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Stop-Motion Animation: Mary and Max

Stop-motion animation is a technique used in order to make characters appear to move on their own. The characters are moved in very small increments and are photographed. Each frame is then put together to create a moving picture. Let's take a look at Mary and Max, a stop-motion animation film that was screened at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009.

image via Row Three

Mary and Max is the brainchild of writer/director Adam Elliot. After winning an Oscar for his short film Harvie Krumpet, he began to dabble in creating a stop-motion animation feature film. Mary and Max is the result. What makes this film different from other animated films is the balance in the story.

Mary and Max is the story of friendship between pen-pals — Mary, a girl from Melbourne; and Max, a middle-aged man from New York. The story is inspired by the relationship that Adam Elliot had with a pen-pal, which lasted for more than two decades. Writing the script for the movie was no walk in the park. Adam Elliot spent a year writing and revising the drafts of the script, basing it from the letters he got from his pen-pal.

image via Karla Kracht
image via Karla Kracht

Another aspect of stop-motion animation that they had to put a lot of effort on was creating the puppets. Each puppet was designed to be able to move according to their characteristics. For the movie, they used over a hundred separate sets, 212 puppets and over 400 props, including a functioning Underwood typewriter that Max used to write letters to Mary.

Film Facts:

  • Mary and Max is the second stop-motion animated feature film made in Australia.
  • On average, the crew was able to produce two and a half minutes of footage per week.
  • The overall feel of the movie was inspired by photographer Diane Arbus’ black and white portraits.
  • The New York skyline set took twenty people two months to finish.
  • 147 costumes were designed by two costume designers for the characters.

It took 5 years to finish Mary and Max. After the long haul, the film was chosen to be screened at the opening night of the Sundance Film Festival in 2009.

Here’s a look at the film’s trailer:

Mary and Max Trailer from Editorial Pinch on Vimeo.

Cinema Sights
Mary and Max Official Website
Animation World Network
IMDB: Mary and Max
Cut. Print. Review.

If you have videos with similar feel (stop motion animations, Super 8 clips & films, and other videos with analogue vibe), you may share them to the community. Head on to this month’s Requested Posts, take a look at our Guidelines for Submissions, and get Piggy Points while you’re at it!

written by jeanmendoza


  1. kylewis


    I love Mary and Max but goodness does it pull the heart strings, have your box of tissues ready everyone.

    about 3 years ago · report as spam
  2. basterda


    Mary and Max! Oh, my heart! </3

    about 3 years ago · report as spam
  3. marissa


    This is my favourite movie.. So magical <3

    about 3 years ago · report as spam
  4. lomonesia


    i haved look this movie last year

    about 3 years ago · report as spam

Read this article in another language

This is the original article written in: English. It is also available in: 日本語 & Deutsch.