A feature adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s popular musical, or a horror film? The first trailer of Cats has proven to be catnip for Twitter.
Directed by Tom Hooper (The Danish Girl, Les Miserables), the film is the story of a tribe of cats called Jellicles, who are preparing for a grand ball where one Jellicle will be chosen to be reborn. The trailer reveals the cast members as strange cat-human hybrids frolicking among over-large beds, ottomans and footstools.
Among the actors whose faces are merged with visual effects and costuming are Idris Elba, Taylor Swift, Jennifer Hudson, Judi Dench, Taylor Swift, Rebel Wilson, James Corden, Rebel Wilson and Jason Derulo.
“It’s not animated,” Taylor Swift, who plays Bombalurina, told Entertainment Weekly. “And it’s not motion capture. It’s somehow this new way that hasn’t been done before. And they’re giving us a tail that moves naturally, and ears and whiskers.”
The trailer raised some important questions. Why is Judi Dench’s character wearing a coat made of her own fur? Why do the cats have breasts?
Already, some viewers are calling the movie a horror film rather than a musical.
The movie is an adaptation of the long-running musical that was staged on Broadway between 1981 and 2000. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s stage production was based on one of the poems in British poet TS Eliot’s 1939 collection Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.
The cats have curious names, such as Munkustrap, Jennyanydots, Rum Tum Tugger, Grizabella, Bustopher Jones, Mungojerrie, Rumpleteazer, Jellylorum, Skimbleshanks, Mr Mistoffelees and Macavity. Eliot noted in the poem The Naming of Cats:
“The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter; It isn’t just one of your holiday games; You may think at first I’m as mad as a hatter; When I tell you, a cat must have three different names!”
The movie adaptation follows failed attempts at animation. The combination of computer-generated imagery and live action has left some viewers unsettled, as also has the sight of cat-sized actors wandering about in an empty human-sized world.
This is what they call gif heaven.
In a behind the scenes video, the filmmakers and cast members explained the process involved in transforming humans into hybrids. The choreography is by Andy Blankenbuehler, who has the Cats revival and Hamilton to his credit.