The children’s hero and his four-legged friends come to the cinema for the first time – in YAKARI – THE MOVIE The courageous Sioux experiences all sorts of difficult situations, but also gains the ability to talk to animals. We reveal more about this in our review.
OT: Yakari, the film (BEL/FR/DE 2020)
Yakari has a dream: He wants to one day ride Little Donner, the wild horse that no Sioux has yet been able to tame. When his tribe’s hunters capture a herd of mustangs, Little Donner escapes with a mighty leap. Yakari follows the young horse and frees it when it gets its hoof stuck under a rock. For this courageous act, Great Eagle, Yakari’s totem animal, gives him the gift of speaking to animals. While searching for Little Thunder, Yakari gets caught in a raging river. Clinging to a tree trunk, he still falls down a waterfall and floats down the river, far from his home. Now it is Yakari who needs Little Donner’s help: together they set off on the long and adventurous journey back through the mountains. Not only do the two of them meet many different animals, they are also affected by the cold and hunger. Hunters from an enemy tribe are on their trail and a storm threatens to endanger Yakari’s parents, who are looking for their son…
It’s hard to believe that the French comic series “Yakari” is already 50 years old. After all, the adventures of the little Sioux boy and his brave piebald Little Donner are currently the hottest thing among kids between the ages of 3 and 8. On the one hand, this is certainly due to the beautiful animations and the entertaining stories, which have lost none of their timelessness over the past five decades. In what is now the first “Yakari” movie, screenwriter Xavier Giacometti once again presents the entire potpourri of messages about friendship, trust and belief in yourself that are suitable for family films. On the other hand, it probably also has something to do with Netflix: The fourth and fifth seasons of the “Yakari” animated series, which was produced from 2005 to 2016 (and therefore the second after 1983), have been available there for some time now – and Yakari has been experiencing it ever since his two-legged and four-legged friends are having a second spring, which is evident from the fact that pretty much every product – from bed linen to children’s plasters – is currently available with a “Yakari” print. A film is just the next, logical step.
Yakari and his totem Great Eagle.
And it is one that the author has carefully considered given the story presented here. While a children’s series hero usually ends up on the big screen, the makers are often content with simply telling a slightly longer series episode – we’re thinking, among others, of “Fireman Sam”, “Bob, the Builder” or, most recently, “Paw Patrol”. . For “Yakari – The Movie,” however, Xavier Giacometti has now thought of a story that couldn’t be told within the framework of the series (which has ended anyway) if one wanted to maintain the chronology. “Yakari – The Movie” represents something like an origin story – the young audience learns for the first time how Yakari acquired the ability to talk to animals and how he thereby became acquainted with his later, loyal companion Little One could make thunder. “Yakari – The Movie” therefore has narrative added value even for an audience that is already very familiar with the series. Although one has to be honest, such formats for small children (the “Yakari” film is also rated for ages 0 and up) rarely have the most demanding audience. All the better if this knowledge doesn’t automatically lead the creators to be careless with the material entrusted to them.
“’Yakari – The Movie’ represents something like an origin story – the young audience learns for the first time how Yakari acquired the ability to talk to animals and how he thereby became acquainted with his later, loyal companion Little could make thunder.”
But even if “Yakari – The Movie” has a length of just 80 minutes, which is appropriate for the target audience, Yakari’s discovery of his special abilities and the first encounter with Little Donner could hardly be extended to this running time. So the directing duo of Xavier Giacometti and Toby Genkel, who is very familiar with the genre, are directing the film (“Ooops! The ark is gone”) his story is also an entertaining adventure trip on which Yakari learns to deal with his newfound powers. The little boy has to get out of tricky situations several times with the help of furry or feathered two- and four-legged friends. At first glance, such scenes may not seem particularly original in their clichéd presentation and therefore only seem moderately exciting (especially for adults). At the same time, however, they always drag on, so that the tension, which is particularly present among very young viewers, does not subside immediately. If you put yourself in the position of a child viewer, “Yakari – The Movie” could be pretty exciting every now and then. And even if everything always turns out well for Yakari, Yakari’s family and Little Thunder in the end, the age rating from 0 years should be treated with caution.
Yakari asks the butterflies the right way
But speaking of enjoying: This can also be done in “Yakari – The Movie”. This is primarily due to the outstanding animations. Visually, the art department is strongly based on the comic or series template, so that you can immediately recognize all the well-known people and (humanized) animals as themselves on the screen; And as you would expect from “Yakari”, the design of all the characters in this world is particularly cute. However, the backgrounds and landscape panoramas seem a lot more opulent – and we’re not promising too much when we announce that the world depicted in “Yakari – The Movie” can certainly keep up with one or two Hollywood productions. For budgetary reasons, European animation studios often don’t have the opportunity to create similarly intoxicating visual power as their competitors from overseas. The makers of “Yakari – The Movie” are now at least able to do this in individual aspects – their project definitely belongs on the screen.
“The backgrounds and landscape panoramas then seem a lot more opulent – and we’re not promising too much when we announce that the world depicted in “Yakari – The Movie” can certainly keep up with one or two Hollywood productions.”
There you can (even as an adult) not only revel in the beautiful scenery, but also in the interaction with animals and nature presented here. “Yakari – The Movie” knows how to inspire with the diversity of species presented here, which gives young viewers a lot of knowledge about flora and fauna to take home with them. And the little ones can learn a lot from the interaction with people, which despite all the humanization is never taken for granted.
Conclusion: Beautiful animations, cute characters, cute animals and an exciting, fast-paced story, garnished with messages typical of family films – “Yakari – The Movie” is perfectly tailored to the very young target group. Due to the loving production and the great visuals, even the adult companions shouldn’t get bored in the cinema.
“Yakari – The Movie” can be seen in USA cinemas from October 29th.