Tales Of The Night REVIEW

Animated film Tales Of The Night.

"This isn't a hat, you know, I've actually got a freakishly shaped head."

Release Date: 25 May 2012
U | 84 minutes
Distributor: Soda Pictures
Director: Michel Ocelot
Cast: Marine Griset, Julien Beramis, Yves Barsaco, Michel Elias

French animator Michel Ocelot once declared of Shrek, “Not that! I cannot watch it! I suffer because of its ugliness!” His film Tales Of The Night may be computer-animated, but its style is antique. It uses black silhouette characters that hark back to some of the oldest cartoons ever made, as well as to classic children’s picture books. (Anyone remember Jan Pienkowski’s silhouette art for Joan Aiken’s storybook, The Kingdom Under The Sea?) The backgrounds are exquisitely delicate – ah, those leafy tree branches! – or sunnily psychedelic.

Its six short tales are simply and rhythmically told, with wit and perspicacity but none of the knowing snark of Shrek. There’s a European prince who confesses to the wrong woman that he gets hairy at night (don’t be scared, parents – he’s an adorable wolf.) An African boy gets a magic tom-tom drum; a Himalayan lad with a talking horse has his honesty terribly tested. The stories are linked by slightly irritating educational interludes where a boy and girl suit up for the next story, a bit like Mr Benn.

It’s obviously a film for children, though a couple of moments could upset the very young. Older viewers will admire the film’s storytelling virtues, but may find their interest drifting a little through its feature length. This review is based on the subtitled French film; it’s playing in cinemas in both subbed and dubbed versions.

Andrew Osmond

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