Saturday, March 15, 2014
NYICFF 2014- The English dub of Ernest and Celestine makes its NYC debut and it rocks the house.
As most of you know I've been crazy about Ernest and Celestine since I saw it last year at NYICFF. It is the best animated film from last year despite what the Oscars say. The day after the screening last year I had a long talk with Eric Beckman the head of the festival about the film and the trouble of dubbing it into English. (you can read my original review and a report on the quest to get a voice cast here)
Tonight I went with Chocko to see the premiere of the English dub in New York and all I can say is they knocked it out of the park. Trust me on this it's so good that it doesn't matter which version you see the film works gloriously in either French of English. Seriously both are wonderful.
Talking to Eric after the film, and after I finished gushing to him about how right they got the dub, he told me about the struggles to get the script and voices right. The script was a battle to keep the rhythms of the original intact. It involved lots of tweaking to keep things right where they should be.
Eric also talked about how Forrest Whitaker came in and ignored the original performance and simply tore down the house and over the course of four days made the role completely his own. Of course the real problem was finding the right Celestine and despite trying several different actresses no one worked until Mackenzie Foy took a crack at it. I think she nailed it and from her first word I knew she had made the role her own. She's so on target that I wanted to scream "You got it! You crazy wonderful people you got it!" but I would have been thrown out.
To be honest, there are slight difference, slight turns of phrase or inflection, but it's all minor stuff. They got it right and made an equally valid version of the film. Actually it makes sense to think of it as if you saw the same play on two different nights, there are slight differences but it's still the same.
After the film there was a Q&A with director Benjamin Renner that answered most of my questions. If you click on the You Tube link above you'll see it for yourself. If you go to our Tumblr page you can see some pictures from the evening including some outside the theater where Renner was signing autographs and drawing pictures for everyone. The page can be found here.
Ultimately all you need to know is that the film is still a masterpiece and for me seeing it again it was like revisiting old friends.
GO SEE IT.