Animation: The Elm Chanted Forest
The Elm-Chanted Forest
is a Yugoslavian/U.S. joint-produced animated film from the 1980s. In fact, it was the first feature-length animated film produced in what is now Croatia. And it proves that the Croatians can weird it up with the best of them
. It is also known as Fantasy Forest,
but the pun is more distinctive.
The enchanted forest is protected at all times by the great and mighty enchanted elm tree that watches over it. But the nefarious Emperor Spine, the King Cactus, watches it from afar, and he wants to turn it into a desert land that he can rule. As it happens, an exceedingly mild-mannered
painter named Peter wanders into the forest from a nearby village to paint the elm tree. When he falls asleep under it, the elm tree grants him a passel of magical powers with which to protect the forest: the ability to talk to animals
and a magical paintbrush
. At first Peter is content to simply hang out with the local wildlife, but soon the Cactus King bears down on him and his friends. (The bear almost does, but he's more of a good guy.
) Soon Peter is teaming up with animals, spirits, and even a beleaguered wizard named Thistle to stop the Cactus King, enchanted upheaval and... literally magic mushrooms
!? Hey. I warned you it was weird!
It managed to spawn a sequel, The Magic Hat
, but that one never really made it overseas. It starred Thistle the wizard.
This work contains examples of:
- Actual Pacifist: The Fire Spirit, contrary to popular belief. He lives deep within the earth, and is happy keeping to himself. He has to be tricked by Emperor Spine into setting his flames free.
- Adipose Rex: The water king; probably because he sleeps in all day. Emperor Spine, too, but then again, many types of cactus are that round...
- Art Initiates Life: The Enchanted Elm gives Peter a magical paintbrush that can paint living pictures.
- Artistic License – Biology: Thistle reasons that the reason the Cactus King is so mean is that he has never blossomed before, and is thus unfulfilled. However, when he finally does blossom, the flowers come out of his spines. Cacti flower from specially grown stalks off their bodies, not their spikes!
- Bears Are Bad News: Thistle tries to get a football-playing bear to tackle Peter. However, neither the bear nor Thistle really is that bad.
- Berserk Button: Do NOT mention beavers in front of the Cactus King.
- Bittersweet Ending: The Cactus King is reformed, and the forest is saved... but the powers Peter received from the elm tree have worn off, and he must go back to his village, as he can no longer understand his new animal friends.
- This also happens in the sequel. While Mrazomor is defeated, the fairy queen Sunchica's love for Thistle causes her to lose her powers and title, though the Dwarf King tells her that she and Thistle should continue to protect the forest.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Peter, Emperor Spine, Fifi, Baron Burr, Firebug, the female beaver J. Edgar Beaver falls in love with, and the mushrooms are nowhere to be seen in the sequel.
- Cunning Like a Fox: Fifi, of course.
- Dance Party Ending
- Disney 'Shrooms Sequence: The "Truffle Shuffle" done by the mushroom tribe. They must be inhaling their own spores all the time!
- Disney Death: Thistle has one in the sequel when he is frozen after defeating Mrazomor, but is thawed out by the fairy queen Sunchica's tears.
- Four Element Ensemble: The four kings/spirits present in the movie each roughly represent one of the classical elements: The River King represents water, the Fire Spirit fire, Baron Burr is Wind, and Emperor Spine is Earth.
- Funny Afro: The mushroom singers, especially Michael J. Mushroom. While this is actually a reasonable approximation of the way truffles look, the fact that the mushrooms seem to otherwise be in blackface could be considered somewhat Unfortunate Implications.
- Genre Savvy: The Cactus King isn't too comfortable with Baron Burr's prophecy, knowing that Exact Words could be at work. "It is obscure, needle-brain! I must know with pinpoint accuracy!"
- Gratuitous French: Fifi the fox. Even her Leitmotif sounds French!
- Heel-Face Turn: Thistle does one rather early in the film. Early enough that it's not really a spoiler. It is, however, a spoiler that the Cactus King does one, too.
- Hurricane of Puns: The Cactus King constantly uses some very sharp words to make a point.
- Idiot Hero: Peter slips into this. Early on, the animals go to more lengths than they should need to to keep him from walking into the Cactus King's lair — just because the king offered Peter lunch.
- Mind Screw
- Kill It with Fire: The Cactus King tries to persuade the great fire spirit to set the forest on fire. The Fire Spirit is actually very peaceful, and doesn't want to burn the forest. But he does accidentally, anyway.
- Knight of Cerebus: The sequel gives us an ice wizard named Mrazomor, who desired to freeze all life to death by freezing the sun.
- Large Ham: Baron Burr. "IF you listen VERY CAREFULLY, the WIND will SPEAK TO YOU!"
- Leitmotif: Both Peter and Thistle have them.
- Lip Lock: Parts of the animation are sped up in the English dub to match the new dialogue.
- Male Gaze: A close-up shot of Fifi Fox's behind is given when the protagonists distract the guards to get into the Cactus King's castle and at the end when the animals celebrate the Cactus King's Heel-Face Turn.
- Mushroom Samba: There is a literal one, the "Truffle Shuffle"/"Mushroom Power", about how awesome it is to be a mushroom. At the end of the routine, they all suddenly grow fangs. It's loosely implied that this is because of something they gave Peter to turn him into a mushroom himself.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: "The Cactus King." Sounds real friendly, doesn't he?
- No Indoor Voice: Baron Burr can't speak at anything below a shout.
- Prophecies Rhyme All the Time
- Robe and Wizard Hat: Thistle.
- Show Some Leg: Well, if one of the assets to your evil-fighting team is a sexy French fox, you might as well.
- Something Else Also Rises: J. Edgar Beaver's whiskers do this when he encounters the female beaver. Yes, really.
- Speaks Fluent Animal: Peter gains the power to talk to animals.
- Sssssnaketalk: Firebug ssspeaksss like thisss.
- Spikes Of Doom: The name "Emperor Spine" really kind of says it all.
- Tagalong Kid: The three hedgehogs.
- That Reminds Me of a Song: When Thistle initially goes to the bear for help, said Bear tells him to relax a bit, then randomly breaks into song that has nothing to do with what either of them were saying. And no, it is not brought up ever again.
- Two Lines, No Waiting: This is as much Thistle's story as it is Peter's.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Peter takes it quite in stride when he finds out he can paint living pictures and talk to animals.
- Wacky Wayside Tribe: The mushrooms.
- Villain Song: "Mushroom Power", which is sung by Michael Mushroom while Peter Palette is held prisoner by the mushroom people with the intent of turning him into a mushroom.
- The Villain Sucks Song: The sequel has one for Mrazomor and his icicle witches.
- You Have Failed Me: When his wolf minions inform him that Thistle is leading a revolt to end the deadly winter in the sequel, Mrazomor responds by freezing them and shoving them into the water.