1. The Tale of Princess Kaguya
By Isao Takahata, 2013. Duration: 137 min. For all.
Summary : A bamboo cutter discovers a little girl in the trunk of a tree. With his wife, they decide to adopt him and raise him as their own child. The little girl grows up happy in the heart of the Japanese forest. But her father senses that her destiny is different and that she will have to leave them.
Our opinion : This story is an adaptation of a well-known popular tale in Japan. Many viewers were overwhelmed by Tomb of the Fireflies, Isao Takahata’s masterpiece. Historical realism is here replaced by fable, which does not exclude drama. This dramatic tone, which finds its peak in the finale, is however not the only one in the story. The first part, with its pastoral atmosphere and shimmering colours, is as much an ode to nature as to the pure joys of childhood. The second part depicts an exile that is both geographical and internal, where the heroine rejects noble courtiers. Humor bursts out in many sequences and it is this mixture of tones that forms the backbone of the story. This story reveals to us in dribs and drabs that happiness is often adorned with the ephemeral, that there is no love without suffering, that life engenders tears tempered by the durability of memory…
The graphics, with the exception of a few not always successful faces, play less on realism than on impressionism. Some scenes are superb, like the one where the heroine flees from the palace, shedding noble fabrics as she goes, in a hectic movement that takes everything away, even exploding an orderly graphic design. The tenderness that emanates from the initial scenes, their accuracy, their humor and their poetry, just like the delicate melancholy that runs through all this work, stir the heart for a long time.
2. Isle of Dogs
By Wes Anderson, 2018. Duration: 101 min. Adults and teenagers.
Summary : Due to an epidemic, the mayor of Megasaki orders the quarantine of all dogs on a waste island. The young Atari goes in search of his faithful companion, Spots. Without suspecting that a conspiracy threatens the city…
Our opinion : Second foray for the whimsical Wes Anderson into the world of animation. If the form changes, the background bears the elegant and melancholy touch specific to the filmography of the Texan director. Between homage to Japanese cinema and sharp satire of our society, this latest vintage is a striking new visual success, with always geometric and precise framing, and original animation. It is also a tale that is both political and poetic, dark and disconcerting, with a percussive soundtrack and biting humour. Not to be put in front of too young eyes, however: its sometimes rough and raw treatment makes it a pure cartoon for adults.
3. Marona’s Extraordinary Journey
By Anca Damian, 2019. Duration: 92 mins. For all.
Summary : Victim of an accident, a dog remembers her masters whom she loved throughout her life. Through his constant empathy, his life becomes a lesson in love.
Our opinion : What an invention in Marona’s drawing! Its mouth draws an upside-down white heart on which its nose forms a small black heart upside down. And his ears look like two wings when they unfold. It is a festival of shapes, colors and poetry that unfolds continuously. The author of this marvelous exuberance, Anca Dimian, adds to this prodigious talent that of not being burdensome.
4. The Wind Rises
By Hayao Miyazaki, 2013. Duration: 2h06mn. For all.
Summary : Jiro, who dreams of exceptional planes, becomes a famous aeronautical engineer.
Our opinion : The cartoon recounts thirty years of his life, the major events of which he goes through until Japan enters the war. The hero is inspired by engineer Jiro Horikoshi and novelist Tatsuo Hori. With his story, which interests adults and children alike, Miyazaki brings together his familiar themes one last time in an admirable bouquet of beauty and emotion. Where, against a backdrop of seriousness and humour, the fantastic only appears in the state of dreams.
5. The Pilgrim’s Journey
By Robert Fernandez, 2019. Duration: 115 mins. For all.
