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AZUR & ASMAR: THE PRINCES’ QUEST

Director: MICHEL OCELOT

FRANCE-SPAIN-BELGIUM • 2006 • COLOUR • DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO • 98 MIN


AZUR & ASMAR REPRESENTS FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT SO GLORIOUSLY BRIGHT THAT AUDIENCES WITH SENSITIVE EYES MAY NEED SHADES.
French writer-director-animator Michel Ocelot abandons here the hand-drawn technique and the sub-Saharan setting he explored in his Kirikou franchise to go digital and further North up the continent with an original fairy tale about two young men on a quest to find an enchanted bride. The opening reels sketch infancy to teenage years in vaguely 18th-century France of Caucasian Azur and Arab Asmar. Asmar’s Maghreb mother Jenane is the motherless Azur’s nurse. The two kids grow up like brothers, always bickering over who had the bigger slice of pie, but equally entranced by Jenane’s bedtime stories about the Fairy Djinn, a magic princess protected by beasties and perils. When Azur returns as a young man from his city education to find Jenane and Asmar have been sent away, he vows to go in search of the Fairy Djinn. A shipwreck washes him ashore in North Africa, and after various mishaps he’s reunited with Jenane and Asmar. However, Asmar is also set on finding the Fairy Djinn, and the two become rivals. . . .
Despite the once-upon-a-time setting, a modern, liberal sensibility informs the story’s plea for racial and religious tolerance, respect for women, and the virtues of cooperation and good manners. Structurally, the script by Ocelot follows in the footsteps of classic folk tales such as those found in ‘Arabian Nights’ or ‘Brothers Grimm’ compendia. The animation by Ocelot and his numerous assistants from around the world is magnificent.—Leslie Felperin, ‘Variety’.Please note that this UK-Irish release version of AZUR & ASMAR has English and Arabic dialogue.

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