A magical experience for children --- and adults --- THE MAGICIAN’S ELEPHANT is a timeless story about love and the importance of family. Based on Kate DiCamillo’s award-winning novel, director Wendy Rogers and screenwriter Martin Hynes have created a wonderful animated reimagining of DiCamillo’s beautiful tale.
Peter (voiced by Noah Jupe), forever optimistic, has been living with Vilna (voiced by Mandy Patinkin) since he was a small boy. Orphaned after an explosion during a war, Peter was rescued by Vilna, a soldier. Now, Vilna is determined to train Peter to be an infantryman with a regimen of eating small fish and stale bread every day and marching in their upstairs apartment as often as possible.
But Peter’s main objective has always been to find his sister, whom he believes is still alive despite Vilna’s protests to the contrary. One day on his trip to the open-air market, Peter encounters a fortune teller (voiced by Natasia Demetriou), who tells him he must follow an elephant in order to seek his quest.
As it happens, a magician (voiced by Benedict Wong), is performing in Peter’s little town. His act is not going well and to save it the magician conjures up an elephant. Unfortunately, the townspeople are frightened of the beast and it is subsequently locked up at the palace belonging to the Countess (voiced by Kirby Howell-Baptiste). The King (voiced by Aasif Mandvi) arrives and is thrilled with the elephant.
But Peter is determined to set it free so he can follow it and finally find his sister. In order to do so, the King has decided if Peter can complete three impossible tasks, the elephant will be his. Aided by his neighbors, Leo (voiced by Brian Tyree Henry) and Gloria Matienne (voiced by Sian Clifford), Peter is resolved to completing the assignments and saving the elephant.
David and I are suckers for incredible animation and a moving story. THE MAGICIAN’S ELEPHANT has all of this and more. Peter’s dilemma is affecting and his dedication to finding his precious sister whom he remembers holding as an infant is heartwarming. Children taking on the burden of becoming adults is not uncommon, but DiCamillo’s novel and Hynes’ script have taken Peter’s plight to another level.
It is Peter’s realization that his big, beautiful elephant may have a family of her own and that perhaps her needs trump his desire to find his long, lost sister. It is this moment in THE MAGICIAN’S ELEPHANT which stands out and makes this a must see for the entire family. The children will love the animation --- and the humor --- and the adults will definitely appreciate its message.
Netflix March 17th
Opinion: See It Now!
It has been a while since an animated feature film has so captivated me, but I can confidently say that THE MAGICIAN’S ELEPHANT is a special endeavor. Combining absolutely wonderful animation, strong character development and a visionary script, this movie is a cinematic treat for fans of all ages.
At its heart, Peter (voiced by Noah Jupe) is a wartime 13-year-old boy separated from his sister when he was younger, and she was an infant. Rescued by and living with a soldier named Vilna (voiced by Mandy Patinkin), Peter’s whole world revolves around what Vilna says, including that his sister is no longer alive.
A chance encounter with a fortune teller (voiced by Natasia Demetriou, who also narrates) leads Peter on an ambitious journey to find the truth. Allowed only one question by the seer --- how can he find his sister --- Peter is told to simply “follow the elephant”. This strange advice is validated when a traveling magician (voiced by Benedict Wong) hopes to impress a skeptical audience when he produces an elephant during his act. After a mishap, the elephant is declared too dangerous for the townspeople, and it is decided he must be destroyed. Peter, of course, refuses to let that happen. However, he must successfully perform three “impossible” tasks assigned by The King (voiced by Aasif Mandvi) for the elephant to be spared.
As the story unfolds and we learn more about a little orphan girl named Adele (Pixie Davies) who dreams of an elephant, we wonder if she is the solution to Peter’s quest. A terrific script by Martin Hynes (co-writer of TOY STORY 4) based on the award-winning novel by Kate DiCamillo, plus superb leadership under first-time feature director Wendy Rogers, THE MAGICIAN’S ELEPHANT is highly recommended for moviegoers who crave a good mystery, heartwarming melodrama and don’t mind an occasional lump-in-the-throat.
The ensemble voice cast also includes Brian Tyree Henry and Sian Clifford as Peter’s neighbors who are a sheer delight, Miranda Richardson as Madam LeVaughn, a crusty old woman who suffers a leg injury when the elephant falls on her and Dawn French as Sister Marie, Adele’s protective nun.
Meanwhile, the townspeople where Peter lives have lost their sense of wonderment and imagination, so his hope of finding his sister becomes their hope. Young Jupe has already appeared in a number of outstanding films (A QUIET PLACE, HONEY BOY, FORD v FERRARI and THE UNDOING). But as the focal point of this story, Peter’s youthful enthusiasm and sense of anything is possible truly elevate THE MAGICIAN’S ELEPHANT into an exceptional movie-going experience.
Netflix March 17th
Opinion: Strong See It Now!