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The Distances (2018)
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The Prince’s Journey: Not another monkey’s tale


- French animator Jean-François Laguionie was among the filmmakers pitching at last week’s Cartoon Movie, where he explained the concept behind his next film

The Prince’s Journey: Not another monkey’s tale
The Prince's Journey by Jean-François Laguionie

At Cartoon Movie last week, we could have stayed for hours listening to Jean-François Laguionie telling us the story of his next film, The Prince’s Journey. The director (Louise by the Shore [+see also:
film review
film profile
, The Painting [+see also:
film profile
, A Monkey’s Tale) is back with another story featuring monkeys, but set in a world that looks more familiar to our own, a kind of mixture that encourages you to enter a dreamlike state, stuck somewhere between poetic philosophy and historical prophecy.

The titular Prince is a wise, old monkey who is injured and lost; he is then found and taken in by a young monkey called Tom and his parents, a couple of researchers. Soon, the Prince will excitedly learn to discover a new society, under Tom’s guidance. In the meantime, the discussions between Tom and the “other” (ie, the Prince) will be used by the researcher couple to convince the Academy of Science that, in fact, several monkey civilisations exist.

The backgrounds and sets are inspired by the 19th century, full of workshops and steam engines, but still surrounded by jungle. The colour palette is similar to Laguionie’s previous works, and the characters are drawn with clear, strong lines. This mixture, added to the diary format of the story, gives you the impression of something that one might have seen in the past – except that no one has ever seen such an original world. It is a curious blend, with elements ranging from The King and the Mockingbird to The Little Prince [+see also:
making of
film profile
, via Greystoke, and all enhanced by the unique Laguionie touch.

The short, rough animatic presented hinted at an ambitious script, where children are not taken for fools. “The Prince’s Journey is not a sequel to A Monkey’s Tale, but rather holds a mirror up to it,” stated the director, before joking: “Any parallels to the real world are purely coincidental.” The script and layouts are by Anik Le Ray and Jean Palenstkin, respectively, who both worked on Laguionie’s previous features.

The film is a co-production between France (Blue Spirit), Canada and Belgium, and has a budget of €4.2 million. It is currently in pre-production and should be ready by the end of 2018.

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