Ivo Caprino

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Ivo Caprino (17 February 1920 – 8 February 2001) was a Norwegian film director and writer, best known for his puppet films. His most famous film is Flåklypa Grand Prix ("Pinchcliffe Grand Prix"), made in 1975.


Early career

In the mid 1940s, Caprino helped his mother design puppets for a puppet theatre, which inspired him to try making a film using his mother's designs. The result of their collaboration was Tim og Tøffe, an 8 minute film released in 1949 . Several films followed in the next couple of years, including two 15 minute shorts that are still shown regularly in Norway today, Veslefrikk med Fela (Little Freddy and his Fiddle), based on a Norwegian folk tale, and Karius og Baktus, a story by Thorbjørn Egner of two little trolls, representing Caries and Bacterium, living in a boy's teeth. Ingeborg Gude made the puppets for these films as well, as she would continue to do up until her death in the mid sixties.

When making Tim og Tøffe, Caprino invented an ingenious method for controlling the puppet's movements in real time. The technique can be described as a primitive, mechanical version of animatronics.

Caprino's films received rave reviews, and he quickly became a celebrity in Norway. In particular, the public were fascinated with the secret technology used to make his films. When he switched to traditional stop motion, Caprino tried to maintain the impression that he was still using some kind of "magic" technology to make the puppets move, even though all his later films were made with traditional stop motion techniques.

In addition to the short films, Caprino produced dozens of advertising films with puppets. In 1959, he directed a live action feature film, Ugler i Mosen, which also contained stop motion sequences. He then embarked on his most ambitious project, a feature film about Peter Christen Asbjørnsen, who travelled around Norway in the 19th century collecting traditional folk tales. The plan was to use live action for the sequences showing Asbjørnsen, and then to realise the folk tales using stop motion. Unfortunately, Caprino was unable to secure funding for the project, so he ended up making the planned folk tale sequences as separate 16 minute puppet films, bookended by live action sequences showing Asbjørnsen.

The Pinchcliffe Grand Prix

In 1970, Caprino and his small team of collaborators, started work on a 25 minutes TV special, which would eventually become The Pinchcliffe Grand Prix. Based on a series of books by Norwegian cartoonist and author Kjell Aukrust, it featured a group of eccentric characters all living in the small village of Pinchcliffe. The TV special was a collection of sketches based on Aukrust's books, with no real story line. After 1.5 years of work, it was decided that it didn't really work as a whole, so production on the TV special was stopped (with the exception of some very short clips, no material from it has ever been seen by the public), and Caprino and Aukrust instead wrote a screenplay for a feature film using the characters and environments that had already been built.

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