Ernest & Celestine Blu-ray Review
It’s late at night and all of the mice are gathered around Celestine (Makenzie Foy; originally voiced by Pauline Brunner), who is drawing in her notepad: there’s a mouse and a bear, but no sign of the latter devouring the rodent. “A bear and a mouse cannot be friends!” says one of them.
The orphanage owner, The Grey One (Lauren Bacall), comes into the room with the young mice and begins in on a classic bedtime story, about a big bad bear who loves to eat everything from buildings to, of course, mice. She’s sure to note that these are not merely stories, but truths that should serve as cautions for the outside world.
Being an artist isn’t the way of the mouse, and so Celestine is destined to be, like the others, a Mouse Fairy, who swaps money for bear teeth. An early attempt is botched when she’s spotted by a particularly angry bear (Nick Offerman) and his nightgown-clad wife (Megan Mullally). The next bear she encounters is Ernest (Forest Whitaker; originally voiced by Lambert Wilson), whose mood depends on whether or not there is any food in his cupboard, and who earns his dinner by singing on the streets.
Ernest finds Celestine in a trashcan. He pokes her gently, lifts her by the hood and licks his lips. She screams and begs for release. “But I’m hungry,” he says. She distracts him by pointing out a candy store. From there, the two become friends (although it’s a bit rough at the start). And why not? Why shouldn’t a mouse be able to be friends with a bear? Just because an adult figure (even a mentor) says so?
That’s the lesson of ERNEST & CELESTINE: that individuals who are different can—and perhaps should—be friends. Here are two creatures that are outsiders in their community—a mouse with a passion for art and a bear who has to beg for food—who are forced to seek comfort elsewhere. It’s no surprise that their bond is forbidden, but it’s also no wonder that they want to stay together.
ERNEST & CELESTINE is directed by Stéphane Aubier (A TOWN CALLED PANIC, Vincent Patar (also A TOWN CALLED PANIC) and Benjamin Renner (the short film A MOUSE’S TALE) and written by Daniel Pennac, who adapted Gabrielle Vincent’s series of children’s books, the first of which was released in 1981.
It is an amusing, cute and charming little film that supports the ideas of being yourself and how friendships can begin simply by asking someone’s name. It’s not a complex work in any respect, but it does a commendable job at getting the messages across, with a stellar voice cast and soft, delicate animation that might call to mind those Charmin commercials, but is actually quite good, proper for the target audience and faithful to the source material.
ERNEST & CELESTINE won the Best Film honor at Belgium’s Magritte Awards and was nominated for the Best Animated Feature Oscar. Additional voice cast includes Paul Giamatti as Rat Judge, William H. Macy as Head Dentist and Jeffrey Wright as Grizzly Judge.
ERNEST & CELESTINE BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: 1.78:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. Since the animation itself doesn’t pop, it’s no surprise that this high-definition transfer lacks much that will leave the viewer in awe, which is something that a studio like Disney might be more inclined to achieve. That said, the presentation is very nice, has no discernable flaws and is faithful to the animation team’s intentions, which were to remain faithful to the style of Gabrielle Vincent’s books.
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. While there isn’t a whole lot of dimension in the track, the dialogue, effects and score come through with no noticeable faults.
The Making of ERNEST & CELESTINE (51:59): This excellent documentary goes into all aspects of the production, from Gabrielle Vincent’s books, adapting the source for the screen, the storyboards, the sets, the animation, the score and more.
Feature-Length Animatic (1:24:17) showcases the animators’ sketches and drawings.
Interview with Director Benjamin Renner (13:58): Renner sits down to discuss the collaborating, writing, visuals and more of the Oscar-nominated ERNEST & CELESTINE.