Jul 15, 2014

Review: Kirikou et les hommes et les femmes [Kirikou and the Men and Women] (2012)

Fourteen years after Kirikou et la Sorcière charmed audiences with its unique animation and reliance on real West African folklore, Michel Ocelot brings us a third entry in the Kirikou film series. Like
Kirikou et les bêtes sauvages, it's also an anthology of episodes that take place during the events of Kirikou et la Sorcière. This time the number of episodes is up to five and funnily enough that makes it the longest film in the whole series when the two other films last a little over an hour each.

I can understand why Ocelot would want to follow this kind of midquel format though. At the end of Kirikou et la Sorcière, Kirikou is magically turned into a grown man and Karaba turns good. I'm sure that most audiences want to see Kirikou as a tiny little boy and they also want to see Karaba being all mean and evil. It's definitely the safe decision and the right one I think.


Genre: animation, adventure
Directed by: Michel Ocelot
Produced by: Didier Brunner, Jacques Bled, Ivan Rouvreure
Written by: Michel Ocelot, Bénédicte Galup, Susie Morgenstern, etc
Music by: Thibault Agyeman
Running time: 88 minutes
Production company: Les Armateurs, Mac Guff Ligne, France 3 Cinéma, etc
Distributed by: Studio Canal, Cinéart
Country: France
Language: French
Budget: €6,900,000
Box office: N/A

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Romann Berrux, Awa Sene Sarr




In the first story, a woman in the village has her house burnt down for having disobeyed Karaba (Awa Sene Sarr). She isn't given permission to build a new one and spends the night with Kirikou (voice: Romann Berrux) and his mother. The second story is about the elder of the village going missing one night and Kirikou has to find him. Following this, the third story features a visit from a lost Tuareg boy who isn't greeted warmly by anyone except for Kirikou. The fourth story tells the story of a griot arriving into town and the final story is about a wind storm that causes Karaba to hear everything in the village which displeases her. Two babies won't stop crying and Kirikou has to figure out a way to calm them down so that Karaba doesn't become angry. 


The first thing I noticed about Kirikou et les hommes et les femmes is that the animation style is different from the first film as Kirikou et les bêtes sauvages was. I really loved the animation in Kirikou et la Sorcière so I was still a bit irked. I have to say that the change grew on me as time went on though. It's still not as pretty as Kels was but Kelhelf is quite nice to look at all the same. In terms of music, Kirikou et les hommes et les femmes loses Youssou N'Dour for the score but Thibault Agyeman does a great job in his stead.

The stories are pretty good overall and the movie as a whole is less child-oriented than Kirikou et les bêtes sauvages was which catered too much to small people and left adults squirming. It's more inline with what Kirikou et la Sorcière was able to offer so that's a welcome change. There are also some learning to be had about African culture as well as lessons on tolerance, racism, etc. 

My major complaint about Kirikou et les hommes et les femmes is how Karaba and her roof henchman are softened. Karaba is more accepting and gets less angry than she did before. Maybe her mystique has been uncovered but she's just not as threatening as she once was. The roof "fétiche" was always a problem before because it could see everything. In Kirikou et les hommes et les femmes, it seems like there's always a reason for the fétiche to be fooled or not see what's going on. It's too convenient and I missed having the roof fétiche always be a problem.

Michel Ocelot has improved on Kirikou et les bêtes sauvages despite the meandering of the five stories. It's not on the level of Kirikou et la Sorcière but it's a unique animated film that deserves a wider audience. The Kirikou movies are great for kids and there's a lot that they can learn from them. Kirikou et la Sorcière is still number one when it comes to be good for kids and adults though.



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