Summary : Chrétien (translation from English Christian) is an upright citizen of Destruction, a city ravaged by vices and evil deeds. The city is under the control of the infernal Appyon and his demonic minions. Chretien comes across a little book which captivates him, even when it reveals to him the malice of his soul, because at the same time it shows him the way to happiness. It is a real journey (progress in English) that Chrétien decides to make, to the celestial City where a king full of kindness reigns. He does it with a big bag on his back: the weight of his sin and its moral consequences, which is always growing heavier but which is invisible. This recalls this proverb from the Treasury of Sentences: “To each his own sin […]. No one sees the bag he is carrying on his back. »
Our opinion : The source book for this film was written in 1678 by John Bunyan, an English Baptist pastor who wrote it while he was in prison for performing religious services banned by the Anglican Church. The prison walls did not prevent the distribution of the work: it is the second most widely distributed book in the world among the books of Christian spirituality, after the “Introduction to the Devout Life”. The author of the film, Robert Fernandez (screenwriter and director), turned this book into a 3D cartoon giving it the look of a “fantasy” story, like “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the ‘ring” or “The Chronicles of Narnia Chapter 1: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”, thus intended for children, girls and boys alike (with however some impressive images for the little ones).
But in doing so, he in no way dulled the Christian flavor of the story, quite the contrary. A viewer with no religious culture can enter this story without any explicit Christian vocabulary, but a faithful will recognize the stages of the spiritual life. If he sees the hero drowning in the mire of the “quagmire of discouragement”, he hears within himself the call to perseverance. And when he then meets many characters, each dressed in a particular way, he will recognize the graces received and the virtues they support and develop. Above all, he will immediately recognize who is the mysterious King who reigns over the celestial City and who at the same time guides the actions of humans: no doubt, it is Jesus. His goodness imposes itself sovereignly and when one has found him, there is no other way to follow than his way of love.
6. The magic crystal
By Nina Wels, Regina Welker, 2019. Duration: 81 min. For all.
Summary : Water reserves are depleted in the forest. The magic crystal would unblock the water, but it was stolen by the bear king, Bantour. Amy the little hedgehog and Tom the squirrel decide to go on an adventure to save life in the forest.
Our opinion : This very colorful 3D cartoon is adapted from a success of German children’s literature, from 1956. The theme of respect for nature then pleaded by the author Sebastian Lybeck is recalled by the authors of the film with even more force in the time for ecology. But without strong didacticism and emphasizing above all the virtues of courage and friendship of the little hedgehog and the squirrel, during exciting and fun adventures that will delight children.
7. The pig, the fox and the windmill
By Erick Oh, 2018. Duration: 50 mins. For all.
Summary : A little pig and his father live on top of a hill threatened by a dangerous black cloud. To repel him, the father builds a windmill. The little pig finds himself alone, but is taken in by a family of foxes.
Our opinion : Made by Korean artists living in the United States, with deliciously innocent imagery, this softly colored cartoon is a series of varied, sometimes surreal adventures. From the age of 4, children will be enchanted by these ten seemingly innocuous stories, which can sometimes be serious, and will immediately become attached to the characters.
8. Tales of the Night
By Michel Ocelot, 2011. Duration: 1h24 min. For all.
Summary : Every evening, a girl, a boy and an old technician meet in a small cinema that seems abandoned. They have fun playing tales, drawn from traditions around the world.
Our opinion : Michel Ocelot, one of the greats of French animation, is the author of six stories in Chinese shadows which keep the expression of the faces, on very colorful backgrounds. The word is almost as important as the image. Pure beauty, as well as reflections on major themes such as friendship, love and death.
9. Funny birds
By Wayne Thornley, 2012. Duration: 1h23mn. For all.
Summary : Kai, an intrepid young falcon, can no longer bear his solitary life in Africa or the advice of his father. He takes off…
Our opinion : For their first animated feature, South African studios Triggerfish offer a visual dazzle that 3D serves wonderfully. The shimmering colors and high-flying numbers are a delight. The story, between a father’s guilt and a son’s bravery, certainly has an air of déjà vu, but it distills beautiful life lessons.
10. Little Gruffalo
By Johannes Weiland, 2011. Duration: 43mn. For all.
Summary : Three short cartoons precede “Le Petit Gruffalo” (27 mins). We learn how little Gruffalo defied the paternal ban to go in search of the evil mouse.
Our opinion : After the success of “Gruffalo” (2011), two new animators adapt the characters of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler to the screen. It’s the same kind humor, the same surprising poetry, served by refined decorations (of snow) and amusing characters, with excellent voice actors (Zabou Breitman). Another perfect success.