Monday, December 15, 2008

On Saturday morning I went to a free screening of the new film The Tale of Despereaux. OK, so it's a kids' movie, but free is free. It also had a nice tie-in for anglophiles, as about 1/2 of the voice cast was British. Some of the actors included Tracey Ullman, Robbie Coltraine, Emma Watson and Charles Shaughnessy. The story took place in the city of Dor, and about half the inhabitants (both 2 and 4 footed) spoke with British accents and the other half spoke with American accents. I suppose the target audience of the film won't question the inconsistency!

The story concerns creatures that don't conform to the accepted roles that they are supposed to play. Roscuro the rat loves the sunshine while Despereaux the mouse refuses to cower and scurry. After a tragedy involving Roscuro and soup, the King of Dor bans all soup, rats and joy from his kingdom. His daughter, the Princess, is locked away in her tower longing for sunshine and happiness. It is up to the little mouse Despereaux (who is tiny even in mouse terms) to take on the scary rat underworld, the miserable king, and his own disapproving mouse society in order to put things right.

The movie is just adorable, and the computer graphics work is amazing. There are, of course, funny moments as well as touching moments. There are some scenes which might be scary for younger children, but none of the children in the theater where I saw the film seemed particularly upset.

The main objection I have with the film is that the dog lobby has infiltrated a children's film and made an anti-feline statement. Again. Why is it that basically any children's film made over the past 20 years has a cat as the villain? (Babe, anyone?) In this film, there are plenty of villains to go around, but the cat is the biggest and scariest of all. Naturally, there is a dog in the film also, but it is seen as basically cheerful and brainless. Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but a much more positive portrayal than that of the evil, skulking cat. Honestly, have these movie makers ever lived with a cat? They can barely get up the energy to rouse themselves long enough to eat, let alone be cunning and evil enough to plot and scheme for the downfall of other creatures. Let's give cats a break Hollywood!
Final Verdict for The Tale of Despereaux: Three Gherkins, for being a beautifully rendered fairy tale about staying true to yourself


Anonymous said...

You're right Lisanne, there is an ingrained prejudice of cats. They are either evil or just plain up to no good. I've lived with cats my entire life and find them to be loving long as you treat them right. I have a dog too so I can say that each of them have traits that are loveable and the capacity to be as mean as a snake.
I think Desperaux is adorable.

Lisanne624 said...

I think most cats these days are so pampered that they don't feel the need to do much of anything but sit back and bask in the adoration! :)

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I'm a librarian who is interested in all things British. I try to visit London as often as possible, and am always planning my next trip. I lived in Sweden for a few years with my Swedish husband, so the occasional Swedish reference may occur . . .

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