Michel Ocelot's African tale continues to mesmerize
By Sylvain Thuret
In 1998, Michel Ocelot's Kirikou et la sorcière (Kirikou and the Sorceress), a wonderful, discreet animated movie, became a hit, enthralling 1.5 millions viewers in French theatres. Considering the economic disarray which French animation is in, it was a miracle.
Afterwards, Michel Ocelot released Princes et Princesses, a collection of short movies, but he was reluctant ti make a Kirikou sequel. Fortunately, the French director, who grew up in Guinea, finally surrendered to his fans: Kirikou et les bêtes sauvages, (Kirikou and the Wild Animals) will appear in theatres starting December 7.
The evil sorceress Karaba, the foe of Kirikou and his fellow villagers and the centre of the first film's story, is still in the picture, albeit in the background. Kirikou et les bêtes sauvages is not a real sequel. Not a prequel either. Rather, it is a succession of stories that sem extracted from the first movie and developed in parallel. Hence, Kirikou is not the handsome grown-up the public befriended with at the end of the first feature. He is still the daring and adventurous little boy everyone fell in love with in the first place. Kirikou's grandfather serves as the proud narrator of his grandson's chronicles, thus showing a key component of the African culture. Each sketch unfolds around an African animal, plant or location: hyenas, giraffes, Victoria Falls, Mount Kilimanjaro become compelling characters.
While the first Kirikou was also about African tales and traditions, this new movie uses a more didactic approach, emphasizing values such as respect and knowing your immediate world. To deliver their message, Michel Ocelot and co-director Bénédicte Galup's refined drawings are imbued with deep, bright colours, instilling a sense of contemplation and beauty. The lush colours of nature are enhanced by the melodic, percussive beat of the original soundtrack by worlds famous musicians Youssou N'Dour, Manu Dibango and Rokia Traoré. The result is a mesmerizing journey for all ages into African landscape and culture.
Michel Ocelot, 2005.
*L'article ci-dessus a été initialement publié dans le Paris Times de décembre 2005,
mensuel anglophone distribué sur la capitale.