Films4Families | 2017 | 57 minutes
Stranger Says: Kirikou and the Sorceress animator Michel Ocelot produced this lush and vibrant children’s feature in his signature silhouette style. It’s anchored by a cleverly meta premise: a projectionist and his two apprentices try to avoid expected plot devices while bringing four magical tales to life, which follow a girl who learns to master monsters, a magician-in-training who must outwit his devious master, an abused ship boy and his canny cat, and the film’s eponymous story, about a young man trying to save his father’s life and the shape-shifting princess who decides his fate. It’s short and sweet (a manageable 57 minutes), inherently charming, and clever enough to be enjoyed by adults, though children who see it will need to be able to read—it’s in French with English subtitles. (LEILANI POLK)
SIFF Says:A young girl who lives in a monster-fearing underground community gains the courage to face her fears and challenge her society in “The Mistress of the Monsters.” A poor Persian boy becomes apprentice to a powerful enchanter, only to learn of his dastardly ulterior motives in “The Sorcerer’s Pupil.” A put-upon ward on a pirate ship outsmarts his captain during a stop in India in “The Ship’s Boy and His Cat.” And the son of a dying Russian tsar races against time to find a cursed princess in “Ivan Tsarevitch and the Changing Princess.” These are the four enchanting tales imagined, conceived, and designed by three people―a boy, a girl, and an old technician―who meet nightly at a dilapidated movie theater and share stories. As they consider the morals and gender ramifications of each yarn they’d like to spin, each tale comes alive as expressive silhouettes in front of opulent, country-specific backgrounds. Celebrated director Michel Ocelot (Tales of the Night) does it again, infusing these deeply rooted archetypes and fables with life, verve, and his gorgeous animation style.
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