The Sandman and the Lost Sand of Dreams

Rankin-Bass lives!

Actually, this has nothing to do with Rankin-Bass – but you can see the influence. Sinem Sakaoglu (The Three Robbers) and Jesper Møller (Asterix and the Vikings) have been busy the last three years working on what is sure to be a new children’s classic, The Sandman and the Lost Sand of Dreams, Germany’s first stop-motion feature. Here’s the trailer:

The film opened six weeks ago in Germany and Austria. Ms. Sakaoglu sent us some further information:

“Sandman is a cult TV figure (originally East German) here, who’s been putting German kids to sleep with his sand for the last 51 years. While he is one of the main characters in the film, he is not the protagonist of the story. It’s about Miko, a little boy overcoming his fears and the power of dreams…”

Check the film’s website for some great behind the scenes photos from the production, or watch the video below. Let’s cross our fingers that someone picks up this little gem up for US distribution.


  • http://www.sneezemeaway.com Ryan G

    Watching that making of, or any making of a stop motion film really inspires me. Sure it’s hard work for us 2D and 3D animators / technicians to make a movie, constantly sitting in front of a light box or computer for hours at a time. But no one get’s their hands dirty like a stop motion animator / technician. That’s actual physical labour, with chemical fumes and all!

  • http://www.enigmation.de slowtiger

    Wrong on so many levels …

    The original Sandmännchen was a charming creature which never ever talks – as none of the other protagonists in the original spots. (Some history here: http://bit.ly/cUgRsr and http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandmännchen) It was the host of a daily show featuring one short story for small children, told with puppetry, animation, and live action all mixed. But the opening and ending sequence was always stop motion.

    The voices alone make me cringe – much too exited and fast for 4-yr-olds, which was the original target audience. But the mouth positions are even worse – they just don’t belong to the design.

    Years ago I had a talk with one of the original animators of the old TV spots, and we imagined some kind of new story for the sandman – impossible to produce, since Gerhard Behrendt (the inventor) was still alive then and firmly saw that nobody did something “inapproproate” with his character. I believe this feature was only possible to do after his death (2006) because of this, and while watching the trailer I think he was totally right. If this is stop motion: why does it look like being made from plastic like some cheap CGI? Where’s the texture and dust and feeling of surface from the original episodes?

    The story took part in a german competition about “best script for feature animation” 2 yrs ago so I knew the outline, and even the moderator couldn’t help but notice how bland and cookie-cutter it was: Random child has to help ill-defined title character on a strange planet (look, colours! odd creatures!), paired with an odd sidekick (JaJa the Sheep?).

    And last year I met some of the animators from this who told stories about really bad atmosphere on set which caused them to quit the job and leave the place (OK, I think this can be heard from any bigger production), which didn’t surprise me.

    Some excerps from the original Sandmännchen can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysghAm5AZio – don’t mix up the host sequence with the stories inside.

    • Martin

      Temper Temper Mr Tiger!

      your comments are rather subjective and although that’s the nature of comments, there seems to be a lot of not so subtle venting going on…

      I worked on the project, albeit doing only some minor scripty things, but I’d like to put some points in perspective:

      1. this is not the original Sandmaennchen, but a careful and in my opinion successful update for today’s cinema audience. There’s no way in hell the producers would have managed funding for a feature by using the original design / concept and plot-structure. Same goes for a main protagonist, who does not speak, plus the title gives you a clue that this adventure is all about the Sandman, not about Pittiplatsch, Plumps et al – rather than inflating the TV show to feature size, this is a brand new story: same Sandman, same tone, new characters and a new universe!

      2. the look is very, very clean, yes – no thumbprints on the characters a la Aardman, no dust and textures a la the Quay Bros, BUT calling the look “cheap plasticy CGI” is a low blow: this is polished (in both senses) stop motion, looking like “Corpse Bride”, not like “Barbie in the Nutcracker”.

      3. the plot is a very traditional hero’s journey: the grown-ups might not be in awe of its twists but it serves the intended target audience of small children, while not talking down to them or dumbing down the plot.

      4. I’ve seen the film several times in cinemas packed with kids and they eat it up: they laugh, they cry and they cover their eyes at the spooky parts. AND they dig the sidekick sheep – who, far from being an abomination like Jar Jar Binks, is rather like silly Goofy to dry Mickey Mouse or clumsy Ernest Penfold to Danger Mouse.

