Azur and Asmar

Rated NR

In theory, I love cartoons, because you can do anything with them. In practice, I hate them because they’re overrun by bulbous funny animals and boring, computer-animated backgrounds that show all the creativity of a linoleum countertop. But director/artist Michel Ocelot is not only named after the coolest of the small, wild cats; he also has taken the genre back to its ’60s roots with richly variegated, dazzlingly tiled backgrounds that recall the geometric designs in mosques, the cutout artwork of Eric Carle and the dreams that topologists have when dosed with psilocybin and sympathy. The story is a classic fairy tale: Two boys, one an Arab, the other French, are raised together in the house of the French boy’s merchant father, but nursed by the Arabic boy’s mother. Separated when they are teens, they reunite on a quest to find a magical princess by completing dangerous tasks while being chased by evil bandits. It’s good stuff, and it never insults your intelligence nor winks at its audience, but the best part is the art. Definitely worth seeing for an example of how the medium can be employed to fullest effect.

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