Kirikou and the Sorceress Movie Poster Image

Kirikou and the Sorceress



Enchanting folk tale with toddler hero, for all ages.
Parents recommend
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2000
  • Running Time: 75 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

This production provides an introduction to African art, music, culture, and the structure of tribal communities.

Positive messages

Numerous clear, positive messages throughout. Most important, instead of Kirikou seeking only to destroy the sorceress, he wants to find out why she's mean and evil. When he does that, he is able to change the course of his village's history without violence. Other salient messages:  "You can live without gold; you cannot live without water." There will always be people who are mean no matter how you treat them. The sorceress fights to keep her people from wisdom in order to retain her power over them. The more frightened her people are, the more powerful she is.

Positive role models

Kirikou, despite his age (barely a toddler) and size is a true hero in the purest sense. He models loyalty, bravery, wisdom, compassion, and honesty. The sorceress appears to be evil solely for the sake of power and evil itself. But when the source of her wickedness is uncovered and she is relieved of it, she, too, becomes a good person. Even her henchmen (called fetishes and animated as robots) are "delivered from evil" by the heroic Kirikou.

Violence & scariness

There are some mildly scary images. An evil sorceress holds an entire village hostage with her malevolent voice, threats of magic, and an army of "fetishes" (not-very-scary robots). A skunk with bared teeth chases a toddler; a wart hog threatens the little boy as well as some animals; a snake is let loose to frighten the innocents. A boat appears to carry off a group of children. In two sequences, there are moments during which the audience may believe that Kirikou, the toddler hero is dead, but he soon revives.

Sexy stuff

There is non-sexualized nudity in this highly-stylized animated film. The female characters, drawn simply and without great definition, are seen naked from the waist up throughout. Their breasts come in all shapes and sizes. Children are naked; a male toddler's genitals (again simply and without definition) are seen as a natural part of his body. Opening sequence depicts the outline of a mother ready to give birth. The baby, ready to be born, speaks to her from inside her body, then is seen crawling out from beneath her skirt, delivering himself.


Some mildly insulting name-calling: "little toad."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that while most kids (and grownups) will be charmed by and fully engaged in this film, there are some moderately scary images that might frighten the very young or very sensitive. The main child character is challenged by a skunk with bared teeth, a wart hog chases him, a boat carries off some of the village children against their will, and a villainous sorceress makes powerful threats and uses magic. The simple animation depicts the population of an African village with women naked from the waist up (breasts of all shapes and sizes are seen) and children sometimes naked or with a loin cloth. Kirikou -- the main character -- is a toddler, and his genitals are sometimes visible in profile but without any detail.

What's the story?

Kirikou is born into an African village that is ruled by Karaba, an evil sorceress and her minions (robots called "fetishes"). She has cut off all their water and is believed to have eaten all the men of the village. The women and children who remain, live in fear and poverty as a result. In his innocence and with great self-confidence, the tiny Kirikou sets out to find the source of Karaba's wickedness, destroy her evil, and return the village to peace and prosperity. Along the way, he is faced with many obstacles the sorceress places in his path, as well as a gaggle of older children who make fun of him, and, finally, a wise man who helps lead him closer to his goal.

Is it any good?


This unique, beautiful film is thoughtful, funny, imaginative, and, at the same time, speaks to the best human impulses and behavior. Kirikou, the heroic toddler, with the wisdom of the ages and unwavering love for the world around him, does not wish merely to defeat the evil sorceress, but also to understand why she behaves as she does. Magically, because of Kirikou's tenacity and courage, the villain is not defeated, but redeemed. With vivid, simple animation that evokes African culture and its art, with music that enhances the always-engaging story, and with rich, full characters KIRIKOU AND THE SORCERESS is highly recommended. It's a movie that grownups and kids of all ages can delight in together.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how art and the music in this animated film from France and Belgium differs from the art and music in American animated films?

  • Most cartoon heroes set out to defeat the larger-than-life villains they encounter. What is different about Kirikou's quest?

  • How do the animators represent the human body in this movie? If you were embarrassed when you first saw Kirikou and the female villagers, did that change as you became accustomed to the way they were drawn?

