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Two Jungles
"Madagascar” takes place in two very diverse jungles: the urban jungle of New York City and the literal jungle of the title. Production designer Kendal Cronkhite and art director Shannon Jeffries collaborated to create two worlds that were real enough to be believable but whimsical enough to fit with the overall cartoon style of the film.

Cronkhite remarks, "Craig Kellman had done the initial character designs of the four lead characters, which were hysterically funny—very graphic and slightly retro. They were definitely influenced by the 2D animation of the 1950s and ‘60s, so that influenced the production design, as well. We didn't want it to look like cartoon characters set in a real world. Everything had to have the same sensibility, so you were in for the ride.”

We first meet Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe and Gloria the Hippo in their home at the Central Park Zoo. The real Central Park Zoo has undergone a number of changes over the years, so Cronkhite took it back to its heyday. Director Tom McGrath says, "In actuality, the larger animals are no longer seen at the Central Park Zoo, so Kendal wanted to capture a kind of fantasy 1960's version of the zoo and New York as a whole.”

Ben Stiller, who grew up in New York, offers, "I love what they did with New York and the Central Park Zoo, because I have memories of going there as a kid. They took this iconic vision of the zoo and stylized it in a way that reminded me of the cartoons I watched growing up. I love the timelessness of it.”

Cronkhite went back through the archives of the Central Park Zoo, pouring over historical photos and comparing then and now. "Our zoo is more like it was about 40 or 50 years ago,” she states. "We made sure to include a building called The Arsenal that's always been there, and the clock tower, which is very iconic, and then we designed around them. We initially built it to look like a regular world and then ‘whacked it,' where we threw all the lines off-kilter, and exaggerated its proportions, so it looks more cartoony.”

The production designer and her team took the same approach for the overall look of New York, from the zoo to the subway to Grand Central Station, where the escaped "zoosters” get a little too close to their public for comfort. For all of its whimsy, however, the New York scenery is intentionally devoid of nature and bright colors and is somewhat claustrophobic. Cronkhite says, "We decided to set the New York scenes in late autumn, which gave us a very muted palette. We basically have a brick, concrete and limestone zoo set against an autumn tree line. All the trees and hedges are very groomed, almost like topiary. The animals are confined—even the greenery has fences around it—and the skyline of New York surrounds the zoo itself, adding to that feeling of containment. You don't see the sun, the moon or the stars in the sky. We essentially sucked any semblance of nature out of New York so we could pour it into Madagascar.”

Conversely, Madagascar is a virtual explosion of vivid, saturated colors. Whereas everything in New York had been linear and almost sterile, Madagascar appears open and freeform and bursting with life. "We wanted the colors to be lush and as varied as what you would find in nature,” Cronkhite states, "so even a single plant might go from pink to red to yellow to green.”

The design influences were also a study in contrasts. Classic cartoons and children's books had contributed to the concepts for both the characters and their New York home, while the primary inspiration for Madagascar's look came from the paintings of renowned French artist Henri Rousseau. Director Eric Darnell notes, "We wanted to create a fantasy jungle, and Henri Rousseau is an artist who never actually went to the jungle, but still created wonderful, exotic paintings of these fantastic, mysterious jungles. His almost


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