Our Favourite Films: Marona’s Fantastic Tale

maronas fantastic tale indexIt’s possible that if you’re not fond of our canine friends or any other four legged animal than this will be a film that will leave you cold, but I’d be greatly surprised if all others didn’t find it extremely endearing. A hand drawn animation don’t expect anything akin to Disney here as this is far less polished, but the animation style is often quite beautiful, with the film flirting with different styles to produce a quite unique effect.

Beginning with a tragedy the tale itself is quite a simple one as our female lead (Lizzie Brocheré) recounts her life, right from her very first moments on this planet as she is one of nine puppies fighting for attention, to a brief stay with her racist father (her words, not mine) who as well as being shitty towards people is pretty awful towards her as well, showing little or no interest and so she is quickly discarded.

After a thankfully brief spell on the streets she meets her first owner Manole (Bruno Salomone), an acrobat who performs on the street with Marona faithfully staying by his side, as Manole informs her of the ways of the world, or his world at the very least. But she leaves him when she discovers he has a chance of fame if he leaves the city without her, and after that meets Istvan (Thierry Hancisse), a builder who shows her love but is unfortunately married to a selfish, self-obsessed type who quickly tires of owning a pet. This leads to one final owner, a young girl called Solange (Nathalie Boutefeu) who lives with her mother and surly grandfather, but who over the years loses interest in Marona as puberty hits hard.

While this is packed with amusing observations about what it must be like to be a dog, the nature of their love for their owners and the simple things they require to be happy in life, it’s also a study of humanity and the manner in which we treat not only our four legged friends but each other. With Manole it explores the nature of fame and desire, with Istvan it examines the way we manipulate each other and the demands we make without perhaps even realising it, and finally with Solange the difficulties of single motherhood and growing up in a city as a young girl.

Despite the way it begins the ending still caught me off guard and tears emerged, so perhaps this isn’t material for very young children who might be even more upset. For everyone else it’s more than worth feeling such a way however, it’s a gentle, evocative and beautiful film, Marona’s sharp, sometimes stark observations are often wryly funny, and it is consistently charming and wise, and filled with ideas that will stay with you long after the credits have rolled.

★★★★1/2

Alex Finch.
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