddy created him for good but, he's turned out evil.
- Wallace: Have you been peckish during the night? Only someone’s been at me cheese.
- Wallace: Is this place yours?
- Wendolene: Mm-hmm. My father left it to me. Along with his debts, and a few other things.
- Wendolene: Oh, I want no more of this rustling. It wasn't so bad when it was just the wool, but... this is evil! Daddy didn't create you for this. You're supposed to protect me!
(Preston locks her away with Shaun on the back of the truck)
- Wendolene: Let me out! You're not going to turn me into dog meat!
(the sheep climbed on top of Wallace in order to help Gromit escape from prison)
- Wallace: (as they pull Gromit to safety) Oh, brillant teamwork, lads!
- Wallace: (he slips on a bar of soap lying on the pavement and all the sheep come crashing down, bleating) Oh!
- Wallace: (seeing Preston operate a replica of Wallace's Wash-O-Matic) Where'd you get that from? That's MY machine! I've got patent pending on that!
- Director: Nick Park
- Producers: David H. DePatie, Tom Ruegger
- Executive Producers: Peter Lord, David Sproxton
- Executive Producer for BBC: David H. DePatie
- Written by: David H. DePatie, Nick Park
- Music: Julian Nott
- Voices: Peter Sallis, Anne Reid
- Film Editor: Helen Garrard
- Key Character Animator: Steve Box
- Character Animators: Loyd Price, Peter Peake, Gary Cureton, Nick Park
- Assistant Animators: Sergio Delfino, Ian Whitlock