Monday, 1 February 2010


Narrated by a bespectacled monkey, animator Władysław Starewicz’s only feature-length animation concerns the story of Renard, a mischievous fox who wreaks havoc in the kingdom of animals. After repeatedly receiving complaints about Renard stealing the food of others and bullying those more vulnerable than himself, King Lion puts him on trial to give him the opportunity to defend his actions. Naturally, the jury is unwilling to hear him out, and Renard is thrown down a well. Unaware that his wife is being pursued by an amorous lute-playing cat, the King legislates that no animal should have the right to eat another, and that love shall reign supreme. After managing to escape the well, Renard returns to his nefarious ways, and the King resorts to more violent measures to stop him.

Without discrediting Wes Anderson too much, the aesthetic of his interpretation of Fantastic Mr. Fox is very clearly inspired by The Tale of the Fox, and it is actually the latter which comes out on top visually. Even the humour is darker here, with such bizarre sights as a topless burlesque-dancing mouse and Renard seducing a hen so that he can eat her. Starewicz’s animation and set design are, as ever, difficult to fault, particularly in the bell-tower battle sequence at the end. One issue with the film is that Renard is such an unrelentingly evil character who is forgiven purely for his ingenuity, but if one views it as a cartoon rather than a social allegory, it becomes inconsequential.

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