Kirikou and the Sorceress
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51 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on August 6, 2005
This is a wonderful movie that follows the adventures of Kirikou, a precocious infant who saves his village, outwits his foes, and befriends all. Born into a village apparently cursed by the Sorceress Karaba, Kirikou sets out to undo her mischief and understand the reason for her evil. Like Kate Dicamillo's character Despereaux, Kirikou is a hero who belies his small stature, using it to his advantage with brash bravado. While many of the themes - overcoming obstacles, how propoganda can be used to oppress - are universal, there is a distinct flavor of African myth and folk-tale. That being said, I am not sure if this is an authentic folk-tale, or just a well-crafted imitation of one. Either way, it is delightful.

In terms of the animation, dialog, and music, everything is top-notch. There is a slight disparity between the english-language track and the english subtitles, though nothing distracting. One note on the animation: this film is authentic to its location in Africa. That is, young children are drawn nude, and women topless. Thus, this is an authentic depiction of people of a region - think National Geographic, if you have no other reference. Thus, if natural, non-titillating depictions of semi-nudity make you uneasy (particularly if watching with your children), then you might want to pre-view this one first. That being said, there is nothing sexy here - Sailor Moon is far more over the top.

In summary, I feel that this is an excellent film and highly recommend viewing it.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
This is a wonderful film, that can be enjoyed equally by parents and children. Kirikou is a small and precocious boy who never lets prejudice get in the way of his fierce determination to protect his people from an evil sorceress. He is driven by curiosity and courage but also admits his own feelings of vulnerability; he is a wonderful example to children, a much more compelling hero than most of the whiny characters that dominate most Hollywood animation. Whether or not it is a traditional folktale, it captures the feel of many of the African folk legends I have heard, and depicts a vibrant culture that is both suffused with ordinary magic and yet deeply human. The animation of this humorous and touching film is both simple and delightful, a perfect match for the story.

What is perhaps most intriguing is that it is an example of the kind of story so prevalent among folk legends that show how traditional societies are aware of the dangers of fixed traditions and open to the possibility of new ideas. There is a longstanding prejudice within cultures based on change and "progress" that traditional cultures are backwards and unable to accommodate appropriate change -- in this story (and in fact in many traditional folk stories), this problem is faced and dealt with from an internal standpoint -- in other words, this story is about how change can be accommodated within traditional societies and how such change can be encouraged by traditional storytelling, and that such change does not require a rejection of tradition. Criticisms of dogmatism are embraced within this story, that depicts many of the tribal people as resisting inquiry and assuming they already know what is best even when their traditional methods of trying to defeat the enemy in battle are no longer working. The wise persons of this story are the young Kirikou -- too young to assume he already knows how things work and how to solve problems, and young enough to ask questions and be willing to learn from one who will actually answer his questions rather than merely brush them aside -- and his wise grandfather -- who, it is significant, has left the village to live by himself on the mountain. It is also significant that the young Kirikou's main quest is not to defeat the evil sorceress but to understand what has made her evil. It is only by understanding (and even empathizing with) the enemy that he can defeat her --an important lesson even for our own troubled times, full of ignorance and of the arrogance that assumes war (and the resistance of change even where the status quo is unsettling) is the only solution to incomprehensible threats. At its heart, this is a story about how the villagers learn to accept new wisdom, from the mouth of a child and of an elder who has gone beyond status-seeking pride.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
This two-disc set features Kirikou and the Sorceress, on one disc. The second disc holds a second treasure from Ocelot: Princes and Princesses. Unfortunately, the product page shows that only when you read the fine print on the photo of the DVD case.

Kirikou's story draws on African folk culture, a resource barely tapped in the main stream of animation. It also favors a cartoony style in representing aged sages, evil witches, deadly serpents, and lots more. It's a safe story where the little guy (very little) saves the village, and wins rewards of his own in the end. I consider this completely kid-safe, but National Geographic kinds of nudity appear throughout - that might not suit some households. Well, that's their loss, I found it charming.

The second disc, Princes and Princesses, represents thoroughly modern imagery and imagination. It also pays homage to the oldest extant feature-length animation, The Adventures of Prince Achmed. The silhouetted characters in this draw directly from that older movie, even if the characters and magic gadget are quite contemporary.