  • In lots of movies, we can figure out how it's going to end very early. In what ways did this story surprise you?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:February 18, 2000
DVD/Streaming release date:May 24, 2005
Cast:Awa Sene Sar, Doudou Gueye Thiaw, Maimouna N'Diaye
Director:Michel Ocelot
Studio:Les Armateurs
Genre:Family and Kids
Character strengths:Compassion, Courage
Run time:75 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 6 year old Written byapisurtica March 1, 2013

Precocious compassion and problem solving

This may be the most revered of films I have watched with my child! The film is so beautiful to watch and listen to, and the pacing gives lots of opportunities to be still and listen; it encourages the patience and attentiveness not fostered by so many children's films. It's also a good glimpse into a way of life that may be in some ways very different from our own. There's educational value in learning about another culture and how resources are used/shared in rural villages. I am absolutely blown away by the strong messages of compassion and resilience that this movie has helped me share with my son. Kirikou is born, or rather births himself, and is immediately asking questions. His mother is patient and nurturing, but still firm and honest with him. The parent-child dynamic they model is heartening. Precocious Kirikou is not satisfied with the oversimplification of Karaba the sorceress' character. (He later uncovers a subtle message that it's more about truth vs fear or ignorance than good vs evil.) What's more, he not only seeks to solve Karaba's evilness, but is able to see beauty in her despite her cruelty and greed. As Kirikou encounters challenges, we are let in on his problem solving processes, including his feeling tired, scared, etc. We see him persevere with indomitable optimism and courage, but also a solid understanding of who he is and what his limitations may be. SPOILER: Karaba's evilness and magical powers both stem from a thorn once forced into her back (a possible allusion to rape?). I constantly refer to "thorns" that people might have that cause them to make bad or mean choices. As my son matures, we discuss ways that we, like Kirikou, might help ourselves and others to resolve the underlying causes of our pain and sometimes subsequent bad behavior. It's been a gift to have this poignant metaphor to discuss such deep themes with my younger child. The illustrated nudity in this film is refreshingly respectful and non-sexual, though I see how Karaba's body jewelry might be surprising. Our family did not find it distracting. A child who's experienced breastfeeding and seen little kids naked won't see anything shocking. Also, there's a sequel: Kirikou and the Wild Beasts. I think yet another is on its way.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Parent Written bykamikazecook April 29, 2012

Inspiring and humorous story of magical child (with great music)

This is an utterly winning film with a child protagonist who knows what he wants and doesn't let anything stop him, from the first moment when he calls out "Mother! Give birth to me!" to the last moment. He is paired with a mother who encourages him to be his full self (her answer to that first demand? "Any child who can talk from his mother's womb can give birth to himself"). The impossibly tiny Kirikou has the smarts to ask the questions the adults aren't bothering to ask and to look farther when they don't have substantive answer. Even more than his bravery, it's his curiosity that win the day, and there are many great lessons for kids and adults in this lovely story. For kids, there's the pluck of a kid even smaller than themselves; for adults, there are the adorable details (the shape of a child's body when he's being nudged away, the way the grandfather holds the tired baby, the very way that Kirikou is bold one moment and wants to be held the next) that let you know this film was made by people who are loving parents themselves. I label this as 3+ simply because it moves slowly enough that someone under 3 might not be able to keep focused on it—but there's nothing a younger child couldn't see, and the "scary" moments are over quickly. There is one moment when Kirikou appears to have died—you might want to let sensitive children know ahead of time that no real harm comes to him. There is animated nudity (bare-breasted women and naked young children) that is accurate to the film's time and place, but do not let it deter you from watching this sweet and utterly heart-warming story that will truly entertain and charm the whole family.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Parent of a 3 and 5 year old Written byMamaRo May 17, 2012

A bit scary for age 5

I personally didn't think this would have been that scary for my 5 year old daughter. She is usually in line with other Common Sense Media ratings. She was enthralled and into this film. I walked away for a few minutes and then found her crying out loud with tears streaming down her face during the scene where the children are captured by the tree. We did need to mute this film during scary parts. Overall, I think she liked it and I appreciated the artistic style and the folkloric style. But I would say this is "iffy" for age 5 and better for kids age 6+.


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