April 23, 2013

High Heeled Walks in Film

The walk of a character reveals potentially a great deal about who that character is, how they feel at a particular moment and their situation. Even though a person or character may have a "default walk", they will move differently at different times. If a person is tired or wearing certain clothing or carrying something, they will move differently. I myself recognise that my own walk changes depending on my mood or situation. So if you animate (or act out) a walk, there is great opportunity to reveal information to the audience.

Originally I thought I would use this post to point to a number of walks by characters in high heels. I've picked examples that are entertaining, honest and unique. In my search for examples of great characters in high heels I came across a walk that isn't so high-heeled but is still a great character. That character is Annie Hall, played by Diane Keaton. She isn't really wearing high heels, at best the shoes she wears have a small heel. But her walk and movements are so unique and true. This portrayal couldn't be overlooked. Link to the walk.
The first high heeled walk that popped into my mind for it's exaggerated and comedic quality was that of Peg Bunday acted by Katy Segal from the long running sitcom about a trashy and dysfunctional American family; Married With Children. Link to the walk. *I realise this clip is pretty long, the best walk examples are at 2:13, 3:02, 4:34 and 6:20.
Here is a girl imitating Peg Bundy's walk at Halloween.
Then came to mind the naive and sexy singer/ukelele player/hopeless romantic Sugar Kane Kowalczyk acted by Marilyn Monroe in Some Like it Hot. (Which by the way is a perfect movie.) Link to the walk. Seeing her walk right after seeing Joe as Joesephine and Jerry as Daphne walking in drag is a perfect contrast.
High heels aren't just for girls. Mrs. Doubtfire played by Robin Williams is a unique heel walk example. Mrs. Doubtfire wears "grandma high heels". Williams portrayal of a middle aged man in the middle of a divorce who just wants to see his kids and so disguises himself as a sweet elderly woman housekeeper is super entertaining. This clip is not so much walking but dancing. Link to the walk.
I resisted finding a stack of animated examples of high heeled women. I think looking to real life for study of character is incredibly valuable. (Actually it's important to study LIFE and not simple existing portrayals of characters on film be that in the form or live action or animation.) It's tricky to study animated characters when trying to search out the personality of your own animated character. This happens too often and the acting choices made my animators end up canibalising from other animator's work and therefore not end up as honest portrayals. But I'm going to put Jessica Rabbit on this list since her walk is unforgettabe. Here she is in her famous scene, offering Eddie money to find Roger. Link to the walk.
This clip is of Bart Simpson teaching Lisa to walk in high heels. I couldn't find it in English. Link to the walk.
I think it's easy for an animator to get wrapped up in the technicality of creating a walk. When an animator opens up a digital scene with a character rig it's so easy to just start making keys and diving right in without really doing any planning. When I get a new scene to animate I have learned from experience that it's really a best practice to make some kind of a plan before starting to animate.

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