Friday Film Review: Princes et Princesses
Princes et Princesses (2000)
Genre: Animation/Fairy Tales
Despite the fact that this is animation and about fairy tales, it is not a film I would recommend for children – that is unless they speak French. It’s a French film and thus has subtitles which rules it out if one can’t read them or understand the language. As well, the artistic style, which I loved, probably would not go over well with children since it’s almost all done in black silhouette.
The idea is that a professor and two of his students brainstorm various plots about, for the most part, princes and princesses. Or wannabe princes who woo princesses. Then the students act out the short stories. The stories range from ancient Egypt to 19th century Japan to sometime in the future. They are simple but elegant, often utilizing tried and true plots such as the prince who must meet a challenge to avoid death and free the princess from an evil monster or the simple lad who succeeds where more elaborate contenders fail. There is one story, the Japanese one, which has no romance but shows that brains and intelligence gained from a long life trump brawn any day. The final story turns the “princess who kisses a frog and turns him into a prince” story on its head while adding a touch of gender equality to the mix.
The artwork is lovely but I’ll add warnings that whoever was in charge of the subtitles fell asleep on the job a few times. An occasional phrase is mistranslated or the wrong word used (design for deign) but there isn’t enough of this to ruin the stories. Look for the hoot owl who signals the beginning of each story – he’s a doll.
The stories are short (the overall length of the film is barely over an hour) and even though the plots are fairly simplistic, they are well done. Looking for something different? You don’t think you’d like animation if it’s not Disney. You’re sick of animation if it’s Disney? Try this one.
I’ve got this at home to try this weekend! I don’t know why I’ve never watched it before. Thanks for the recommendation!
If we’re recommending silhouette, there should be Lotte Reininger – her most famous feature was The Adventures of Prince Achmed, which is romance straight out of the 1001 Nights.
@Laura Florand: Let me know what you think of it. And if your daughter likes it too.
@Estara: Thanks for the rec. I haven’t watched too many films from early cinema and thus had never heard of this. But it’s on my Netflix queue list now!
@Jayne: ^^ Well it is a silent movie, so it doesn’t get shown much on normal TV, but it’s as much a classic of its time as Metropolis.
It’s completely done by hand (and cut with scissors) in such a delicate manner that the emotions come across perfectly. The music and the art just enchant.
She did other fairy tales and even Mozart (The Magic Flute)and Bizet in this style, but Prince Achmed is the most famous.
Lotte Reiniger biography and selection of works