NOTE: This review discusses the English language version of The Fox & the Child with narration by Kate Winslet.
Long before making the popular 2005 drama/nature documentary March of the Penguins (La marche de l’empereur), writer/director Luc Jacquet had conceived the story that would form the basis of The Fox & the Child (Le renard et l’enfant) out of events from his own childhood. While growing up in the Ain region of France, Jacquet formed a bond with a wild fox and that relationship is replicated in The Fox & the Child when a young girl (Bertille Noël-Bruneau) discovers a fox near her home, slowly gains the animal’s trust and eventually forms a unique friendship with it.
As he demonstrated in March of the Penguins, Jacquet knows how to make animals and nature look stunning on camera but he lacks the ability to tell an involving story (at least in the English versions). The Fox & the Child is sweet and cute but it becomes tiresome. Nevertheless, the film is beautiful to look at and the cinematography does justice to this beautiful part of France, which is near the Alps. The English dubbing is annoying and Kate Winslet’s narration is unnecessary although it probably does help the younger audience members maintain concentration, as the film is slow to develop.
As visually delightful as The Fox & the Child is, the mind does wander during its admittedly short running time. You may enjoy imagining what sort of film The Fox & the Child would have been if Werner Herzog did the narration instead of Kate Winslet. Instead of lines like, “My heart was beating so fast! He was so cute!” there would be musings such as, “I now understand that nature is fundamentally about violence, chaos and murder!”
The bottom line is that The Fox & the Child is a nice film, appealing to look at and contains a nice message about the dangers of humans interfering with nature. Beyond that it lacks substance but the fox is suitably cute so that’s the main thing.
It is a good children’s flick and I see it primarily as a documentary, with a fairy tale like narrative inserted to make it more engaging, especially for children. I suppose the English dubbing makes it more accessible to an English-speaking audience though it is a bit stilted with Winslet’s very proper voice-over. If anything, being light on dialogue, it could be a good introduction to sub-titles for children. My 8-year old (who liked the film a lot – 4 stars from him) has no problems with sub-titles as he’s seen much more sophisticated foreign language films over the years. In fact he loved Persepolis and The Edge of Heaven, so this film was a piece of cake for him.
It is too long, by about 20 minutes. You feel your head starting to nod off about 2/3 of the way in. For what it is, it’s OK, a nice film for children that’s acceptable for the parents.
I actually did nod off for about 15 minutes and when I woke up I really didn’t care that I had missed anything. That’s never a good sign.
On another note, when I was 8 I think I was into Gremlins and Ghost Busters.
Hehe, I was into The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Honestly.
I felt that this film was well put together and was acceptable for all ages. For those who nodded off during any part of the film, I would have to say that you weren’t paying attention and probably shouldn’t have started the movie in the first place. The length was fine and communicated the message of one’s communing with nature.
Fair comment Michael. I only saw it because I had to review it on the radio so I will admit that I had no great desire to see it in the first place. Glad to see that you and others were able to get more out of it than I was.
I just watched this film with two 7 year olds on either arm. We were all deeply engaged. The simplicity of the film was absolutely wonderful. Beyond being safe, I thought it expressed the potency of the relationship between people and nature without being overwhelming. I thought that the simple narrative done by Kate Winslet was very warm and quite perfectly simple for younger children, while inspiring older minds to reflect on their own childhood adventures. The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous. A stunning and refreshing film in it’s innocent and graceful subtlety.
Beautifully expressed Emunah! I may have to give it another chance one day.
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