Ivan Tsarévitch et la Princesse Changeante is the films original French title. Taking fairy tales and changing them or telling them anew is not a new thing, but the way this film frames it makes it ever more delightful that the ones who have remade stories in recent years (yes, Disney I mean you).
An old man, a young man and a young woman are in a cinema, brainstorming about fairy tales. They get four ideas, each taking place in different corners of the world from Persia to India to Russia. Four stories unfold as the old man makes the young man and woman perform the fables with their own little twists and wishes in them.
This is a lovely movie. It’s only an hour long and it is just utterly charming. No need for expensive CGI when the silhouetted characters perform and emote as much as is needed for both a child and an adult to understand. The animation is fluid and uses all the tricks that shadow puppetry can only achieve with the distinguishable characters and the ease in which one can insert oneself in to these people as wish fulfilment.
There is also a feminist streak in this movie which is refreshing. The young woman working in the cinema is frustrated with all the women in the fairy tales being so passive and not doing anything or not even having much of a story themselves. The old man agrees and lets her do the stories as she wishes and if one knows the fairy tales then the change of the princesses or just the women in to active protagonists is wonderful, when otherwise they would be just the love interest. It’s enjoyable to have someone break the fourth wall and call out the fairy tales on their bad representation (or lack of) and just change it all up as she wishes because that is what she wants.
So yeah, if you like French animation, fairy tales or just want an hour to spend watching this wonderful and charming movie of four tales then I highly recommend it!
Thank you for reading!