Fresh Film Festival: Panique Au Village (2009)
10am Monday 26th of March, 2012.
Storm Cinemas, Castletroy, Limerick.
In association with the Irish Film Institute, the Fresh Film Festival screened the French stop-motion animated feature film Panique Au Village (A Town Called Panic). It was directed by Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar. It premiered at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival and was the first stop-motion film to be screened at the festival.
When you first see the play-doh village, the plastic figurines of the postman with his letters, and all of the other ‘friendly’ neighbours, the ‘no-nonsense.ie’ ads come to mind. Five minutes in to the screening and the audience realises that the entire plot is nonsense. The film represents postmodern elements as well an element of a new brilliant ‘cult’ film that’s sure to take off. It has already reached great levels of recognition by being the first stop motion animation film to ever make the official selection list at Cannes Film Festival in 2009.
Although it is in French, the film would suffice without subtitles, but it would be shameful to miss the excellent sarcastic tones and the laugh out loud jokes. There are different levels of humour that both adults and children would enjoy. Characters include; a robotic penguin, a mammoth, aliens, a police man, a farmer and his wife; some sheep, pigs and a few mad scientists who all combine to ensure that every personality type imaginable will be represented.
Children’s favourite toys come to life in what can only be described as a movie of utter madness. House mates Horse, Cowboy and Indian are the best of friends but there is panic in the town when the troublesome two realise they have forgotten Horse’s birthday. With a lovely barbeque built as a present, there is nothing left to do but hide the rest of the accidentally ordered fifty million bricks and the two decide that best place for these could only be on the roof of Donkey’s doll-style house. It is in an attempt to rebuild Horse’s house that the plot thickens as we try to track the thieves who continuously steal the walls, even the ones Cowboy and Indian forgot to put windows in.
Music teacher and horse Madame Longree and Horse fall in love but it is a struggle for him to get to her piano class on time when chasing three blue alien blobs through the snow world followed by the underwater world and then falling into the core of the Earth. The film ridicules the climax of many thriller films as Horse, Cowboy and Indian are falling off a cliff to their death and play a game of cards on the way down towards their doom. The two love horses struggle to get together and when Horse finally arrives to class he brings a tsunami with him. The order is almost finally restored, the relationship blossomed and we come full circle again to Horse’s next birthday. The film ends as we realise that once again Cowboy and Indian have forgotten Horse’s special day.It seems that the residents of Panique au Village, like the title suggests, will never find peace.
Panique Au Village can only be described as beyond brilliant and makes a welcome change from your fairytale happy ever after ending. It steps up the world of the imagination and will never make sense no matter how many times you watch it. It will mesmerise you for a very short 77 minutes. Move over Pixar, the directors Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar are definitely ones to watch. Fingers crossed for a sequel.