With Christmas fast approaching, the cinema is offering, in the same week, two animated films particularly aimed at young audiences. Two delightful (European) alternatives to the superheroic productions of studios across the Atlantic. One, produced in 2D ( Sirocco and the Kingdom of Air Currents ), takes two little girls on a long journey to the confines of a phantasmagorical world full of poetry. The other, a clever mix of 2D and 3D ( The Inséparables ), orchestrates a crowd of characters around a bouncing odyssey in the streets, parks and sewers of New York.
Very different in inspiration and style, these two feature films have the common point of glorifying the power of the imagination. The first by illustrating the magical dimension of books; the second by giving life to the chivalrous desires of a poor puppet confined, within his theater, to the role of jester.
The title of Benoît Chieux’s second feature film, released ten years after the release of his previous film, Aunt Hilda! (co-directed with Jacques-Rémy Girerd), makes no mystery. The wind, the breath, the storm are at the heart of the story of Sirocco and the kingdom of air currents . A kingdom towards which, while reading, Juliette (4 years old) and her older (but more timid) sister, Carmen (8 years old), are suddenly drawn into the world. Like Lewis Carroll’s little Alice, the two little girls discover an imaginary place populated by strange creatures, flying crocodiles, animated figurines, little witches.
In the town with its elaborate towers that welcome them, they will have to do battle with the mayor, who wants to marry Carmen to his ugly, toad-like son. They will meet Selma, a singer with a divine voice, their true ally in finding Sirocco (held prisoner by the storm), the only one who can bring them back to the real world. Only, an evil wind threatens which could destroy everything…
Benoît Chieux’s film depicts movements of air masses which swell, color and darken the clouds whose course accelerates. It suggests, through the drawing and music of composer Pablo Pico, the breath that animates us each. He makes a majestic Sirocco reign over his flat areas of color – long dress with large panels speckled with white polka dots, blue eyes and hair sheltered by a large hat –, around which a multitude of small characters move, whose variety contributes to enhance the slightly outdated aesthetic of the film. Which, in September, received the audience prize at the Annecy Festival.
You have 45% of this article left to read. The rest is reserved for subscribers.