Azur et Asmar

Wednesday, November 3
Oechsle Hall 224

Michel Ocelot, best known for 1998’s Kirikou and the Sorceress, has proven himself to be one of the most gifted fabulists working in film today; his animated stories, though made for children, easily appeal to adults as well. Combining cut-out and CGI animation, Ocelot’s fourth animated feature tells the story of two boys, the white, blue-eyed prince Azur, and the dark-skinned Asmar, both of whom are being raised by Asmar’s mother. Separated by Azur’s father, the boys meet up again several years later in an unidentified Arab country—where Azur’s blue eyes terrify the locals, leading him to feign blindness—in order to free a magical fairy. Deftly yet subtly addressing racism, intolerance, and superstition, Azur and Asmar also dazzles with its sheer beauty: Ocelot incorporates visual elements and techniques inspired by medieval illuminations and Arabic art, including mosaics and meticulously rendered architectural details. As a primer on cultural understanding, few animated films compare with Azur and Asmar, either in storytelling method or visual beauty.
Review: “Although he is telling a simple children’s tale, Ocelot, also touches on issues of class and cultural acceptance. No matter how much wealth we are born into, the movie suggests, any one of us can easily become a struggling stranger in a strange land.”
–Jen Chaney, The Washington Post