Azur & Asmar: The Princes’ Quest
Azur & Asmar: The Princes’ Quest. An animated film by Michel Ocelot, 2006.
This animated fairy-tale set in mythic landscapes reminiscent of medieval France, and Morocco, brings to life a story of a blue-eyed, fair-skinned, blonde boy who comes from a rich family; and a brown-eyed, dark-haired, North African boy, whose mother works as a nanny for this rich family as she breast-feeds both baby boys, and inspires their imaginations with stories of the Djinn Fairy as they grow up. Although the boys are raised together, ultimately their social status forces them to take on different paths, and when they get older they find themselves as competitors on a quest to find the Djinn Fairy. While on this journey, their inherent “brotherhood” comes to surface once again as they make sacrifices for each other. The film uses jewel-like illustrations that reflect Michel Ocelot’s authentic insight and knowledge on both cultures, dual language (Arabic and French; Arabic and English version is also available), and poetic storytelling to enable the viewer to empathize with the characters, and prompts the viewers to question their own stereotypes that they might have for others.
--ELIF M. GOKCIGDEM