A half-dozen vignettes form this feature, with a little story-telling glue between them. In that outer story, a boy and girl share a fantasy. Then, with the help of the gadget, they enter into it. One of those stories has the flavor of a Japanese folktale, another shows the magic kiss gone terribly, humorously, and repeatedly wrong, another shows a science fiction variation on the quest for the princess's hand, and so on. They're all easy to enjoy, but that tribute to animation history adds a pleasant overtone as well.

-- wiredweird
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on July 2, 2005
I just saw this movie and found the experience to be a breath of fresh air! The animation is gorgeous (the backgrounds reminded me of the Vienna Secession), the character designs are interesting, the content is strong, the music is excellent, and the movie manages to keep the feel of story-telling.

I highly recommend this film!!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2009
The French Director Michel Ocelot invited me to meet and interview him in San Francisco on March 4, 2009, when his new movie "Azur & Asmar" opened that week in SF. He enjoyed reading my published review of "Azur & Asmar" (the best animated movie I've ever watched!). I attended the screening of his earlier film "Kirikou and the Sorceress" and interviewed him after the screening. Meeting director Ocelot is an experience of a lifetime!

You can check out my photos with director Michel Ocelot and all my movie reviews here:

[..]
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Movie Review: Kirikou and the Sorceress by Perry S. Chen (9 years old)

The movie "Kirikou and the Sorceress" is a monumental journey of an infant boy in a small African village, which is terrorized by Karaba the Sorceress. It is a story of love, courage, perseverance, and heroism.
The Sorceress is taking away the villagers' jewels and is thought to eat the men who dare to fight her. She lives in a temple guarded by robots called "fetishes."

In the village, an expecting young mother has a baby who is impatient to be born in her womb. The mother said: "A baby who can talk to his mother in her stomach can give birth to himself." Then the baby did crawl out of the mother's womb, wash himself, and name himself "Kirikou." He finds out that his uncle is going to fight Karaba the Sorceress.

Kirikou is fast and agile. In a flash, he gets a hat and runs to his uncle who puts on the hat and then the hat talks! It is Kirikou! He helps the uncle attack and defend himself from the fetishes. Karaba orders the fetish to get the hat that called him "Uncle", but the hat runs away!

The village children also fall prey to the Sorceress. They were captured by a Karaba's dugout and a walking tree. But Kirikou thwarted the Sorceress's attempts with wisdom and courage.

Kirikou has a persistent question: Why is the Sorceress evil? There is only one man who knows the answer: Kirikou's grandfather, the wise man of the mountains. Kirikou travels through a narrow tunnel underneath Karaba's temple to meet his grandfather. Along the way, Kirikou makes friends with a family of squirrels whom he saved from a ravenous skunk. The squirrels give him food and presents.

To escape from the piercing glare of the watchful "look-out fetish," Kirikou dresses up as a bird. But a real bird bigger than him tries to peck his feathers off, revealing a clump of naked skin! The fetish is very intrigued. The squirrels see their friend in peril, so they defended Kirikou by aggressively baring their teeth, arching their backs, and thrashing their tails to the big bird. The fetish would have been suspicious if it saw a bird clinging to another bird with its wings!

Kirikou finally got to his grandpa's mountain paradise. He told Kirikou secrets about Karaba the Sorceress and an animal drinking up the water from the cursed spring. It is a creature warped by greed.
With one magical act, Kirokou drains Karabar's powers and something magical happens to him too!!!

This movie is truly SPECIAL because I got to meet the one-of-a-kind Director Michel Ocelot at the screening. I got to interview him in San Francisco! Monsieur Ocelot is a very enchanting man and I would love to learn more about him and his childhood in Africa. Meeting him is truly a MAGICAL experience!

All the village women in the movie were dressed in the African traditional way with a loincloth and bare torso. And young children stayed without clothes, a natural thing to do, as the temperature was high. Monsieur Ocelot shared the stories behind the movie release: None of the American distributors wanted to release the movie. "They would have if I had put bras and pants everywhere, and ruining the honesty of this African tradition," said Monsieur Ocelot during the audience Q&A session.

I saw Monsieur Ocelot's new movie "Azur & Asmar" in Feb 09, and found many similarities and differences when comparing and contrasting the two movies. In "Azur & Asmar", the main characters are two boys of different race. In "Kirikou and the Sorceress", the character is a squirrel-sized boy. Azur & Asmar both want to liberate the Djinn Fairy, while Kirikou just wants to help get rid of the evil from the Sorceress. The setting in Azur & Asmar is an Arabian land, while the setting for Kirikou is an African village.

