Princes and Princesses

Tagged: Film

French animated film (2000). La Fabrique, Les Armateurs, Salud Productions, Studio O. Directed and written by Michel Ocelot. Voice cast comprises Yves Barsacq, Philippe Cheytion and Arlette Mirapeu. 70 minutes. Colour.

Originally an eight-part Television series called Ciné si (1989); the success of Ocelot's animated Fantasy film Kirikou and the Sorceress (1998) resulted in six series episodes being edited into this film. Each story begins with a young man, a young woman and an old man in a theatre at night, sitting at desks and coming up with a plot. The youngsters dress up to play the leads: they research historical details and suitable attire, feeding the instructions into a Computer. This promptly applies the costumes to their bodies and manufactures the set, plus any Robots needed to perform other roles; the couple then acting out the tale on stage.

Two of the stories are sf. In the hope of marrying the King's daughter, many Princes have tried in vain to conquer a Sorceress's castle; but a young man disarms, walks up to the door and knocks. The Sorceress allows him to enter, showing him around: an intellectual and Scientist, she defeats her attackers not by Magic but with Technology – the man realizes he would rather stay with her than marry the Princess. The second tale is set in 3000: when an evil Princess tries to buy a singing creature, its owner gifts it to her, saying she may keep it if she kills him before midnight – but if she fails, they marry. She agrees, believing her Mega-Radar will locate him. Other suitors are in hiding; they are found by the radar and killed, but it fails to locate the owner – he and the creature are one and the same, and the radar cannot locate anything directly beneath it.

The other four stories are fantasy: a Prince frees a Princess, aided by the Princes who had failed in the past and were transformed into ants. In ancient Egypt a peasant boy provides figs to Queen Hatshepsut, but her rewards anger an official. In nineteenth-century Japan, after attempting to steal an old lady's coat, the thief is forced to take her sightseeing, providing an excuse to replicate Katsushika Hokusai's beautiful landscape art. A Princess kisses a Prince, who turns into a frog; she is reluctant to kiss it again ("You said you'd do anything for me." "I said it to a Prince, not a frog."), so he leaps and kisses her ... she turns into a slug: they kiss each other repeatedly, only to transform into various animals (see Shapeshifters), until he turns into a Princess and she into a Prince, and they decide it is best to leave it at that (see Transgender SF).

The stories with ants and Egypt are the weakest; the remainder are likable and interesting. The animation is charming and often beautiful, influenced by the cut-paper silhouette art of Lotte Reiniger (who was also homaged in the 2016 Steven Universe episode "The Answer"). Of the two television episodes not used, one was based on the ancient Greek tale of Icarus (see Mythology). [SP]

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