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Kimstim presents
Princes and Princesses (Princes et Princesses) (2000)

"Look, you're a pig, I'm a cow. What could be worse?"
- Princess (Arlette Mirape)

Review By: Mark Zimmer  
Published: July 21, 2008

Stars: Arlette Mirape, Philipe Cheytion
Other Stars: Yves Barsaco, François Voisin
Director: Michel Ocelot

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (some rude humor)
Run Time: 01h:04m:23s
Release Date: July 29, 2008
UPC: 698452206332
Genre: animation

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A+ AB-B D-

DVD Review

Lotte Reininger's The Adventures of Prince Achmed, with its amazing animation of paper silhouettes, was a true revelation about the possibilities of the medium that were already being recognized in the 1920s. Acclaimed animator Michel Ocelot tries his hand at the same style of work (though not necessarily using the same primitive tools as Reininger).

The film tells the stories of six princes and/or princesses in various settings. The framing story is itself a flight of imagination as two young animators (Arlette Mirape and Philipe Cheytion), working under Yves Barsaco, design the stories and costumes that will be involved in each. A mechanism transforms each of them into the characters of the story, who then proceed to act out the tales, which have a distinct fairy tale feel. The first story, The Princess of Diamonds, is a traditional quest tale about a cursed princess who has been frozen into place until someone comes along who can retrieve the 111 diamonds that have fallen from her necklace in the time allottedóbut anyone who fails will be turned into an ant. This episode offers some gorgeous moments, particularly of the diamonds sparkling against the grass. Ancient Egypt is the setting for the second tale, The Fig Boy, as Hatshepsut, a female, is greeted by a young boy who offers a gift each day of a fig ripening in the dead of winter. But the pharaoh's jealous intendant is determined to win the queen's favor, and her return gifts for himself. This episode includes some of the best characterization in the picture, with the paper silhouette of the pharaoh offering palpable delight at the flavor of the fig.

The Sorceress is an amusing tale about patience, as a king offers the hand of his daughter to whomever can enter the impregnable castle of a sorceress. The endless methods that the other competitors try to storm the castle are highly creative, and the animation of flames and the like is quite effective. The Old Lady's Coat is a story about 19th century Japan, which uses the designs of Hokusai to excellent effect. In this story, an old widow with a fine coat is taken for a ride by a robber, but the robber finds that the old lady is more than he bargained for as she forces him to carry her on his back, and adding insult to injury she recites her poetry at him. The segment has a good deal of the delicate work seen in Prince Achmed and it's often breathtakingly beautiful. The Cruel Queen and the Fabulo Trainer is a brief but effective tale of the year 3000 centering around the singing creature called a Fabulo, and a trainer who bets his life that before the end of the day he will be with the Queen.

The final segment is Prince and Princess, a quite hilarious take on the story of the frog prince. Reminded that a kiss turned a frog into a prince, the princess finds out that her kiss turns a prince into a frog, and things quickly deteriorate from there as the two progress through an ever funnier succession of creatures as they desperately try to kiss their way back to human form. The detail of the silhouettes here is particularly dazzling. Better than the other segments, it captures the handmade yet incongruously baroque flavor that makes Prince Achmed such a delight. Thoroughly enjoyable for young and old, the main detraction for the younger set is the omission of an English language voiceover.

Rating for Style: A+
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The full frame picture is quite attractive for the most part, with good solid black levels throughout. The occasional red backgrounds seem a trifle oversaturated. The grain structure is well rendered overall, bearing up under close inspection without being sparkly. Some PAL/NTSC ghosting is visible if you step through, but it's seldom noticeable at speed. Some diagonal lines do exhibit a bit of aliasing. On the whole, it's attractive enough to satisfy the casual viewer, though it won't stand up to critical viewing.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Frenchno

Audio Transfer Review: The French audio track is very clean and the score by Christian Maire has a nicely ethereal quality that helps the fairytale atmosphere along. The sound of samisen during the Japanese episode is particularly worthy of notice. Surround activity is mostly limited to the score, with the dialogue being fairly well center-anchored.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 8 cues
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: There are no extras. Each story gets one chapter stop, which is sufficient for most purposes. The English subtitles are problematic since they're full of typographical errors, such as "present" instead of "peasant" and "miles" instead of "mills." There are no extras, which is seriously disappointing.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

A marvelous and beautifully executed series of tales that will not disappoint in either visuals or in story. Alas, there are no extras of any kind. Those who loved The Adventures of Prince Achmed will find this a more than worthy successor.


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