Thursday, August 18, 2005

Joe Ranft (1960-2005)

Pixar story man dead at 45

Joe Ranft, probably best known for his voice-work as Heimlich, the caterpillar, in A Bug's Life, died yesterday in an automobile accident.

Joe also provided voices for Jacques, the cleaner shrimp in Finding Nemo, and Wheezy, the singing squeak-toy from Toy Story 2.

But Joe's true passion was the story. He received an Oscar nomination for his contribution to the writing of Pixar's first feature-length film, Toy Story. He also received several other awards and nominations for his writing.

I remember watching the special features on the DVD for A Bug's Life where they tell the story of how when Joe recorded the voice track for the character Heimlich, it was meant to be a scratch/temporary track until they could find an actor to re-record the part for the finished film. Well, they never found an actor who could improve on Joe's perfect Bavarian accent for the hungry, hungry, Heimlich, so when you watch A Bug's Life (which I plan to do soon), every time you're laughing at that big fat caterpillar, that's Joe.

UPDATE (09/12/05)
Films Recently Watched (in memory):

A Bug's Life (1998) dir. by John Lasseter and Andrew Stanton. In memory of Joe Ranft, co-writer.
This is a genuinely good film, not just for the kids. The story is top notch, though, admittedly, the basic premise is lifted from Seven Samurai and, more recently, The Three Amigos. The dialogue is witty, the animation is perfect, great voice acting.

Toy Story (1995) dir. by John Lasseter. In memory of Joe Ranft, Head of Story.
This groundbreaking film is celebrating it's 10th Anniversary this year. In so doing, Pixar has released a new DVD edition about which I've been hearing amazing things. Now, you may or may not know my policy about what is commonly referred to as "double dipping" (i.e. purchasing the same film more than once on the same format), but, generally, I'm agin' it. This is no exception, I'm afraid, though rest assured, I am not opposed to receiving gifts that would otherwise be considered double dipping. Anyway, I just watched my standard version of Toy Story, but enjoyed it none the less. Make no mistake; Story is king at Pixar and Joe Ranft was the King of Story. He will be missed.

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