"Flåklypa Grand Prix" (English title: "Pinchcliff Grand Prix") is an amazing Norwegian puppet animation released in 1975. The film directed by Ivo Caprino has been, and probably will be, the biggest hit in the country since then, and if you see this outstanding film with its terrific visual techniques, you will know the reason immediately. The film is actually one of the criminally neglected films that must be released in DVD format in USA and other regions outside Norway (where DVD is available, and became a hit, of course).
The film's strength does not lie in its slow-moving story, but maybe I should tell you about it a little. It is about a quiet village Pinchcliff where harmonica-playing good-natured mechanic Reodor Felgen lives quietly with his two assistants feisty duck Solan and sheepish hedgehog Ludvig. The film can be divided into two parts, the first one being about the daily life of them and the Arab chief who visits the village and offers Reodor financial backup to join in the next car race.
The second part of the film shows the circuit car race, in which Reodor's team. Reodor's biggest rival happens to be Rudolf Blodstrupmoen, who once stole Reodor's blueprint for his engine, but Reodor has a surprise, Il Tempo Gigante, super racing car of his own making.
The film also includes one impressive musical section where puppets play the instruments, and the fingers of the puppets correspond to the right notes of the music they are playing.
The film was made with stop-motion filming (like Aardman's "Wallace and Gromit" series), massively time-consuming technique. It took five years for the crew to make "Pinchcliff Grand Prix," but the results are rewarding. Expressive gestures of the characters with unique (and often realistic) movements are always amusing to see, and the designs of the machines are still impressive and innovative. The speedy and thrilling car race sequences (with many POV images) are equivalent of the pod race scene of "Star Wars: Episode I," with which in fact the film share many elements.
It is regrettable that director Ivo Caprino (who passed away in 2001) didn't make another feature-length animation. If there was Academy Award for Best Animation Feature Film made in the 20th Century, "Pinchcliff Grand Prix" would be one of the strongest contenders, and I'm not surprised if it wins.