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.
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).