Kirikou And The Sorceress

****

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Mankind's history is littered with fable and parable - the only trouble is by the time the general public get to see them Disney has usually cutseyed them up to the point where all the bad guys are Brits and have prat-falling side-kicks.

Michel Ocelot's Kirikou And The Sorceress, however, makes no excuses for its basis in West African myth and gives no quarter to Westernised ideas of what is "proper," for which we should all be grateful.

Kirikou is a baby, or at least he is to outward appearances. The film begins with him crawling out of his mother himself - don't panic, it's all very tastefully done, though there is full frontal nudity throughout and none of the women have visited the bra department of M&S lately.

Kirikou may be small, but that doesn't stop him talking 19 to the dozen with the other members of his village and asking questions they would rather not answer. Questions such as "Where is my dad?" ("Eaten by the sorceress," says his mother) and "Why have we no water in the village?" ("Because the sorceress has cursed the spring", comes the reply). These lead to the biggest question of all: "Why is the sorceress so mean?"

A very good question and it's true, Karaba the sorceress is pretty mean. Surrounding herself with sinister henchmen that she calls fetishes, she lives alone on a mountain, keeping watch on the villagers with a view to making their lives a misery. But Kirikou wants to know the truth and so sets out on a dangerous quest to find his granddad on the other side of the mountain - preferably without getting eaten himself.

The animation is colourful and engaging, with Ocelot drawing on imagery from African tribal art and Egyptian mythology to give the film a unique feel. The bad guys are appropriately sinister without being too frightening and though there is humour, it's won't rot your teeth.

The moral seems to be that despite your size you can be wise, but there is a more adult message about political apathy and rumour for those who want to dig deeper.

Reviewed on: 16 Jan 2004
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Tale of a little boy who makes a big difference.
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Read more Kirikou And The Sorceress reviews:

Jennie Kermode ****

Director: Michel Ocelot

Writer: Michel Ocelot

Starring: Theo Sebeko, Antoinette Kellerman, Kombisile Sangweni, Fezele Mpeka

Year: 1998

Runtime: 74 minutes

BBFC: U - Universal

Country: France/Belgium/Luxembourg

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