Azur and Amar: The Princes' Quest (4 stars)

Azur and Amar: The Princes' Quest

In Azur & Asmar: The Princes’ Quest writer and director Michel Ocelot (Kirikou and the Sorceress, Princes and Princesses) opts to use digital technology over the hand drawn animation technique that livened up his ‘Kirikou’ trilogy. The technology might be new but the resulting colourful palate and Arabian Nights-style storyline is a throwback to the days before Pixar tore up the rulebook.

Ocelot is not embarrassed to cater for younger audiences or take its time to develop characters and the plot. The magical tale starts with the boyhood shenanigans of Azur and Asmar who grow up like brothers despite Azur being the son of the king and Asmar the child of the nurse Jenane, who keeps the children amused with tales of the Fairy Djinn, a magical princess.

With the action taking place in North Africa, the scenic backdrop is a wonderful array of Islamic architecture and over-populated bazaars. Yet, it’s in the great artwork and attention to detail where children and adults alike will derive most pleasure, and it’s also a tale with a strong message about racial tolerance, respect for women and the need for compassion and references classic legends rather than popular culture. Meanwhile fans of more action-orientated fare will get their kicks in the closing reel as Azur and Asmar compete against each other to find the magical Fairy Djinn. (Kaleem Aftab)

Filmhouse, Edinburgh and selected release from Fri 8 Feb.

Azur and Asmar: The Princes' Quest

  • 4 stars
  • 2006
  • Spain / Italy / Belgium / France
  • 1h 39min
  • U
  • Directed by: Michel Ocelot
  • Written by: Michel Ocelot
  • Cast: Cyril Mourali, Karim M'Riba, Hiam Abbass, Patrick Timsit

Childhood buddies Azur and Asmar become rivals and enemies in a medieval Maghreb. With the action taking place in North African Islamic architecture and over-populated bazaars, the colourful palatte of the animation and 'Arabian Nights'-style storyline is a welcome throwback to the days before Pixar tore up the rulebook.