Review: Ernest & Celestine

A modern fairy tale of a contrasting duo’s friendship and their fight against all odds to become who they are. Based on the famous series of children’s books, “Ernest & Celestine” is written and illustrated by the late Belgium author Gabrielle Vincent. A touching and inspiring story which is worth to see for all ages to admire this rare and beautiful hand drawn animation outshine the computer and 3D animations from Hollywood.

Selected by Cannes Film Festival’s Director’s Fortnight 2012, the young and talented French director Benjamin Renner’s first feature length animation film, co-directed with two well-known Belgium animation directors Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar, not only premiered in Cannes, but has also made it to many film festivals around the world and received many awards including French’s Cesar Awards for the best Animation Film 2013.

“Ernest & Celestine” is a fairy tale more than ordinary. A story about a world separated in two, above the ground, populated by the bears, and beneath the ground, inhabited by the mice. And they are each others enemies. In the miniature world underground, an orphanage’s dominating caretaker is telling a familiar bed time story to a group of little mice about a big villain bear who will eat them alive if they’re staying awake. A bed time story that we are all thrilled and traumatized by when we were little, but Celestine doesn’t believe it. When these little mice are old enough to send out to collect bear cub’s milk teeth at night as tooth fairy for a dentistry training like every other mice, Celestine, who wants to be a painter, discovers a world and a friend who is nothing like the caretaker used to tell them.

Ernest is a poor but gentle one man(bear) band musician living in the country side. He wakes up hungry one cold winter morning and decides to go into town to earn his living with his music, but the police confiscates his instrument due to a noise complaint. Ernest, bereaved of his tools to survive, is forced to seek any edible waste in a trash bin on the street and that’s where Ernest meets Celestine who, inside the bin, is hiding from the chase of tooth stealing the night before.

This very different duo help each other out. They become the best roommates and the best friends, despite the differences between them and how their societies forbid them to be together. While they’re working their way to become what they want to be, they are also fighting against the law of these two very different worlds but ironically running under very much the same system full of hypocrisy.

“Ernest & Celestine” is absolutely one of the most beautiful animations we have seen these last years. The music composed by Vincent Courtois is very cheerful and touching and the story is great for our young children to enter an openminded world. Ernest’s voice is interpreted by Adam Fietz for the Swedish version, and the original French version is interpreted by Lambert Wilson and the English version by Forest Whitaker which are both excellent and makes this film a real collectible.
– Shumaï Chou