Azur & Asmar (France/Belgium/Spain/Italy; 99 min.)

directed by: Michel Ocelot
starring: Cyril Mourali; Karim M'Riba; Hiam Abbass; Patrick Timsit; Rayan Mahjoub
Azur et Asmar

Thom says: "AZUR & ASMAR was the 1st of the new screeners that I watched and it’s always cool to start off with a winner. God bless Jeff Pike for being responsible for this fabulous service!

"While I had to work into my 'kid' mode, once I did I was overwhelmed by the great artistry that went into the making of this remarkable animation film. It ended up being my 2nd favorite animation film ever after SPIRITED AWAY. The animation was clear, precise, with bright, primary colours that eventually brought a form of ecstasy to this viewer. There were lessons to be learned, characters to root for, a firm moral compass that will truthfully guide younger viewers, and a great sense of comedy as well. The story involves two boys, one a rich, bratty kid (Azur), the other a son (Asmar) of the nanny who influences the young heir. After Azur is sent off to boarding school the ogre of a father unceremoniously fires the nanny. Years later, after finishing his education the Azur goes off seeking a djin faerie in a far-off land, where he once again comes across his old nanny whose circumstances have vastly changed for the better. Azur has had to pretend he is blind because his blue eyes terrify the locals, due to a terrible superstition. Azur and his old pal Asmar eventually go off separately to finish the quest amid much danger & trials. There’s a quirky young princess that gets involved as well. The fantastical story is superbly enhanced by lush presentation. The last 15 minutes are truly spectacular. I can’t recommend this enough. 5 cats"

Barbara says: "Thom's review was perfect.  The visual experience of this animated film is spectacular.  5 cats"
Diane says: "After watching MEDICINE FOR MELANCHOLY, we were up for lighter fare.
How about an animated kids' film about princes and a quest? Foiled: AZUR AND ASMAR opens with a brown-skinned woman nursing a very white, blue-eyed, blond boy at one breast and a black-haired, brown-skinned boy at the other. Azur and Asmar, raised like brothers, are separated by Azur's father when it's time to recognize that one is master and one is servant (and a foreigner to boot). The two meet again as young men on the same quest.

"Forget AVATAR! The animation is extraordinary. It is so beautiful that sometimes I screamed, other times laughed with delight. One review called the film's colors 'scaldingly bright.' It's true. Director Michel Ocelot's style uses moving flat colored shapes--like a picture book by Giles Laroche. It nicely accommodates both the swooping brillance of a giant bird of paradise (great on Mary's big screen!) and the delicate patterns on Arab palace walls.

'Maybe everyone will have one section they feel is too long: the boyhood hijinks, the dragged-out ending. The quest itself is thankfully brief. The moral, nicely blunt for children, is that xenophobia and racism are bad. Some of the dialogue is very funny for
grown-ups. The character of Crapoux, Azur's guide, is entertainingly arrogant despite his pennilessness. AZUR's ending turns stereotypes upside down. What would Micah think?

"French dialogue is dubbed into English; Arabic dialogue is subtitled. 4 cats."