Robinson Crusoe, shipwrecked on a not-so desert island
by Aurore Engelen
- Robinson Crusoe, a new production by Belgian animation studio nWave directed by Ben Stassen, lands in Belgian cinemas with steady ambitions
Never have there been so few desert islands… After a horrendous storm, Robinson Crusoe, a young English man who’s a bit clumsy but also a genius, is shipwrecked on a desert island. An island deserted by humans at least, as he finds a true menagerie living there. Robinson is quickly adopted by his cheerful companions, starting with Max, a shimmering parrot that he renames Mardi. Like in the original story, Robinson must tame his environment to survive. But what the legend doesn’t tell us, is that he must also fight off an invasion of wild cats. Another reinterpretation of the story, as this one is also written in the first person, is that it’s not the voice of Robinson that we hear, but that of Mardi. Robinson finds himself an ally in the character of Mardi, who like him, dreams of leaving the island to discover the world! A playful change in viewpoint whereby the stranger is no longer the island, but the castaway. The effective 3D animation cleverly highlights the moments of tension in the story, without overdoing it. The director, Vincent Kesteloot, exploits the geography of the island with its caves and waterfalls, as well as the water system that Robinson puts in place, in a particularly spectacular way, and makes these pipes, gutters and crevices into a real playground for the animals, a sort of natural amusement park. The sliding and the other stunts, especially during the high-speed chases with the wild cats, take the viewer on a real rollercoaster ride. The film is an ironic nod at Dreamworks, which offers layers of interpretation like Pixar. Robinson Crusoe [+see also:
film profile] adopts a more head-on approach. Not devoid of humour, it is a piece of family entertainment firmly addressed at children.
Up to now, nWave, a pioneer in 3D animation, has created its own heroes (most notably Sammy the Turtle). With Robinson Crusoe, nWave takes possession of a hero that is already well-known, thus broadening the appeal to audiences and the film’s commercial potential. Robinson Crusoe is part of a market in animated films that has become very competitive in recent years, in which the number of films released annually has almost doubled. The film, which is released this week in Belgium, and will be released in France on 20 April, was already released in Germany at the beginning of February, where it did very well, racking up 600,000 admissions in six weeks! The ambitions of nWave and Ben Stassen know no bounds, as the film will also be released in the United States in an impressive 1500 cinemas in September. Robinson Crusoe is a 100% Belgian production, which is rare for such a large-scale project. The film is being distributed in Belgium by Belga Films in a staggering 50 cinemas. It should benefit from its release coinciding with the school holidays, but will suffer as a result of recent events in Belgium. A sign of the times and a recent reluctance to work in 3D, unlike nWave’s previous films, Robinson Crusoe is being screened in many cinemas in 2D. This is a shame, as the film’s mastery of 3D is one of its biggest successes.
(Translated from French)