A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Entertaining narration and images (some identified drawings from major artists) recreate the architecture, customs, fashion, dialect, and music of different countries and cultures.
All six stories have positive messages (some subtle; some overt). Overall, honesty, bravery, resourcefulness, compassion, and unselfishness triumph, while greed, a desire for power, and deceitfulness are defeated.
Positive Role Models
Male and female heroes are classic examples of goodness, cleverness, and courage. They are honest even when it may hurt them. They would gladly sacrifice themselves for others or for principles. Villains are standard bearers of greedy power-grabbers. Some who appear to be bad, see the error of their ways and become heroic. Multiple diverse cultures are portrayed.
Violence & Scariness
Heroes (male and female) are attacked and battle dragons, a bear, enormous bugs and "critters," warring tribes with spears. They are faced with the threat of death by "the big chopper" -- named but unseen -- as well as corrupt, oppressive leaders. Characters in the various stories are: imprisoned in a fortress, lost in "the country of the dead," as well as faced with being sacrificed to a beast. Living creatures are all depicted as black silhouettes; the villains often have glowing eyes and jagged teeth. Spoiler alert: In one story, a beloved horse must be killed and his heart eaten to save a princess -- it's handled delicately, off camera.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
In one of the six stories it is suggested that the African female characters, all portrayed as black silhouettes, are bare-breasted.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Tales of the Night is a uniquely-styled animated feature composed of six folk and fairy tales and some fairy tale mayhem: a dragon must be felled; a werewolf must be stopped; a princess must be rescued from an evil sorcerer, etc. All humans and animals are seen only as black silhouettes, which lessens the impact of bared teeth, ferocious growling, and springing attacks of the villains. What might be played as scary or gruesome in other animated movies is dealt with delicately here. Kids who understand the difference between make-believe action and real violence should have no trouble. Positive messages are inherent in each story, and each also introduces a different part of the world (i.e., Africa, the Caribbean Islands, Tibet). The movie was originally made in France with English subtitles, but it's well-dubbed into English for the American DVD release. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This is a wonderfully imaginative work by Michel Ocelot (also responsible for the delightful Kirikou and the Sorceress and Azur & Asmar: The Princes' Quest). He relies upon simplicity, vibrant color, an uncommon animation style, and traditional heroes, villains, and monsters for his magic. The film's educational value comes from attention to the authentic detail of each of the six settings and time periods (i.e., Africa, the Caribbean Islands, the Middle Ages). The film's morality is found in the simple, wise messages at the core of every tale.
Though Tales of the Night lacks the high energy, sound, and fury of many animated movies released for today's kids, bravery, cleverness, and good-hearted heroes are rarely given such an exceptional and entertaining platform.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.