Interview by Paul Salfen
Directed and written by Jim Capobianco (the Academy Award®-nominated screenwriter of “Ratatouille”) and co-directed by Pierre-Luc Granjon, THE INVENTOR is a stop-motion adventure film about the life of Leonardo da VincI
Featuring the voices of Stephen Fry, Daisy Ridley, Marion Cotillard, Gauthier Battoue, and Matt Berry.
The insatiably curious and headstrong inventor/artist Leonardo da Vinci (Fry) leaves Italy to join the French courtwhere he can freely experiment, invent flying contraptions and incredible machines, and study the human body. Joined in his adventure by the audacious Princess Marguerite (Ridley), Leonardo attempts to uncover the answer to the ultimate question: “What is the meaning of life?”
The Inventor was sparked by the idea that Leonardo da Vinci probably had bad days as well as good. He banged his knee, jumped for joy, whispered softly, wept, got frustrated, and felt anger. He was human after all. I began to see him not as the sage as always depicted, or the other extreme—the scatterbrain who invents crazy contraptions—but as a real person struck with ideas beyond the technical, intellectual, and the societal capabilities of his time.
Although Leonardo was probably the smartest guy in the room, he was likely also the loneliest. It was the Renaissance era. It was a time when it was widely believed metal could be turned into gold, the Earth was considered the center of the universe, and our planet was flat. Few people understood his ideas. It was from these musings that I created the animated short Leonardo in 2009, and years later, I still felt compelled to explore his world more deeply with The Inventor.
The Inventor focuses on legacy, how you choose to live your life and how those choices influence others—a theme with wide appeal and resonance for all audiences, especially kids. Leonardo da Vinci’s ideals, intellect, craftsmanship, and artistry are the very qualities we want to model for our young people. But really, anyone can appreciate Leonardo. He is a true superhero, and he really existed!
The Inventor was created with a combination of stop-motion puppet and hand drawn animation. Why stop-motion and not computer graphics? If any subject matter is right for the handcrafted filmmaking arts, it is a story about Leonardo da Vinci: an artist, craftsman, and inventor who worked with his hands. Stop-motion is the primary medium we used to recreate his warm, hand-hewn world, rather than force the cold precision of a computer to do the same. Leonard’s own story inspired us to take this artisan approach, and my collaborators and I could not resist the charm of building a Renaissance
world in miniature and creating this story around it.
I’ve enjoyed twenty years of experience in animation working on films from The Lion King to Ratatouille, yet The Inventor was the story that inspired me for over a decade. I feel lucky to have created it with filmmakers and artists from all around the world whose talents and skills are unsurpassed in storytelling. Leonard da Vinci embodied an artistic and inquisitive spirit and I believe we have captured that same essence in our film.
DIRECTED BY: Jim Capobianco, Pierre-Luc Granjon
WRITTEN BY: Jim Capobianco
CAST: Stephen Fry, Daisy Ridley, Marion Cotillard, Gauthier Battoue, Matt Berry
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Marijke Van Keta
COMPOSER: Alex Mandel
PRODUCED BY: Robert Rippberger (p.g.a.) and Jim Capobianco
PRODUCERS: Martin Metz, Adrian Politowski
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Don Hahn, Nadia Khamlichi, Nessa McGill, Sierra Garcia, Ilan Urroz, Nicolas Flory, Phil Viardo, J.D. Zacharias, Kyle Stroud, Keanu Mayo, Ryan Clarkson, Eric Vonfeldt, Kat Alioshin, Rob McGillivray, Ben Stranahan, Jeremy Walton, David Lyons, Nathanael Karmitz, Fionnuala Jamison, Oliver Barbier