Playing at Fantasia 2022, July 17 11:45 AM
Auditorium des diplômés de la SGWU (Théâtre Hall)
Bristle (Kaycie Chase) is the little spitfire. When considering she is the Princesse Dragon, also this film’s title, her personality should be of no surprise to anyone, including her father, named Dragon (Jérémie Covillault). She is a human dragon hybrid and fears she will become like the foes pops hates. Humanity hasn’t been kind to them for a long time, and he has every reason to despise them.
However, he can’t stop this little girl from exploring. She’s a wonderful Studio Ghibli type character and I’d compare her to Mei from My Neighbour Totoro. But unlike that human, her desire to broaden her horizons differs. And the magical adventure that unfolds is one about how differing civilizations can peacefully co-exist.
Soon, while wandering the woods, she meets Princess (Lila Lacombe) from a nearby kingdom. After a romp in the woods, she is taken to the castle and what she sees is that not everyone is evil. Also, this dragon girl learns through observation that not everyone is faring well. If you ask them what their most precious treasures are, I’m sure not everyone will give the same answer. The answer is obvious for some, but if you ask the King and Dragon that, they would lose a round in Jeopardy.
In contrast, the King can’t look beyond his own greed. He even arranged his daughter’s future and the prince we meet is hardly a prince at all. He looks like a puppet willing to be strung along. All he cares for is for the future. When Princess takes the throne, his kingdom will expand to include a neighbouring area and the bounty it offers. Thankfully she is wise to his schemes. Additionally, we also find Dragon’s other two kids are berating him for abandoning Bristle. She hasn’t earned the title Princesse Dragon yet.
Thus, this animated film by Jean-Jacques Denis is all kinds of wonderful. In this work, the children are far wiser than their elders. Also, I can’t help but be reminded of the same literary and visual techniques used by Tomm Moore in Wolfwalkers. In this case, the relationship every species has with itself is deftly examined. The committed humans who are dragon-slayers do not differ from the Dragons who are determined to horde.
Conversely, Princess is nothing like dad. She is sweet and kind while papa is too greedy and determined to do something else. That is, his desire to expand his empire beyond its natural borders will eventually be his undoing. And yes, he loves his gold. The issue we later discover is that he is not willing to share his wealth. Also, when he spots somone else stealing the Dragon’s gold, he’s more than upset. He’s determined to get his reward, and that’s going to be an issue.
The Frogceress is all new character to which I’m sure was created specifically for this movie. Colette Venhard performance of this crone is the highlight and I hope there’s plans to expand her role. A significant part of Princesse Dragon wouldn’t have happened without her interference, and as for what she represents in a greater whole really needs to be examined. Without her, I would not be as invested. I should note that in French, she’s referred to as the Sorcenouille. I’ll have dive deep into studying European folklore to figure out which literary witches influenced this particular design. My best guess is Baba Yaga.
As a result of wanting to see more of her, all I can hope is for Jean-Jacques Denis to consider making more films where she’s at the centre of more disasters! Now wouldn’t that be fun?
5 Stars out of 5