Who needs to translate when you can come up with your own dialogue?
Here's an interesting little documentary on the history of Le Manege Enchante aka The Magic Roundabout. The story of the people behind the show is presented by way of different kinds of animation and with some really unusual choices of interpretation. In fact, like the original Roundabout, it's a bit of a trip. It begins with a slightly too long scene lifted from the 2005 computer animated movie but just when you are beginning to wonder where is this going, we delve into the origin of the show and learn all about creator Serge Danot, who is represented here by a mixture of stop motion and traditional animation. His wife Martine and daughter Patricia (the voice of Margote aka Florence in English) explain how the early episodes were filmed on the kitchen table at home.
Aardman animator and Magic Roundabout fan Peter Lord gets an impressive introduction of his own (including homages to his other heroes Ray Harryhousen and Terry Gilliam) and he gets to explain about the great success the series enjoyed in England, where narrator Eric Thompson literally made each episode his own by throwing out the script and interpreting the images as he saw fit. In light of this situation, I must say that perhaps it isn't such a crime after all that an American version of the 2005 film was produced featuring an almost completely different voice cast, lots of new ad libs and even fart jokes. But now that it turns out Eric Thompson did the same thing to the French version, it all seems completely verified. After all, it's tradition!
French television pioneer Jean-Michel Biard, who is still alive and able to participate in this documentary doesn't get an animated history for his troubles, just a silly frame which then turns out to be a giant toy slot machine. And then a French shrink, Serge Tisseron, tries to explain how Le Manege Enchante was a complete product of it's time, when 'a rural society dominated by farmers was changing into a new society still that was still taking shape'. I'm sorry, he completely lost me there. Patricia Crépin doesn't make things better by saying the satirical elements of her father show were like an early version of 'Spitting Image'. At least that's what the English voice over claims she's saying, she might be referring to something completely different in her native tongue. When they get back to the present and mention the new movie again (having mostly skipped over the 1990 revival), the documentary abruptly ends with some completely out of place cyberpunk music and credits. Still, it was very informative for the most part.
7 out of 10
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