Animation produced in the United States is beloved around the globe, think of animated features by Disney, Pixar and DreamWorks, for example. That being said, foreign animation is getting more popular. France is one of the biggest producers of animation in Europe and a lot of French animation is getting appreciated more and more in the US. A great example is Ernest & Celestine, a 2D animated feature that’s was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 86th Academy Awards.
Celestine is a young mouse who lives in the underground world of rodents. At the orphanage where she lives, the caretaker tells scary stories about the evil nature of the bears that live in the outside world, though Celestine doubts the stories are entirely true. She loves to draw but must soon study dentistry, the occupation all rodents hold. In preparation, she must travel above ground to collect bear cubs’ lost teeth from underneath pillows. On one such occasion, the cub’s family catches Celestine in the act and chase her into a trash can where she spends the night. The next morning, a destitute and starving bear named Ernest discovers Celestine and attempts to eat her. When she convinces him not to and leads the way to a cellar full of food, an unlikely bond forms between the two. But as they soon discover, not everyone above ground or below is so accepting of their unprecedented friendship.
This movie is based on a popular book series in France from the 1980s. From the beginning of the movie till the end, I really enjoyed this movie. Everything was just really lovely: the story, the animation and the music.
The movie has watercolor backgrounds and even the characters are watercolored as well. This is one of the things that made this movie so lovely, it felt like watching a book you would read to your children before bedtime. The use of watercolor is done in a very unique way, contrary to Disney’s Lilo & Stitch where the watercolor backgrounds were so detailed you barely noticed them. In Ernest & Celestine, the watercolor feels really rough and almost like it’s coming directly out of someones sketchbook, which adds another layer to the storybook feel of the movie. The beautiful 2D animation is not cartoony at all, but more realistic and it works fine with the watercolor-and-ink look of the film.
The story of this movie is really cute. I loved it so much because most of the events were really unexpected like the little mice becoming dentists. This was something that I would’ve never thought would have been in the film when I watched the trailers, but was really original. This is a story about friendship: no one is the same but you can still become friends if you really want to. This was a great message and worked out really well. Yes, this message has been told in other animated movies before but this felt again like a new twist on it. However, I felt the end was a little rushed and it made me feel like the movie was only about 30 minutes long when it actually was about 80 minutes. But overall I think this was a really good story with a great message.
The music in this movie, composed by Vincent Courtois was really great. The music fit the movie really well and help the story moving on. It was something completely different from for example Frozen or The Croods but it worked for this movie. The music felt as if it was performed by some street musicians in Paris, which fit the mood and feel of this movie.
Overall I think Ernest & Celestine was a worthy nominee for an Oscar. The story was unique, original and fun for all ages. The animation was beautifully done and the watercolor look of the movie was so unique and beautiful that it made me feel like I was reading a storybook. If you haven’t seen this movie I’d recommend to watch it as soon as it will be available in your country because it’s a complete different movie experience than you would have with an American animated movie. I regret not seeing it in theatres because this is one of those movies that would look absolutely amazing on the big screen, so I hope you guys won’t miss that experience.