      5. as far as the atmosphere on set goes, I know that out of a crew of hundreds the vast majority enjoyed both the shoot in Berlin and were surprised about how charming the final film turned out to be. You’re correct that one can’t keep everyone happy on a big production like this – so why point that out?

      cheers,
      m.

      PS: happy to get your feedback

  • david

    Ugh…

    Im not even German, let alone East German:) But the original brings back memories I don’t even have…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3P_4AIGZRQ

    The new one…. not so much. What happened to the eyes?! And his voice?!
    And the annoying sheep:|
    When will people learn, sidekicks spouting pop cultural references are hardly EVER funny!?

  • Matt

    YAY Germany!
    YAY Stop Motion Animation!
    YAY for ANIMATION in general!
    Go Go Go!
    More More More!

  • http://bjarne-h.blogspot.com/ Bjarne Hansen

    -slowtiger
    - and…soo?? but did you see the film ? or are you just a know it better” kind of fellow.
    The visuals are wonderful in this film. But hey if you haven’t seen it then where should you know. You just spread “hear-say” without knowing.

  • Michel Van

    Sandmännchen is German cult and one insane history
    of West vrs East German TV in Coldwar

    Dr. Ilse Obrigs created the legendary Figure in 1958 for broadcast station DFF (East)
    but She escape to west Germany Berlin and work for broadcast station SFB (West)
    there Mrs Obrigs propose the Sandmännchen for SFB,
    in mean time at DFF Gerhard Behrendt work also on it
    so on 22. November 1959 DFF broadcast first episode of “Das Sandmännchen” nation wide in East
    while on 1. December 1959 SFB broadcast first West episode in west Berlin
    then after 29. October 1962 the west version is broadcast nation wide on ARD
    the West version had 80 episode with stop motion intro&ending and 1500 Animation film to fill in.

    the East version was “heavy used” for socialism propaganda
    like the Sandmännchen visit only other socialis countries or visit the East German National Army
    also the Animation film were glorification to socialism
    in 1978 a Sandmännchen doll fly to Soviet space station Salut, later the west doll on Space Shuttle
    1989 the East Germany implode and Germany reunite in 1991

    ironically One of the things that surivied East German was the “East” Sandmännchen
    it was only televised Show who still broadcast on DFF station during and after end of East Germany
    even as DFF was closed and MDR take over
    with MDR broadcast station part of ARD regional public-service broadcasters.
    the West version of Sandmännchen SFB got cancelled!
    the DFF production unit was privatized in “Sandmann Studio Trickfilm GmbH”
    in years after reunification the Sandmännchen became a Cultstatus in Germany
    “the last remain from good old time of Germany socialism era”…

    • eeteed

      very interesting!

      thank you so much for sharing!

  • Andrew

    I like your thoughts. You remind me of when I was young and stupid.

    If you are losing sleep over this its really sad.

  • http://rodtejada.wordpress.com/ Rod Tejada

    I was totally ignorant to what Slowtiger said on his post, and I got excited with the Animation and craftsmanship!

    So sad if the story is cookie cutter stuff… the world of movies, let alone animation, is sadly filled with that.

    I hope is not that bad at the end…

  • Baron Lego

    Hmmm… it’s reminds me of “James and the Giant Peach”, what with the kid starting out live action then becoming a animated character.

    I’m just happy to see anything stop motion related.

  • Scarabim

    Well, I thought the trailer looked perfectly charming. If the movie is dubbed in English and brought to the States, I’ll watch it.

    Just pray to god that it doesn’t get rewritten and debauched for Western audiences. Look what Butch Hartman did to The Magic Roundabout (Doogal). *shudder*

  • Bob

    I thought it looked charming … and put me in mind of Harryhausen’s fairy tales, with a touch of William Joyce. I’d love to see it.

  • Cyber Fox

    US Distribution for this is unlikely
    If the box-office sales of Fantastic Mr. Fox, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and 9 are concerned… Creativity doesn’t sell anymore

    What sells is
    - Left wing bullcrap
    - Hipster garbage (i.e. High School Musical 3)
    - Any horror film that uses gory realism
    - Badly-acted dramas

    • http://www.taberanimation.com Taber Dunipace

      You forgot mocap.

