Saturday, December 20, 2008

Beautiful fairy tales

I recently brought home a brand-new animated DVD from the library called Princes and Princesses to share with my daughter. The premise of the movie is simple: an art teacher and his two students conjure up (with the help of a magic robot) costumes and scenery to act out various fairy tales. There are six tales in all, ranging from European tales of enchantment and bravery to a Japanese morality play to an Egyptian fable about betrayal. What makes this film truly magical is the animation. All the stories are told using silhouettes, and the details in the scenery and costumes is amazing. Feathers, willows, filigrees and lace are all beautifully recreated in what appears to be cut-out black paper (I freely admit I have no idea how they did the animation). The workmanship is so fine, and the images are so beautiful, that no matter how old you are you will be captivated by the look of this film. The plots to the stories are all very mild, which is not always the case with fairy tales. In the one futuristic story, the lonely & bitter princess uses a destructor ray to eliminate the 'princes' vying for her love, but you never actually see anyone being vaporized.
One word of warning, however. This film was made in France, and is subtitled in English, so if you watch this with your children you will have to read it aloud to them the first time. Once they have the gist of the plot, they may not need the narration to follow the story the next time they watch it. If you enjoy reading out loud to your kids, this will be a fun challenge. If you're not comfortable reading out loud (and many people aren't), then this film might not be a good fit, especially since some of the subtitles are a bit bizarre (I suspect the subtitles were produced by a computer with voice-recognition software, because some of the errors are totally from left-field).
But whatever your comfort level with narrating the film, this is a gorgeous piece of art.

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