Truly amazing classic tale for both children and grown-ups
This animated film is one of the best I've seen recently, and there've been quite a lot which deserve praise (Horton, Kung-fu Panda, Wall-e etc.). Of course, this one is a far cry from the 3D-technique which is increasingly becoming a tradition now. The animation is as classical as the story line, and though the narrative elements are quite well-known (the little orphan girl who gets "kidnapped"; the three robbers, scary on the outside but in fact warmhearted, the cruel, suppressive lady as head of the orphanage, etc.), they are put together in a truly genuine way to create a tale which is enchanting for children and adults alike.
The success lies in the details of both the story and the resulting composition. I must mention the music of the film, which is so classical and at the same time really original, making the whole experience just even more enjoyable; the song of the robbers fits so inherently that you have the impression that if any robber wants to seem real, they can never sing anything else. The humour is also excellent, the colours sometimes extraordinarily bright and vivid. And though this is not a tale intended to provide multiple-layer meanings to exploit, there are some deeper levels, but these are left entirely for the audience to decipher, the story doesn't force them. The details accumulate and each one manages to take the movie one step further.
It is topped by a queer, bizarre, almost surreal ending, but it is so smoothly integrated into the development of the story, that it is not in the least too scary for children - not any scarier than, for example, the animated version of Snow White and the 7 dwarfs was.
At certain moments, I was reminded of Les Triplettes de Belleville, both in terms of the animation and the slightly peculiar atmosphere of especially the orphanage scenes. And though Les Triplettes was originally made for adults (and brilliantly for that), this film is thoroughly enjoyable for children, as well. I was sitting in a room half packed with adults, half with children, and both groups were giving out hearty laughs, most of the time simultaneously.
If you want to return to your childhood world of tales, or you'd like your children to know such stories not only from bedtime readings but also from the big screen, or if you just like tales as they are by definition, I can only recommend this little gem. It's an absolute 10.
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