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Review: ‘Ernest And Celestine’

Hand Drawn Art Wins Over State Of The Art Technology

The French-Belgian co-production

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Above: The French-Belgian co-production "Ernest and Celestine" was nominated for a best animated film Oscar this year.

KPBS film critic Beth Accomando review the Oscar-nominated animated film, "Ernest and Celestine."


The French-Belgian Oscar entry "Ernest and Celestine" (opening March 28 at Landmark's La Jolla Village Theaters) lost its bid for best animated earlier this month. It was robbed.

The Oscars make me so mad. This year the Academy gave it’s little gold statue for best animated film to the homegrown "Frozen" from Disney, bypassing the glorious Japanese anime "The Wind Rises," and the enchanting French-Belgian co-production "Ernest and Celestine." "Frozen" may employ state of the art technology but it’s storytelling creaks with tired Disney tropes about feisty girls and infuriatingly stupid sidekicks. In contrast, these foreign entries serve up lush artistry that reminds you of the particular magic hand drawn animation conjures up.

Companion Viewing

"The Triplets of Belleville" (France/Belgium, 2003)

"A Town Called Panic" (Belgium/France, 2009)

"Pom Poko" (Japan, 1994)

"Ernest and Celestine" takes its cue from a series of Belgian children’s books and serves up a tale of tolerance and rebellion. In the world of the film there are only bears and mice. Bears live above in the city and mice below. So when a bear named Ernest and a mouse named Celestine become friends, well it can only lead to trouble.

There’s a moral to the story but it’s delivered with grace and humor, rather than condescension and heavy-handedness. It’s a children’s film in the best sense of the word because it appeals to our sense of wonder and delight.

Thankfully, Landmark will be showing "Ernest and Celestine" in its original French as well as English dubbed. If this elegant treasure with its vintage charm doesn’t put a smile on your face well all I can say is you must be frozen.

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