Kirkiou and the Sorceress

Michel Ocelot, France/Belgium, 1998, 74 minutes

Take a break from rubbish straight-to-DVD Disney sequels and watch this wonderful animated film set against the amazing landscapes of West Africa. However this time there are no characters voiced by white mainstream American film stars and instead of Broadway show tunes the soundtrack is made up of a collective of distinctly African beats and grooves provided by Senegalese music legend Youssou NíDour.

The film opens with the birth of tiny hero Kirikou, who is born walking, talking and with a strong will of his own. He soon discovers that the evil sorceress Karaba and her fetish minions have dried up the local spring and apparently devoured all the village menfolk. This triggers little Kirikouís quest and he embarks on a perilous adventure to confront Karaba, discover the source of her evil and save his village.

The enchanting and loveable Kirikou dominates the film but a host of other memorable and well-crafted characters play an important role Ė ranging from the human (the constantly grumbling village elder, Kirikouís wise grandfather, the fiery Karaba) to the non-human (the Fetishes and Kirikouís ridiculously adorable animal friends.)

Whatís refreshing about this film is how it is unapologetically African in its style and scope. The beautifully earthy images in the film are of a kind that is totally absent in contemporary American animation. Indeed upon its release certain film distributors were so offended by the natural nudity in the film that they attempted to make director Michel Ocelot airbrush pants and bras onto the relevant parts. Thanks to his sense of cultural awareness won out.

Review by Flippanta Kulakiewicz
Written for EUFS Programme Autumn 2007