Tales of the NightCultureCinemaMovie reviews
Tales of the Night is the latest offering from BAFTA award winning (The Three Inventors) director/animator Michel Ocelot. The film is stylistically similar to many of Ocelot’s previous outputs – 2D animation in the style of shadow puppetry. However, this time the film has undergone stereoscopic 3D treatment.
Tales of the Night is comprised of six short stories inspired by folk tales from around the world and uses three story tellers in a theatre as a framing device. The different sections of the film tell the stories of a werewolf, entering the country of the dead, the city of gold, a boy and his magic drum, the boy who never lied and transmogrification of a loved one.
One of the most striking things about Tales of the Night is that it does not seem to know who it is aimed at. The simplistic and poorly written nature of the various plots gives one the impression that the movie was made for screening to very young children in school. However, the animation style is unlikely to hold the interest of anyone young enough to forgive the narrative faults. An example of the ludicrous script is when one character claims to have thrown a necklace down the deepest well in the kingdom, thus putting it beyond reach. No sooner do we learn this than another character enters telling us that she has just retrieved the necklace with relative ease.
It would seem that Tales of the Night is going to be most widely released with English language dubbing, as opposed to the original French cast with English subtitles. The English voice talent used in the film seems to have been collected from actors that failed auditions to get on to BBC radio dramas like The Archers. When this is coupled with some insultingly simplistic dialogue, the whole movie takes on an amateurish feel. With lines such as: “I don’t speak Crow, but the Bird Fairy is fluent”, Tales of the Night will elicit groans or giggles in anyone over the age of ten.
The decision to make the film in 3D seems to have been entirely misguided. The stereoscopic process serves to blur the background detail and is wholly unnecessary within the confines of the shadow puppet style of animation. It was not until the final story that any visuals warranted stereoscopy and those that did felt shamelessly tacked on and clashed with the traditional style of animation.
While the style of animation is interesting and at times quite involving, over the 87-minute running time the novelty factor wears off. It is a nice change to see traditional animation methods used, or at least inspiring animation in the 21st century, but this doesn’t lessen the blow of poor voice acting and overly diegetic script. Tales of the Night seems directly aimed at a very young audience and will offer little for those that are not.
Watch the trailer for Tales of the Night here