Both movies are enchanting and magical, and both have a quest. All key characters are brave and clever. You also need to, in both movies, enter many doors before you succeed. I noticed that both movies have a wise old man, and last, they both have responsible, loving, and nurturing mothers.

In "Kirikou and the Sorceress," small has small's advantages. But most of all, courage, perseverance, and wisdom are the keys to the magic door of success.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 7, 2003
My toddler loves it, but so do my wife and I. It's a profound, gentle, and often witty retelling of a West African tale about a heroic little boy who saves his village from a malign sorceress, and redeems her as well. The animation is elegant and expressive; the color in particular is lovely. You won't find the tiresomely "realistic" CGI or overstuffed Disney setpieces to which we've become resigned; you won't miss them. Finally, the characters all speak perfect French!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
This is a beautiful and simply captivating video, which will be able to hold the attention of young and old alike. As a counselor, I will be able to use it to explore concepts of family roles, individual values, and resiliency.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This is a wonderful film, that can be enjoyed equally by parents and children. Kirikou is a small and precocious boy who never lets prejudice get in the way of his fierce determination to protect his people from an evil sorceress. He is driven by curiosity and courage but also admits his own feelings of vulnerability; he is a wonderful example to children, a much more compelling hero than most of the whiny characters that dominate most Hollywood animation. Whether or not it is a traditional folktale, it captures the feel of many of the African folk legends I have heard, and depicts a vibrant culture that is both suffused with ordinary magic and yet deeply human. The animation of this humorous and touching film is both simple and delightful, a perfect match for the story.

What is perhaps most intriguing is that it is an example of the kind of story so prevalent among folk legends that show how traditional societies are aware of the dangers of fixed traditions and open to the possibility of new ideas. There is a longstanding prejudice within cultures based on change and "progress" that traditional cultures are backwards and unable to accommodate appropriate change -- in this story (and in fact in many traditional folk stories), this problem is faced and dealt with from an internal standpoint -- in other words, this story is about how change can be accommodated within traditional societies and how such change can be encouraged by traditional storytelling, and that such change does not require a rejection of tradition. Criticisms of dogmatism are embraced within this story, that depicts many of the tribal people as resisting inquiry and assuming they already know what is best even when their traditional methods of trying to defeat the enemy in battle are no longer working. The wise persons of this story are the young Kirikou -- too young to assume he already knows how things work and how to solve problems, and young enough to ask questions and be willing to learn from one who will actually answer his questions rather than merely brush them aside -- and his wise grandfather -- who, it is significant, has left the village to live by himself on the mountain. It is also significant that the young Kirikou's main quest is not to defeat the evil sorceress but to understand what has made her evil. It is only by understanding (and even empathizing with) the enemy that he can defeat her --an important lesson even for our own troubled times, full of ignorance and of the arrogance that assumes war (and the resistance of change even where the status quo is unsettling) is the only solution to incomprehensible threats. At its heart, this is a story about how the villagers learn to accept new wisdom, from the mouth of a child and of an elder who has gone beyond status-seeking pride.

I'm very excited to see that while the dvd version of this film is currently out-of-print, it is still available on demand. I strongly recommend it for lovers of traditional storytelling, delightful animation and intriguing tales of heroism. Parents should be aware that in spite of the magical elements the animators aimed to depict traditional African ways of life accurately - which means that the women's torsos are not always covered up. For open-minded parents and children of all ages.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 7, 2010
Both of these DVDs are excellent. Great for families who want cool characters, good animation, challenges that are overcome with perserverance and humor and love -- just all around great. Great mother character in Kirikou, too. Adults can watch many times and get so much out of it each time. Perfect for 3 years and up. Both are so rich. Princes and Princesses are fables with morals and neat to talk with kids about when they are done. Although only in french with english subtitles, adults can read the story once and then the kids can watch after that and know all that is going on. Great to talk with kids about later, too, especially ones who ask "Why" a lot.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 27, 2005
I bought this movie years ago in France. Ever since, I've been checking amazon every few months to see if its out. It's made my year that I can finnaly loan it to my American freinds. It is one of my very favorite movies, everyone should see it at least once.
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