Ernest and Celestine
Quaint family animation that creates a beautiful world leaving viewers of all ages to feel like a child again.
If you’ve seen French animation or want to begin exploring more I need only point you to the wonderfully hilarious A Town Called Panic (2009) It only happens to be one of my favourite animations let alone comedies, it’s the wonderful French affliction on such obscure lead characters (toy figures Cowboy, Indian and Horse no less) along with a natural feeling animation that makes it so brilliant. Upon discovering that the two directors Stephane Aubier and Vincent Patar had released a new animation I was very excited to get the chance to attend a screening.
Set in a world where Bears and Mice live like humans working in shops and attending schools, the two animals live divided from each other as they fear to ever interact. When a young mouse called Celestine ventures to gain the precious teeth of bear cubs she meets Ernest who is the very form of a gentle giant. However both are banished from their people and hunted down for their crimes.
Once again I found myself in a small family screening of this particular film, I can happily say it pleased everyone. Firstly the animation style is one I find very endearing and reminds me of such childhood animations as The BFG and The Snowman. The style is hand drawn which mirrors the work of Gabrielle Vincent who wrote and illustrated the books the film is based on. Such a style of animation is refreshing as the likes of Dreamworks and Pixar can start to feel too CGI heavy.
With this being a story centred on a bear and mouse the film very much focuses on the ideals of fairy tales. This is shown straight away with Celestine and her fellow young mice being read the scary tale of the big bad bear. However Celestine challenges this notion wondering how someone could possibly know that all bears are bad. It’s this morality that is explored in a gentle yet uplifting tone throughout that is created by the two central characters.
In terms of voice acting we have the smooth French accent of Lambert Wilson (who appeared in those Matrix sequels. What sequels mate? Yeah me too.) that is oddly applied to the stumbling figure of Ernest yet it is carried out perfectly. Playing counterpart Celestine is newcomer Pauline Brunner who equally matches her somewhat more experienced co-actor.
This is a wonderful animation and doesn’t hold any of those French film stereotypes you might expect (It must of been Kristin Scott Thomas’s day off) It might hold a tone that is directed specifically at children but this only allows it to resonate all the more with an older generation, making this great French family fun. (alliteration is good right?)