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Ernest & Celestine
Ernest & Celestine
Directors: Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar, Benjamin Renner
Writers: Gabrielle Vincent, Daniel Pennac
Voice Cast: Forest Whitaker, Lambert Wilson, Pauline Brunner, Mackenzie Foy, Lauren Bacall, Anne-Marie Loop, Paul Giamatti, Patrice Melennec, William H. Macy, Brigitte Virtudes, Léonard Louf, Megan Mullally, Dominique Maurin, Nick Offerman, Jeffrey Wright
Synopsis: The story of an unlikely friendship between a bear, Ernest, and a young mouse named Celestine.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for some scary moments
9.5 / 10
- Great voice acting
- Very unique water paint style 2-D animation
- Great transitions between scenes
- Touching story that's executed rather well
- Interesting character designs
- Feels a bit short
Arguably one of the most beautiful animated film ever made
Although "Ernest & Celestine" won't win any brownie points for being the most marketable animated feature of last year, but it's definitely one of the most heartwarming ones ever conceived. The story is based on a series of books by Gabrielle Vincent, as it depicts a young mouse named Celestine (Mackenzie Foy) befriending a bear by the name of Ernest (Forest Whitaker).
In the story, it's forbidden for bears and mice to mingle among each other. Bears see them as nothing more than diseased ridden vermin that deserve to be living beneath them; within the sewers. Meanwhile, the mice aren't too fond of the bears either, as they see them as vicious yet gullible monsters. One of the caretakers, at the orphanage that Celestine resides in, loves to tell horror stories to the children; hence reinforcing the stereotype that bears are not to be trusted.
In fact, the only usefulness they see coming from the bears is whenever they have the opportunity to steal their baby teeth. According to the film, the elderly mice in their society depend on having their teeth replaced by a bear's baby tooth, in order to survive.
As I've watched this movie, it's obvious that this set up is a metaphor for racism. When you stop and think about it, both of their societies view the other as being inferior, while also fearing each other; even though they have little knowledge about each other's culture.
Celestine is a poor orphan mouse, who's struggling to get by in the world. She yearns to be an artist someday, but nobody supports her dream. Instead, she's pressured into becoming a dentist, as she works as intern that steals baby teeth from the bears.
As for Ernest, he's a lonely bear who lives up in the mountains away from the big city. He once had dreams to become a musician, but his hopes were squashed by reality. Nobody endorsed his dreams either, as he spends most of his days struggling to even get a bite to eat.
Through a series of unlikely events, Celestine and Ernest meet each other, and they become friends. Like most odd couples, they don't exactly get along at first, but after they spend some time together, things start to develop between the two that neither of them would've imagined. Although it's never directly stated in the film, but it's heavily implied that Celestine and Ernest love each other very much. As far as what kind of love that entails, whether it's one between lovers, friends, family or whatever. It's never made clear.. Although if I had to venture a guess, they seem have more of a father and daughter type of relationship, but that's just my take on it.
However, it's clear that both happen to be outcasts among their own kind, and it's forbidden for bears and mice to even be friends. Yet, they're happier when they're together. Without giving away too much, the story is arguably one of the most touching ones that I've ever seen in an animated feature before.
Granted, we've seen other movies play on this kind of story arc before, and this one is arguably no different than most of them. However, it's still a fairly well told story, while featuring a lot of unique and interesting characters as well.
Sadly, I can't say that I've seen the original version of this movie, as I only saw the American released dubbed version. But from what I did see, it seems like a very well executed animated feature. The voice actors played their parts rather well. In fact, the only flaw I can find in this movie is that it seems rather short, as it would've been nice to see their relationship fleshed out a bit more.
Plus, the animation is very unique in it's own charming way. As many can probably tell from the trailers, "Ernest & Celestine" is a traditional 2-D animated feature. However, what makes the film different than most 2-D cartoon movies is that "Ernest and Celestine" features the animation in a water color painting style; almost giving the film a unique look all it's own.
Not to mention the transition between scenes is simply amazing, as the water color scheme helps the transitions this movie presents flow very smoothly between scenes. Two scenes that come to mind is the one at the very beginning, and when Celestine meets Ernest for the first time. In both scenes, it starts off with a blank page, but then we see outlines slowly getting drawn to present the shape of the character in said scene; followed by splashes of color like you'd see from a water color painting. It's quite a beauty to watch, as you don't find too many great 2-D animated films that have this unique style to them anymore.
Overall, I doubt this film get a lot of recognition after being nominated for "Best Animated Feature" earlier this year at the Oscars, but it's definitely worth checking out.
© 2014 Steven Escareno