Tales of the Night

Posted on January 3rd, 2014
Tales of the NightTales of the Night by Michel Ocelot
Series: Ciné Si #2
Published by Nord Ouest & Studio O in 2011
Genres: Animation
Location: International
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*** Suitable for children and adults of any age ***

A girl, a boy and an old cinema technician spend their evenings in an abandoned theatre, building and performing stories from all over the world. Each of the six short stories opens with their research process and discussions, then come the stories: a werewolf betrayed by his fiancee, a boy's journey through the underworld, a city in prey to a monster, a magic drum to which people can't help dancing, young lovers escaping an evil sorcerer...

Verdict: beautiful to watch and the stories are nice too!

I was inspired to see this film after reading The Night Circus because that book reminded me so much of being in an animated film. Silhouette animation is a very pared down art form. It needs to impress by its beauty and the elaboration of the drawing. Tales of the Night delivers on that score – it’s eye candy from start to finish. The stories are what you would expect from fairy tales. By the time we’re adults we know all the plotlines. I don’t get tired of hearing them again in a new form and I found a few of the slants on the stories genuinely moving.

Contes de la rue BrocaIt’s very French, this collecting and creating of new fairy tales. Here’s one to look out for if French is your thing – Contes de la rue Broca in book or dvd format. Available from all good suppliers of French stuff.

International collection of tales? – only sort of… Tales of the Night is very much a product of the multicultural world of the 20th/21st century. People in France, for example, have instant access to stories, images and even objects from many times and places, just as much as to the local culture. Everything ends up with the same status and when they want to build something new, they mix and match. To a large extent, the locations are chosen for aesthetic reasons – they provide variety in the scenery and costumes.

Take the story I liked best, about a girl who was to be sacrificed. It’s nominally based on an African story, set in a vaguely Aztec environment and altered to suit its new re-tellers. The stories are a product of syncretism, now there’s a fancy word! And then again, why shouldn’t they be? There are plenty of collections of original tales out there.

Princes and PrincessesPrinces and Princesses came out a few years before Tales of the Night. It’s in the same format – same three people making stories in a theatre – and is just as beautiful, though I’ve only seen snippets of it.

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One thought on “Tales of the Night

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