Tales of the Night (Les contes de la nuit) Directed by: Michel Ocelot Cast: Julien Bermis, Marine Griset Running Time: 1 hour 25 mins Rating: Not Rated Showtimes at PIFF: Sunday 2/12 5:30pm at Whitsell Auditorium, Wednesday 2/15 6:15pm at Whitsell Auditorium, Saturday 2/18 1:00pm at World Trace Center Theater Complete PIFF Schedule
PLOT: A group of animated actors act out a series of folktales from around the world.
WHO'S IT FOR? Fans of folktales and fairy tales who appreciate stylish animation.
Ocelot, director of 1998's Kirikou and the Sorceress, directs another film about folktales and fables. This time, a man and woman in a theater act out the parts from a series of stories about princes, princesses, good and evil. The stories were interesting, and all new to me. I got very caught up in some of them. But the most remarkable feature of the film is the animation styles. Ocelot's characters are all silhouettes, acting out their parts against brightly colored backgrounds. It's challenging to watch a film where characters don't have faces, you'll sometimes see white eyes with black pupils but that's about it. It works because fairy tales aren't about real life matters, they're all about heightened emotion.
The second effect of using all silhouettes is to throw out race. Though these stories take place all over the world, in Asia, Africa, South America and Europe, the characters look the same throughout. It highlights the universal themes employed in folktales. The voice actors also seem to be working extra hard, reading almost like storytellers rather than traditional animated characters.
The episodic nature of the film works for and against it. Some of the stories are more engaging than others. This means that if you didn't like a particular tale (the Tibet one about the talking horse was really upsetting to me) it's over soon. But overall, the film was so unique in style and tone, it kept me pretty engaged.
FINAL SCORE: 7/10