November 25, 2020
Pajamas, a bowl of cereal, getting up before Mom and Dad to enter the wonderful world of Saturday morning cartoons as early as possible…this was the ritual for all the kids of my generation! My favorite was The Smurfs, but I could watch any cartoon and be mesmerized.
I loved animation then, and it has only gotten better over the last 40 years! It has also become much easier to access animation from other places. Once upon a time, there were few animated movies you could see in the States that weren’t from Disney. But now you can view animated films from around the world through both streaming and DVDs. And many fantastic titles can be found in MCPL’s catalog.
One of the best distributers of high-quality foreign animation is GKids. Their vault of award-winning movies includes pieces from around the world, and these films are more than just amazing stories; they’re educational and teach about other cultures. Below are some phenomenal animated films that portray the diversity of our stories:
- Song of the Sea (Ireland): An Irish boy learns that his younger sister, whom he blames for his mother’s disappearance, is actually a selkie who needs to free faeries from a Celtic goddess. Beautifully animated, this is a great introduction to the mythical selkie (seal folk) of Irish folklore.
- The Prophet (France, Lebanon, Qatar): Based on Khalil Gibran’s famous book of short essays, The Prophet tells the story of the dissident Mustafa, who is being held under house arrest. He learns he will be freed, but only if he agrees to leave the country. As he begins his departure, he imbues his wisdom to the rebellious young daughter of the woman who has been his caretaker.
- Tales of the Night (France): Using a unique animation technique called silhouette, this presents six distinct fables (cultural folktales) from Tibet, Africa, the West Indies, Mexico (Aztec), and Medieval Europe.
- Approved for Adoption (Belgium): An animated documentary recounting the true story of a Korean boy adopted by a Belgian couple and the complicated emotions that can come from being a foreign adoptee.
- Wrinkles (Spain): Taking place in a retirement home, Wrinkles revolves around the friendship between rascally Miguel and newly arrived Emilio. As Miguel recounts the ins and outs of the facility to Emilio, he comes to realize that his new friend is suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Wrinkles is a poignant examination of growing old.
- Nocturna (Spain, France): An orphan discovers a secret nighttime world where a villain is planning on stealing the stars. Nocturna is full of inventive characters and charming animation.
- Ernest and Celestine (France): There are two worlds—the world of bears and the world of rats. These two worlds are supposed to remain separate, but when a bear named Ernest and a rat name Celestine form a friendship, they start to break down the walls of misconceptions and stereotypes that both groups carry about each other. This is a perfect tale for our time.
- The Breadwinner (Canada/Luxemburg): Set in Kabul, a young girl must take on the identity of a boy in order to support her family after her father is arrested by the Taliban.
- Extraordinary Tales (Luxemburg): Five of Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous works are presented in a variety of animated formats. From The Tell-Tale Heart to The Masque of the Red Death, this is a must-see for all Poe fanatics.
The above films are great for those who wish to have a slightly different animated experience. It is wonderful to see how animation around the world has advanced and how so many unique stories can now be told. Check out even more GKids films at mymcpl.org.
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