Azur & Asmar

94 minutes

Digital animators are naturally taken with their newfound power to render depth of field, which may be why this sophisticated 2-D fantasy by veteran French animator Michel Ocelot (Kirikou and the Sorceress) seems so extraordinary. Though carefully shaded, his digital characters are firmly rooted in the cutout tradition, and their flattened bodies seem to merge with the dazzling backgrounds, which are steeped in the bold color and elaborate patterns of Islamic art. For his story Ocelot recycles standard fairy-tale elements into a cross-cultural fable about a French boy and a Moroccan boy who join forces on a mystical quest. It's pretty two-dimensional as well, but the movie, like the art that inspired it, is all about the ornamentation.

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