    • RadFemHedonist

      Because Scott Pilgrim and Fantastic Mr. Fox were so right wing… I loved both movies in part because they were, overall, fairly progressive (the only ways in which they weren’t: Scott Pilgrim’s reinforcement of stereotypes about bisexuals, though at least the movie seems to acknowledge that his reaction of shock is unwarranted, and Fantastic Mr. Fox’s description of the three farmers being ugly/short/fat as if that made them worse than conventionally attractive villains who behave in the exact same way, which in it’s defense was in the original book -which I have read- so it’s not like they added more crap), I saw Scott Pilgrim in cinemas, bought a film poster and plan to buy the movie on DVD, Fantastic Mr. Fox I didn’t see at the cinema (bought it on DVD) but only because at the time I was refusing to go to the cinema at all in order to save money, if I had gone that would have been at the top of my list of movies to see (I even kind of wanted to get one of the happy meal toys, and I hate McDonalds). I would also have loved to see Coraline, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, How to Train Your Dragon (the only one of those I haven’t yet seen at all, the rest I own on DVD), 9 and Where the Wild Things Are (not technically animated but a visually striking children’s film) at the cinema, among others.

    • RadFemHedonist

      Also, since I missed that you mentioned 9 in your comment (I mentioned it just because I liked it, not in response to you), I don’t see how that was right wing either, sure it had spiritual themes (and I’m an atheist and don’t believe in such things and am no religious apologist), but that doesn’t make it right wing per se. Besides, considering it’s a fantasy film in the first place, one can take the film to refer to the scientist giving his humanity to 1-9 in a non-religious sense if one so desires.

  • Sat

    Is it really Germany’s first stop-motion feature? I don’t know much about the original series, but this is looking good.

  • http://toonamir.blogspot.com Amir Avni

    This is beautiful!

  • http://palais.wikidot.com Jordan Scott

    The earliest surviving animated feature, Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed, is primarily stop-motion and German and, with a 1926 premiere, rather predates this. Even if one limits it to 3D puppet stop-motion, what about the Diehl brother’s 53-minute Die sieben Raben of 1937?

    • RadFemHedonist

      I was going to mention Prince Achmed as well (I’ve heard of, but don’t remember much about The Seven Ravens).

  • ShouldBeWorkin’

    Watching it with the sound off (at work y’know). Looks warm and whimsical. I’m not familiar with the original so no love is lost. I wonder if that’s how kids and interantional markets outside North America feel who never saw an original Underdog or Yogi Bear?

  • ShouldBeWorkin’

    BTW…I hate dubbing if brought to North America. Give me subtitles on a DVD anyday.

  • http://www.ronimation.com Ron

    Looks awesome! Count me as a fan. It reminds me a little of the old English children’s book series: Noddy. I love the European Cartoon styles. I hope it gets distribution in the US.

  • http://tedzey.wordpress.com tedzey

    Looks nice! I hope this gets a consideration for an oscar so that at least we could get 5 nominations again!

  • Alfons Moliné

    Actually, several stop-motion animated features had been made in former German Democratic Republic at state-owned DEFA animation studio in Dresden, such as “Die Spur Führt zum Silbersee” (The Trail Leads to Silver Lake), a Wild West-themed puppet feature (based on a book by prolific 19th-century German Western novel-writer Karl May), made in 1985. The DEFA animation studio ceased operations in 1991.

  • Anoniguy

    Ahahaha, this takes me back. I used to watch das sandmanchen when I was a little boy visiting family in Germany. It has a super-cute title song…

    “sandmann, lieber sandmann, es ist noch nicht soweit,
    wir lauschen erst dem abendgruß,
    ehe jedes kind ins bettchen muss,
    du hast gewiss noch zeit!”

    I don’t see anything wrong with this. If by some lucky turn of fate it gets released in the united states, I’m definitely going to take my children.

    I love when the behind the scenes footage is filled with shots of the skilled animators, technicians and craftsfolk at work. Seeing them building the sets, the puppets, and all, is so inspiring.

  • http://scuzzbopper.blogspot.com Ken Priebe

    True, ‘The Seven Ravens’ from 1937 also came from Germany, as well as ‘The Flying Windmill’ and ‘Trail Leads to Silver Lake’ in the 1980s.

    This one looks awesome though.

  • Emily

    Awesome “making-of” short! Thank you!

    The old Sandman design is still a little more charming, but I can’t wait to see this film. I hope we Americans get to see it!

  • http://www.stringstornasunder.blogspot.com Chris Powell

    Love the designs! looks charming and fun – on to research the original show!

  • Chris

    If this doesn’t get released in the US I am going to throw such a TANTRUM!!

  • Printis Arts

    Creative but what is it about?