Kirikou and the Sorceress

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Kirikou and the Sorceress Movie Poster Image
Parents recommend
Enchanting folk tale with toddler hero, for all ages.
  • NR
  • 2000
  • 75 minutes

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 12 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byLnrmama February 11, 2016

Not for young children!!

I don't know at what point in childhood the idea of children being stolen from their village while they're playing in the water would not be completel... Continue reading
Parent of a 3-year-old Written byjknight770 May 7, 2016

Commonsense is off on the 5+ rating - should be 10+

My 10 year old enjoyed it but my 8 year old had nightmares.

A few scenes in particular that are scary:
1) Kids trapped in a tree which turns into a cage
2) A s... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old January 2, 2017

Amazing!! Except...

Kirikou and the Sorceress takes place in Africa. Many of the woman in Kirikou's village don't have clothes over their breasts and at the end there is... Continue reading

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.

Talk to your kids 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

Our editors recommend

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