directed by Michel Ocelot
Michel Ocelot’s fairy tale is a winner in a lot of ways: the story is charming and earnest, the animation is so lush at times that it completely overshadows the elements of the film that lag a bit, and it is captivating, pure and simple. Ocelot has delved into a variety of animated mediums, from silhouette to cutout to traditional, so it stands to reason that Ocelot would utilize the ever improving realm of computer generated imagery at some point. The fairy tale is a whimsical and heartfelt story of two boys raised by an Arabic woman named Jenane, Asmar’s mother and nurse to son of nobility, Azur. The boys bicker and quarrel like true brothers, and even after time and geography have put the boys in very different places, they both long to achieve the same goal: to free and wed the Djinn Fairy of their mother’s tales. Ocelot goes for a more realistic approach instead of the often cartoonish depiction of humans found in even the finest CGI works (The Incredibles, for example), which pays off at points, but seems odd in others. But that doesn’t matter when such lavish detail in the form of the bird with the rainbow plumage, Jenane’s home and the Djinn Fairy’s fortress wash over you like candy coated dreamscapes. In some ways it is as moving as Iranian visionary Akbar Sadeghi’s animated masterpiece, Malek Korshid (Wholphin, Issue 1. Watch it now.), and anything that Michel Ocelot endeavors to complete will more than likely be something worth watching, Azur et Asmar ranks up there with his amazing Kirikou and the Sorceress. Get in the zone before you check it out.