The perfect corrective for kids weaned on Disney's TARZAN and THE LION KING: An animated tale set in Africa whose central characters are actually Africans, not singing animals. That the film, adapted from a West African folktale by French filmmaker Michel
Ocelot, is smart, funny and stunningly designed is a bonus. No sooner is precocious Kirikou born (he demands from within his mother's womb to be brought into the world) than he's out the door to join his uncle in battling Karaba, the wicked sorceress who's dried up the village's spring and
eaten nearly all its men. Karaba, a fabulously fierce creature dripping with gold and so wicked no vegetation can survive her approach, lives in a huge hut surrounded by her army of fetish dolls, tiny robotic creatures who carry out her evil bidding. But they're no match for pint-size Kirikou; the
fleet-footed infant manages to outsmart the sorceress at every turn, and is the only villager wise enough to ask the crucial question: Why is Karaba so mean and evil? A huge hit in France, this charming and wildly entertaining film originally came under fire when prudish distributors
objected to Ocelot's frank treatment of his female character's nudity (he resisted suggestions to paint bras onto the naturally attired West African women). So if discreet, non-gratuitous nudity isn't an issue, you're in for a real treat. Ocelot forgoes the razzle-dazzle of 3D, computer-generated
animation and turns instead to West African painting, sculpture and fabric for layout, character design and the film's gorgeous color palette. Best of all, Ocelot offers up an authentic African soundtrack by the great Senegalese pop star Youssou N'Dour instead of the overblown song stylings of an
Elton John or Phil Collins. Don't even think of missing it.
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