One of the big problems with most films about traumatic and lethal disasters is that they just don’t have a cuddle factor. They’re often bummers, and have a dearth of cute animals. I mean, do you think Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center is going to have any bunnies or other furry woodland creatures in it, besides the one they killed and stapled to Nic Cage’s head?
John Dykstra, the longtime visual effects guy who got his start with Star Wars, is doing his best to rectify that with Tortoise and Hippo. Dykstra will be making his directorial debut on this film based on a true photo that was taken in the aftermath of 2004’s massive Indian Ocean tsunami, which showed a baby hippo and a 100-year old tortoise comforting each other after being rescued from the sea.
"The actual event that inspired the movie captured the imagination of the world," said Alex Schwartz, executive VP production at Walden Media, one of the producers of the film. "We’re going to create a movie inspired by it that we hope can tell a story everyone can relate to, which is that you can be different but still belong to the same family."
The film will have computer animated animals in a live action world, and Dykstra will be showing the tsunami: "The tsunami is a critical component in the telling of this story," he said. "It’s a sensitive storytelling issue." A former FX guy directing a massive destruction sequence… who wants to take bets on what will be the best part of this film?
The story will be especially relevant today, in a world torn with strife, as it shows how a tortoise and a hippo – two of the most vicious enemies to ever wage eternal, bloody interspecies battle – come to be best friends.