Tales Of The Night

Tales Of The Night

****

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

From the maker of charming family animations Kirikou And The Sorceress and Azur & Asmar: The Princes' Quest comes a fresh collection of delights, a series of fairytales about princes and princesses inspired by African folklore. Older viewers will be reminded of cartoon hero Mr Ben as the stories' principal protagonists, sitting in a city office, design different costumes for themselves, try out different roles and then have adventures. Whilst this might seem a bit complex for younger ones, it has to be remembered that much modern kids' entertainment breaks the fourth wall, and classic fairy tales are all about challenging assumptions.

Whilst not as red in tooth and claw as many traditional fairytales, these are cruel in places and they don't all have perfectly happy endings. Along the way there's murder, suicide, tribal warfare, human sacrifice and several encounters with giant monsters; yet such is the moral confidence with which the tales are told that we can be sure to come back to a solid understanding of the world. Romance, self-belief, honesty and integrity are all celebrated and challenges are posed to destructive traditions. Witch doctors, high priests and arrogant kings don't tend to get what they want.

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Like Ocelot's previous work, Tales Of The Night benefits from beautiful design. Its silhouetted characters are like shadow puppets but still have plenty of expression. Vividly coloured backgrounds inspire a sense of awe. The effect is absorbing, like opening a wonderfully illustrated storybook.

This film is perhaps a little too long to work for most children in the cinema. It will probably fare best on DVD, where the stories can be watched one at a time, but don't be surprised if your kids ask for more. For adults the effect may not be quite as spellbinding but there is still a great deal to admire and the stories, for all their simplicity, have a profound appeal. Ocelot has worked his magic once again: Tales Of The Night is a real treat.

Reviewed on: 02 Feb 2012
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Enchanting, magical tales told using silhouette animation and screened in 3D.
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Director: Michel Ocelot

Writer: Michel Ocelot

Starring: Julien Bramis, Marine Griset, Michel Elias

Year: 2011

Runtime: 84 minutes

Country: France


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