It’s a brave director who dares to resurrect the portmanteau movie – braver still when said anthology is comprised of six animated vignettes.
Tales of the Night (aka Les contes de la nuit) is part of Michel Ocelot’s on-going mission to draw children back towards the fantastical world of animation. As with much of his work this latest project is a series of morality tales balanced against deceit, evil, loyalty and love. This is a classic fairy tale given a contemporary twist as modern characters re-enact folklore themes against a backdrop of tyrants, werewolves, holy men and witch doctors. Those familiar with Ocelot’s previous work (Kirikou and the Sorceress) will recognise the African themes scattered throughout his stories, while aficionados of animation will detect more than a touch of German genius Lotte Reiniger’s work.
Perhaps too undemanding for adults, Tales of the Night will be best appreciated by kids willing to explore and experiment. Seen at the London Film Festival in a mixed audience of children and adults, it received a mixed reception.
There is real magic in Ocelot’s approach even though the end result comes via digital technology. The use of shadow puppetry – a daring aspect in this age of CGI, 3D and flash-bang-wallop effects innovation – is another reason to seek this out. The stories themselves tend to lack spark and emerge as too simplistic. But as fables they succeed.
On staggered release