‘Tom-tom boy, what a racket’
I recently got around to seeing Michel Ocelot’s latest animated feature, Tales of the Night, and although it was as enchanting as any of his work I felt that it was most definitely the weakest.
It’s only the third film of his that I have yet to see, the previous two being his most well known titles: Kirikou and the Sorceress and Azur and Asmar. Yet, in the space of these few journeys he has become one of my most favourite filmmakers, if not possibly my favourite animator. Since discovering his work a few years back I’ve always maintained a view that should I ever have kids of my own then I’d want them to see his films, as these are the kind of stories that really inspired me when I was a child. Basic in plot, but very strong in their execution.
Tales of the Night is about two young aspiring filmmakers and an old veteran filmmaker, whom every night meet up at an old cinema and play out their ideas. This forms the basis of the film and what proceeds is a collection of short 10 minute stories which play out in a theatrical style. Ocelot’s usual vibrant colour palette is present, although the whole film is made to look like a shadow puppet show. This means that it is all side on imagery, but noticeable to see how they have used 2D and 3D imagery in a creative manner.
I found it quite unique in the effect that the characters in shadow meant that you could not see any subtle expressions or emotions in their face, and this sometimes made it hard to associate or sympathise with them. But on the other hand they were stripped down to the bare minimum and what emotion was present was very sharp.
Ultimately the problem lay in the ending of the film, after the 7th or so story the film simply ends and there is nothing to really tie up the blanket storyline concerning the aspiring filmmakers. This does seem very strange and it leaves everything up in the air without closure, but all things considered it was just as entertaining and enchanting a film as I would expect from Michel Ocelot.