‘The Girl With­out Hands’ and other films.

Los Angeles Times - - CALENDAR - — Charles Solomon

Sébastien Lau­den­bach’s hand­some “The Girl With­out Hands” (La Je­une Fille Sans Mains), which won both the Jury Award and best French Film Prize at the An­necy In­ter­na­tional An­i­mated Film Fes­ti­val, is based on a dark, lesser­known fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm.

An im­pov­er­ished Miller (voice by Olivier Broche) sells his daugh­ter (Anaïs De­moustier) to the Devil (Philippe Lau­den­bach) for an end­less stream of gold. In an at­tempt to de­stroy the pu­rity that pre­vents the Devil from touch­ing her, the Miller re­peat­edly hu­mil­i­ates her, cul­mi­nat­ing in his am­pu­tat­ing her hands with an axe.

The mu­ti­lated Girl de­parts and al­though she’s pur­sued by the shape-shift­ing Devil, she’s also aided by a supernatural power and finds hap­pi­ness with a lov­ing prince (Jérémie Elkaïm). The Devil intervenes and the Girl is forced to flee with her in­fant son to the dis­tant moun­tains. Only af­ter she’s proven she can care for her­self and her child does she re­ceive her true re­ward. De­feated, the Devil blows away, like a puff of smoke.

Lau­den­bach has changed the an­gel of the orig­i­nal tale to an un­ex­plained “God­dess of the Wa­ter” (Elina Löwen­sohn), making “The Girl With­out Hands” feels less like an al­le­gory of virtue tested and tri­umphant and more like an ar­bi­trary tale of abuse.

The film’s ap­peal comes from its strik­ing vis­ual style. The char­ac­ters and back­grounds were painted on pa­per in bold cal­li­graphic lines and un­ex­pected colors. The re­sults re­call Isao Taka­hata’s “The Tale of Princess Kaguya” and the Os­car-win­ning shorts of Michael Du­dok de Wit and John and Faith Hub­ley.

“The Girl With­out Hands” is the lat­est en­try in the re­cent string of drawn an­i­mated films from Europe.

Made on small bud­gets, th­ese films present more in­di­vid­ual vi­sions than their big-stu­dio Amer­i­can coun­ter­parts. “Girl” is a wel­come re­minder that an­i­ma­tion doesn’t have to be syn­ony­mous with re­al­is­ti­cally ren­dered CG but can be a means of artis­tic ex­pres­sion as uniquely per­sonal as a sig­na­ture. “The Girl With­out Hands.” Not rated; suit­able for ages 14 and older with some nu­dity, vi­o­lence. In French, with English sub­ti­tles. Run­ning time: 80 min­utes. Play­ing: Laemmle Mu­sic Hall 3, Bev­erly Hills.


THE FILM “The Girl With­out Hands” has a vis­ual style in which char­ac­ters and back­grounds are painted on pa­per in cal­li­graphic lines.

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