KIRIKOU AND THE SORCERESS is a great animated film in the spirit of Hayao Miyazaki. French Director Michel Ocelot chose the legend of the little Kiriku, which he heard in his childhood, when he lived in Afrika. In a little village, a pregnant woman hears her unborn son asking: "Mother, give me to birth!" After the initial surprise, she says calmly that if he can talk, he can be born by himself. The tiny boy, basically a super fast baby, crawls out of her, stands and says: "I am Kiriku." He's told then that almost all men there, including his father, were devoured by Karaba, an evil sorceress who oppresses the rest of the tribe. After saving the other children and his own uncle from her and making the local fountain run again, Kiriku runs off to see the old Wiseman in the mountain, the only person who knows how to defeat the witch.
In his movie, Michel Ocelot tried to reproduce the Afrikan Art-style. The result is gorgeous and plenty of colour. The animation is a bit simple, but it's still beautiful to look at. It's mainly a 2-D animated movie with some use of CGI during Kiriku's Flash-like running. The women's exposed breasts and kids' nudity might shock conservatives, yet they're shown naturally, without malice. And it's in Africa, so people always accept that it's okay to see nude Africans a la National Geographic, but not nudity in other countries, which is hypocritical. The main reason this movie didn't get released in the USA is the nudity. And we all know what a ridiculous prude country the USA is when it comes to nudity, but violence is okay.
As in Hayao Miyazaki movies, the protagonist doesn't have to kill the villain to reach his goal. The movie's message is that cruelty produces more cruelty, and that we should learn to forgive - since we aren't so great ourselves.
The African-French music is excellent as well, with an unforgettable theme song that you will be humming to yourself after the end of the movie.
This Kirikuo character has franchise all written over it in a good way of course - a la Tintin or Asterix. The director has already filmed another Kiriku adventure, KIRIKOU ET LES BÊTES SAUVAGES, and was just released on French DVD, but no English subtitles. Hopefully, the same Region 1 company will release this one too.
The Region 1 NTSC DVD is not bad, but could have been better when comparing it to the much better French PAL DVD. The dvd is non-anamorphic letterboxed and looks okay when zooming in to fill your HDTV. If you zoom it in, lines will be unavoidable, so that's the only problem with the DVD. But at least it's filmed in widescreen and we weren't given a full screen pan and scan. And there is ghosting when characters move very fast. The audio is very good and generous. It has French (with removable English subtitles) and English audio, supposedly both recorded in Dobly Surround. But the English totally sounded like it was mixed as DD 5.1, especially since the Tiawanese and French DVDs have DD 5.1 surround options, and because the English audio was louder and subwoofer was kicking in. The English version is excellent, even better than the original French version. There are a few extras like a Color game for kids, and some bios, a trailer is missing and would have been nice. The French DVD of course is probably more loaded.
Excellent touching film. It's a must buy, and totally entertaining for kids and adults!
DVD VIDEO: 6.5
DVD AUDIO: 8