Reviewed by: Koukla Maclehose

This is a Shakespearean tale, re-told by wooden puppets, with the "strings" playing an integral part.

The first images are completely striking with the old king of Hebalon, who resembles chess-playing Death from Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal, committing suicide by severing his head from the strings. But before he does so, he tells us that his reign of terror and constant battles against the Zeriths people, which has ruined the lives of everyone in the kingdom, has to stop. His son Hal must take over and install peace.

The king's brother, who was lurking in the background and heard everything, takes the old king's suicide note and shreds it to pieces. This will allow him to claim that the Zeriths were responsible for the death, encouraging acts of revenge. But Hal, the dutiful son, has decided to travel the country in disguise to learn from the people and discover the truth. On the way, he will discover love, friendship and betrayal and that nothing is what it seems.

The musical accompaniment is powerful and one feels the viewer is in for a treat, but soon the wooden puppets become, well, very wooden and the wonderful aesthetic loses its attraction, with each movement taking too long. There are some astonishing achievements: a lovemaking scene with all the strings getting in the way and a birth showing an infant carved out of the wood and brought to life by strings coming from the mother.

I have to confess that I could not sustain it until the end. Although in so many ways admirable, I found it also extremely dreary.

It deserves four stars for technical achievement and the beauty of the scenes, but nil points for sustainable attention skills.

Reviewed on: 11 Sep 2005
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The son of a king sets out to find the truth behind his father's death.
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Director: Anders Ronnow-Klarlund

Writer: Naja Marie Aidt, Anders Ronnow-Klarlund

Starring: voices of James McAvoy, Ian Hart, Derek Jacobi, Claire Skinner, Catherine McCormack, Julian Glover, David Harewood, Samantha Bond

Year: 2004

Runtime: 92 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: Denmark/Sweden/Norway/UK


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