The Iron Giant (1999)

The Iron Giant
Director: Brad Bird
Writer: Tim McCanlies, Brad Bird, Brent Forrester
Based on: Ted Hughes‘ novel The Iron Man
Cast: Eli Marienthal, Jennifer Aniston, Harry Connick Jr., Vin Diesel, James Gammon, Cloris Leachman, Christopher McDonald, John Mahoney, M. Emmet Walsh
Seen on: 27.1.2021

Hogarth (Eli Marienthal) is a bright, curious child, prone to adopting critters and with a love of everything SciFi. His single mother Annie (Jennifer Aniston) has her hands full with him and with work. One night, Hogarth sees something weird in the forest next to his house and goes to investigate. What he finds is a giant metal robot from outer space in some distress, and Hogarth can’t just walk away – he helps. But a robot of its size is bound to draw attention – and not every attention is good.

I missed The Iron Giant when it came out and it had been on my watchlist ever since (that hasn’t kept me from using the ever useful “ART” gif). I finally made it, and I’m glad I did. It’s a really sweet, fun film with very nice animation.

The film poster showing the Iron Giant, a huge robot, standing in a forest, cradling Hogarth in his hands.

The Iron Giant leans heavily on SciFi of the 50s, not only in its settings, but also in the way it looks and tells its story. There is a certain nostalgia to it, but a nostalgia of the kind that people have who never experienced the time they are nostalgic for. That means that there is a lot of romanticization going on here and one has to leave aside the fact that the 50s were not some kind of great time of innocence.

Despite that, the film is very entertaining and has funny moments that will appeal to kids and other funny moments that will appeal to adults (like the Duck and Cover video we get to see). But it’s also emotional and touching. There is a very soft core here.

The Iron Giant giving Hogarth a ride in his hand.

The film has a message, too, and it isn’t shy about it, spelling it out multiple times to make sure that we all get it and that it isn’t misconstrued. This makes it a little didactic in its approach, and I think I would have preferred it to tread a little more softly there as well (especially since the message isn’t exactly revolutionary). That being said, I think what would be worth considering in a little more detail is the different types of masculinities in the film – there are some interesting things going on here.

Altogether, I very much enjoyed The Iron Giant, especially aesthetically. It looks and sounds really good. I can understand why it jumpstarted Bird’s career.

The Iron Giant sitting next to Hogarth in the forest.

Summarizing: very nice.

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