LE ROMAN DE RENARD (1930)
aka The Story of the Fox
Directed by Irene Starewicz and Wladyslaw Starewicz
Featuring the voices of Claude Dauphin, Romain Bouquet, Sylvain Itkine
What it is: Animated fable
In the kingdom of the animals, complaints are lodged to the lion king about the fox, who performs pranks on all of the other animals. The king decides to have him arrested, but will he be able to find another animal that can outwit his nemesis?
Up to this point, all of the works I've seen from Wladyslaw Starewicz have been shorts; this one, at 65 minutes, can be called feature length. For those who wonder whether his animated magic could be translated into this longer form, there's no need to worry; he does a wonderful job, though he enlisted the aid of his daughter in the writing and directing of the movie. It's based on a fable by Goethe, and it's mostly a comic series of pranks in which practically every character is sooner or later outwitted by the clever fox. The ending is unexpected but logical, and it definitely shows the imprint of someone who spent at least part of his life involved in politics (meaning Goethe). The animation is stunning as usual, and I find it interesting that even in this world of anthropomorphic animals, they still find themselves at odds with man; several of the pranks involve leaving the hapless animals at the mercy of human peasants. This one is definitely recommended.