SUMMARY: A hunchback’s attempts to approach a beloved princess at the top of a large platform are thwarted by his own clumsiness and the violence of the courtiers who despise him. But their maltreatment unleashes a secret which even the hunchback was unaware of.
WHY IT’S HERE: Whether Michel Ocelot’s ‘The Legend of the Poor Hunchback’ actually belongs on an animation list is debatable, since it tells its story more through a series of images than through moving pictures. It is this that makes the short so utterly unique and beguiling though. Ocelot works again with cut-outs but this time you really can’t tell. Using white paper and felt tips, then greying the images with charcoal and pastel, the film looks like a 15th century wood carving. Told with no dialogue but set to the brilliant music of Christian Maire, ‘The Legend of the Poor Hunchback’ does eventually segue into some basic but monumentally effective animation as the plot’s secret is revealed and the hunchback is differentiated from the stiff, ugly people that surround and spit on him. When speaking of the film, Ocelot decries the fact that it won a Cesar award when his more intricate ‘The Three Inventors’ did not, but I would concur that this simpler, devastatingly effective work is the better film of the two. Sorry Michel!