Ernest and Celestine: A Trip to Gibberitia
by Christie Robb and Emmy Clifton
This follow-up to the Academy-Award nominated 2012 movie Ernest and Celestine and an animated television series, all based on works by writer/illustrator Gabrielle Vincent, has the beloved duo of bear and mouse on a quest.
They have returned to Ernest’s hometown of Gibberitia to have his violin (a stradabearius) repaired by its creator, only to find that his formerly enchanting land filled with bears playing music has become a repressive regime. A new law has banned music with more than one note. Children are forced to take on the careers of their parents regardless of their personal inclination. And a masked hero of the underground resistance periodically pops up to protest with impromptu saxophone solos.
I had the chance to watch the movie with my nine-year-old-daughter. Here’s our take.
The animation is beautiful, like watching a moving watercolor. The quest to find joy and individual purpose in a society determined to force one into a predetermined course is important. However, the film seems a bit spare. The relationships between the characters could have used some more fleshing out. But, I am coming late to this franchise having missed the previous installments.
The conflict spoke to my daughter who paused the film periodically to voice her suggested solutions to Ernest and Celestine’s problems. Impressive that the production team managed to tackle the ideas of fascism and political overreach in a low-stakes, nonviolent, way that speaks to children. It’s quirky and charming with some great visual gags and a musical theme that will keep you humming long after you’ve walked away from the film.
I loved everything about the movie, except that, if you look really closely, all the animals have human hands. I did not like that.
The cute art style reminded me of Studio Ghibli movies.