Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Maggie 2010: A Fortuitous Accident

#63. Kirikou and the Wild Beasts

This animated film gets to jump a huge slew of movies on my review list, because holy crap it is awesome. I got the wrong movie by accident, but what a fortuitous accident!

Kirikou and the Wild Beasts is a midquel to Kirikou and the Sorceress, following the further adventures of Kirikou, a boy from West African mythology who is born able to walk, talk, and solve his village's numerous crises. In this midquel, these crises surround a struggle with feeding the village: after irrigating the land, a wild animal damages the garden, and after the animal's been dealt with there's still the matter of finding food by other means. Then Kirikou goes on an unexpected adventure, and after his return all the women in the village fall sick. The marvel of this film is truly the story-telling: in frank tones and with clear demonstrative imagery, Kirikou... explains precisely what techniques are being applied to any given situation, and why. For instance, after Kirikou leads the Black Hyena away from the village's garden, he uses a beehive to save himself from the Hyena, and then goes back to the site of this incident to gather the scattered honey (so nothing goes to waste) and bind together the fragments of the beehive, so that when the bees return they can finish repairing the structure and ensure more honey in that region in the future. In a similar fashion, the film gently demonstrates the importance of personal responsibility, asking questions, handling unknown objects with care, and applying democratic practices that do not ignore the input of even the community's smallest members.

In short, I finish this film wishing desperately that more pieces of such a highly intelligent, informative calibre were made available to more children. Sadly, I imagine that this film's bare-breasted women and nearly naked men would horrify many North American parents. Such a reaction is really a tragedy: personally, I can't wait to share the riches of this piece with my young nephew... the moment he's old enough to follow the subtitles.

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