Ernest & Celestine

Ernest & Celestine ★★★½

”My chocolate!”

In a time when lifeless and unattractive computer generated animations are dominating box office charts watching this enchanting and creative little animation which features a pretty much primitive technique and a very simple plot outline is an incredibly enjoyable experience. At first Ernest & Celestine looks like a childish animation that doesn't have anything to satisfy adults, after all who makes a film about a mouse that befriends a bear using hand drawn images?! That’s the biggest mistake one can make when approaching this one, although the story is very similar to one of those bedtime stories that people read to their seven year old kids but quite amazingly the directors manage to highlight themes which are incredibly thought-provoking and up-to-date which means Ernest & Celestine goes beyond a typical adaptation of a popular children’s book.

First of all the technique is really impressive, directors Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar and Benjamin Renner fill their work with eye-catching and sharp colors and by employing a minimal approach they manage to transform that essential innocence and simplicity of a children’s book to the screen, the lines that create everything are simple, there’s nothing complicated about the way they draw characters and places and even the way they use colors to paint things is very simple which eventually makes it much easier to connect with the film and its messages. But this approach doesn't mean that they sacrifice beauty to reach simplicity, in fact the film’s biggest achievement is that it wonderfully finds a way of being simple and utterly beautiful at the same time and that’s exactly where many animations fail.

And then there is the story. I know it’s quite dangerous to over-analyze artistic works– specially animations – but the issues addressed here are not easy to ignore. Here we have a world with two different societies which are living beside each other but they both see each other as direct and hostile enemies and when two individuals from these two communities form a relationship their decision comes under intense criticism from both sides as they consider the other one to be dangerous, corrupt and dishonest. But it is this friendship – at first a taboo for both parties – that finally convinces people to change their viewpoints. I haven’t read the original books so I don’t know if these themes are actually part of the original material or directors have added them to the animation in order to make it more suitable for adults but one things is for sure: under that simple and seemingly childish surface of Ernest & Celestine lies a very profound and significant subject matter. In the end of course friendship overcomes all the hate and intolerance which suits the fairytale-ish and joyous look of the film, at least in animations dreams can come true.

Ernest & Celestine is surely one of the most creative and charming animations of the recent years, it once again proves that sometimes in order to create something fresh you have to go back to the roots.

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