Got kids? There’s no excuse to miss Zarafa, the compelling tale of a cross-racial friendship (a Sudanese boy and a baby giraffe) in the early 19th century.
For his first animation, French director Rémi Besancon sourced his inspiration from a real historical anecdote: in 1827 the Muhammad Ali Pasha of besieged Alexandria gave Charles X the extraordinary gift of a living giraffe in the hope of getting French support in their war against the Greeks. The result was as unfruitful as unforeseen: French diplomacy didn’t budge, but an instant wave of giraffe-mania swept over the capital. Parisians of every class stormed the Zoo de Vincennes to take a peek at the long-necked mammal, while fashionistas took on the beautiful spotted skin pattern as the latest must-have.
The popular giraffe remained one of the zoo’s main attractions for 18 years before she died and was stuffed for further display (Groupies-to-be: Zarafa can now to be visited at the Natural History Museum in La Rochelle).
The (extrapolated) adventure of 10-year-old Maki and Zarafa takes young viewers along the slave-trade route, from a small village in Sudan to the French capital, through the desert, besieged Alexandria, Marseilles and the Alps – by camel, pirate ship, hot air balloon, and back, with unforgettable encounters along the way, from sexy piratess Bouboulina to Maki’s two travel companions: genial and congenial inventor Malaterre and the handsome, taciturn albeit good-hearted Bedouin Hassan.
Visually beautiful, educationally and emotionally satisfying, nicely inspirational while never preachy – this is an ideal kids flick for all ages – at the screening we attended brats squealed in delight, while parents left content and red-eyed.
Last but not least – this is a 3D, CGI-free product. And, yes, Zarafa 2D reaffirms the pleasure of a good old-fashioned animation without glasses!