Tales of the Night (2011, Michel Ocelot)

Tales of the Night is a visual masterpiece. It’s computer generated silhouette animation, usually two dimensional (though director Ocelot does branch occasionally into the third), about what seems to be a futuristic theatre company. Late one night, two young actors (and costume designers and writers) and the guy who seems to be their director, sit and adapt a bunch of fables and folk tales for the stage.

Except the stage is never clear–the viewer just sees these adaptations as part of the film; one of Night’s major failings is the lack of emphasis on the actors. Its other major failing is related–the female actor invariably takes the backseat. Even when she protests she hates a role… she has to do it. Even when she says this role will be her strongest, it’s not. The boy–in the fable–is always the hero.

Ocelot keeps misses his chance to do something interesting with a female protagonist in a fable; by the last one, it’s more annoying than disappointing.

The fables involve a werewolf in Burgundy, an African one, a Caribbean one featuring the afterlife (sort of), a Tibetan one, one about the Aztecs (or Mayans). The final one is just a standard fairy tale. I may have forgotten one, but I don’t think so.

The African one might be the best, though the Caribbean one is hilarious. They’re all often touching. The stumbling starts with the last two.

Still, Ocelot makes a magnificent film. Shame about his gender issues.

CREDITS

3/4★★★

Written and directed by Michel Ocelot; edited by Patrick Ducreut; music by Christian Maire; released by StudioCanal.

Starring Julien Beramis (Boy), Marine Griset (Girl) and Yves Barsacq (Théo).


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