out of Five
Running time: 84
Tales of the Night is beautifully animated and has the occasional good moment, but the stories feel both slight and repetitive, the 3D is entirely pointless and the English dubbing does the film no favours at all.
What's it all about?
Directed by veteran French animator Michel Ocelot (Azur and Azmar), Tales of the Night is told entirely using computer-generated silhouettes and begins in a run-down cinema where an old writer and two young actors/co-writers get together to create a series of six fairy-tales.
These include: The Werewolf, in which a werewolf is trapped by the duplicitous princess he thinks has been keeping him alive; Ti Jean and Belle-Sans-Connaitre, in which a young boy finds himself in the land of the dead and has to confront a giant bee, a giant mongoose and a giant iguana in order to win the heart of Belle-Sans-Connaitre; The Chosen One and The City Of Gold, in which a young man tries to stop the inhabitants of the city of gold from sacrificing a young girl to a monster; The Boy Who Never Lied, in which a king attempts to see if a famously truthful boy who rides a talking horse can be made to lie; and The Doe-Girl and the Architect’s Son, in which a young man tries to find a fairy to turn his fiancée back into a human after she is turned into a deer by a sorcerer.
The film is beautifully animated throughout and the silhouette technique is undeniably charming, retaining the old fashioned feel of the traditional shadow-play despite its modern use of CGI (although, that said, it's not as if you can tell the difference). In addition, there are a handful of nice moments scattered throughout the film, though it's fair to say that the film is rather front-loaded, since none of the other fairy tales are as good as The Werewolf opener.
The main problem is that the tales frequently feel both slight and repetitive, with three out of the six stories featuring either talking animals or humans turned into animals. On top of that, the 3D is utterly pointless and adds nothing to the film, though at least the silhouettes are unaffected by the slight darkening involved in the 3D process.
Finally, although the film is playing in both sub-titled and dubbed versions, the English dub is best avoided as the voicework is distractingly bad, particularly the male actor, who delivers all his lines in a flat-toned, almost robotic style.
There's no denying the artistry on display here, but overall Tales of the Night isn't nearly as much fun as a film featuring a werewolf, a giant bee and a talking horse might lead you to expect.