David Bowers' Astro Boy Inspired by Star Wars
10.20.09 by BJSprecher
While Astro Boy is hardly a household name in America, he is something of a cultural icon in his native Japan. In fact, a six-foot statue of "Tetsuwan Atom" (Astro Boy) was erected outside Ikeda Elementary School in Osaka's Ikeda City to honor Osamu Tezuka, the man who created the character in the '50s.
Director David Bowers (Flushed Away) was the man tasked by Imagi Animation Studios with updating Astro Boy for modern American audiences. Bowers told AMC that he looked to some classic sci-fi films for inspiration.
I think things like Star Wars and Blade Runner have just been so influential that if you make a science fiction film you can't help but include elements. But I was just after making a very cool science fiction film, so I just threw all of the things I loved into a giant melting pot and tried to make something original from it. Somebody asked me during production, "Who's this movie aimed at?" And I cited Star Wars as an example of a film I loved when I was ten years old — I loved the robots and the space battles. And then when I came back to it as an adult, I loved Luke Skywalker's journey and his relationship with his father. So I hoped this movie too would work on different levels.
Bowers designed the world of Astro Boy to be futuristic, yet familiar, a style he calls "retro-futurist."
I wanted to make sure that the Astro Boy movie felt as fresh and new and original to audiences today as Tezuko's strips were in the 1950s. But of course nowadays they look retro and old-fashioned. So I tried to retain elements of that and the feel of it, but sort of update the style of it.