Ernest et Célestine (English: Ernest & Celestine) is a 2012 hand-drawn animated French film, based on a popular series of children's books by Belgian author Gabrielle Vincent. The film focuses on the adventures of a young female mouse named Celestine and the male bear Ernest, who become unlikely friends. It was the first animated feature to be created entirely with "paperless traditional," or "tradigital," using Adobe Flash and graphics tablets to create hand-drawn animation on computers.note
The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature film and also won a number of major film festival awards, including the Magritte Awards in three categories and the Dubai International Film Festival. The film's DVD release includes a fairly extensive making-of documentary covering everything from initial development to sound production. The English language dub is notable for featuring the final performance of Lauren Bacall (as the voice of the Grey One).
And no, this is not one of the Ernest movies.
A sequel, Ernest et Célestine, le voyage en Charabie (English: Ernest & Celestine, a trip to Gibberitia), was released in December 2022. In it, Ernest and Celestine goes to Gibberitia, Ernest's homeland, to have his violin repaired, but discover that music is now outlawed there! With the help of a mysterious vigilante, the duo will try to put an end to this injustice.
Ernest et Célestine provides examples of the following:
- Adopt the Food: A hungry Ernst was fully prepared to eat Celestine given half the chance but circumstances and her own quick thinking secures his help and eventually make this trope the foundation for the film's Happy Ending.
- American Kirby Is Hardcore: The original poster seen above has a happy Ernest and Celestine, while the American poster has them getting mugshots.
- Beary Friendly: Ernest might look grumpy at first, but gradually becomes better.
- Black Comedy: There are a number of black comedy moments, such as when Celestine waxes about the diseases that Ernest might get if he keeps eating out of garbage.
- Brick Joke: At the beginning of the film, the caretaker of the orphanage loses a tooth, thus temporarily losing her ability to speak coherently. As a result, most of the children can't interpret what she's saying, to the point where they argue amongst themselves about whether or not it's even possible to actually understand her. With children being children, a pillow fight breaks out. Hilarity Ensues. Much later, Ernest's lawyer loses his tooth while defending his client; an identical argument and an actual fight breaks out amongst the jury in the courtroom.
- Buddy Picture: About Ernest & Celestine's surprising friendship.
- Butt-Monkey: The bear family that owns the sweet shop and the dentistry is collectively this. Every time they appear, expect something bad to happen to them. When the child (who is banned from eating sweets so his teeth would look presentable when he inherits the dentistry) loses his first tooth, which Celestine tries to steal, his room gets wrecked by them chasing her out. Ernest and Celestine both help each other to steal from both businesses (sweets for Ernest, teeth for Celestine). The duo escape the police by stealing the family's car. While the car is eventually returned, it is only returned by rolling back into town by accident, crashing into the sweet shop.
- The Cat Came Back: Once Ernest and Celestine are on the lam, Ernest tries multiple times to shut Celestine out of his house. However, Celestine appears right back inside the house each time he tries.
- Character Title: The movie is named after the two main characters.
- Children Raise You: Meeting Celestine and growing to care for her is the catalyst to Ernest's character development and happiness.
- Civilized Animals: The mice generally look rather like mice and the bears rather like bears and they have certain behaviors of each. But they've both set up fairly advanced societies and have human behaviors like working at jobs, holding courts and forming friendships.
- The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes: The candy store owner's son is expressly forbidden from eating any candy, so he doesn't have to patronize his mother's dentistry practice.
- Cry into Chest: Celeste to Ernest a number of times.
- Dreadful Musician: Subverted. When we first see him panhandling for food and money, Ernest is bad at singing and playing the accordion and drums. Turns out, playing the piano is his forte. He's also a fantastic violinist.
- Eek, a Mouse!!: Lucienne, the bear cub's mother, fits this. It's implied that most of the female bear population generally have this attitude towards mice, or, at the very least, are supposed to.
- Faceless Masses: The mouse policemen, whenever they group together. Averted in most other scenes, as the residents of both worlds are incredibly diverse in regards to weight, shape, size, and even species, as it's not hard to notice a panda or two in the background.
- Family Business: When we get a glance into a bear family's dinner, the parents are more than keen on forcing their child into owning both his dad's candy store, and his mother's dentist's office, so that way he can continuously rot out people's teeth with candy, then fix them whenever they need it, just like his parents.
- Fantastic Racism: The bears don't like the mice and vice versa. The mice live below-ground, the bears above. The mouse children are afraid of being eaten by vicious, ravenous bears, and the bears are afraid of losing all their food to swarming, ravenous mice. Until the end of the film, only Celestine is willing to challenge this social order.
- Interspecies Friendship: Between a bear and a mouse.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: At the beginning, Ernest is prejudiced towards mice just like the rest of the bears, as well as a curmudgeonly old lug in general. His friendship with Celestine softens him up significantly and allows him to show his more vulnerable and fun-loving side.
- Justified Criminal: Ernest is a thief and has committed a number of other crimes as well, but he's starving and acting out of desperation.
- Kangaroo Court: When Ernest & Celestine are finally arrested, they are whisked away to be respectively tried by judges of the opposite races. Their defense counsel is inept at best, the judges are entirely unsympathetic, and they are offered pretty much no chance to defend themselves. The trial is cut short when both courthouses catch fire.
- Mythology Gag: Ernest and Celestine's book retelling of how they met is the actual first book of the series the film is based on.
- Nice Mice: Celestine is a very nice little mouse.
- Parents as People: The bear couple Georges and Lucienne love their son very much and want him to lead a successful life, and have set him up to inherit two very profitable businesses. They also seem somewhat oblivious to what their son actually wants.
- Police Are Useless: They can't catch either Ernest or Celestine and when they do briefly capture Ernest, he and Celestine have a fairly easy time of it getting away. They then spend months spending hiding out in Ernest's home in the woods, even though it's really not that far from the city and shouldn't be all that hard to find with a joint manhunt issued for the two of them. Later on, when a fire engulfs the courthouses, absolutely none of the policemen in either world make an attempt to save the judges that remain inside. Underground, even the two mouse policemen that are chained to Ernest refuse to help, despite having nowhere else to run, and assume that the mouse judge would make it out on his own without their help.
- Plucky Girl: Celestine is optimistic, brave, and simply does not give up.
- Sweet Tooth: Ernest, even when he isn't starving for food.
- Time Passes Montage: We're treated to a very beautiful one when Celestine begins to paint the winter landscape, and Ernest plays a composition on his violin. The visuals show blue and white abstract shapes to represent the music, which gradually turn green and yellow. When the sequence ends, we've skipped to early spring.
- Villainous Breakdown: Not quite villains, per se, but both judges get into a frenzy as their respective trials progress. Ultimately, each one is too angry to realize that their courthouse is on fire and everyone else has already fled the scene. Celestine was able to calm down the bear judge and coax him into following her out, while the mouse judge had to be bodily carried outside by Ernest before he finally came to his senses. Also Rule of Symbolism.
- We ARE Struggling Together: This trope is notably in play with the respective police forces from the mouse and bear worlds, not even aware of their common goals. As Ernest and Celestine hijack the car to make their escape, the bear and mouse policemen surround the car and order them to step out of the vehicle, all the while both failing to recognise the presence of the other. As the duo start the car and make their getaway, the crowd of police finally notice each other. Instead of joining forces and conducting a proper pursuit and manhunt, the mice and bears forget their common quarry and back off from each other without a word.
- Your Size May Vary: Compared to the mice, Ernest can be anywhere from three times taller to ten times taller depending on the scene.