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Western Animation / Tales of the Night

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Les Contes de la nuit (Tales of the Night) is a 2011 French animated film directed by Michel Ocelot. The film is comprised of six fairy tales, five of which first ran on TV in France as part of the Dragons et princesses (Dragons and Princesses) anthology. The sixth short is new to Tales of the Night. The story is framed with an old man (who used to work in a cinema) who mentors two young actors, helping them plan and act out their stories. The six stories are:

  • The Werewolf
  • Ti Jean and Belle-Sans-Connaitre (Beauty Without Knowing)
  • The Chosen One of the Golden City
  • The Tam-Tam Boy
  • The Boy Who Never Lied
  • The Doe-Girl and the Architect's Son

The film is visually striking, done in a shadow puppet style with crisp black silhouettes moving across a brightly-painted background. The stories are set in a variety of locales, from medieval Europe to Africa and Tibet. It's also notable that each of the stories contains a twist or Subverted Trope.


This film contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Androcles' Lion: The bee, mongoose, and iguana in Ti Jean and Belle-Sans-Connaitre help Ti Jean after he shows them kindness and feeds them.
  • Audible Sharpness: Several times when swords are drawn.
  • Baleful Polymorph: Used against Maude in The Doe-Girl and the Architect's Son. She's actually the crow, not the doe.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The wizard in The Doe-Girl and the Architect's Son takes Maude back to her room by summoning a giant spider to take her.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Boy Who Never Lied. The boy gets to marry the girl he loves and the king wins half the neighboring kingdom, but the boy's beloved horse Melongi is dead.
  • Dance Party Ending: In The Tam-Tam Boy.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: The hero of The Chosen One of the Golden City kills the city's Benefactor.
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  • The Fair Folk: Appears in The Doe-Girl and the Architect's Son.
  • Fairy Tale: The basis for the film. There's usually an interesting twist, though.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: The Architect's son is implied to be half-fairy.
  • Impossible Task: The King of the Underworld tries this in Ti Jean and Belle-Sans-Connaitre.
  • It Was with You All Along: She, actually. Maude in The Doe-Girl and the Architect's Son was actually turned into the crow that was seen throughout. The doe in the title was just a normal doe.
  • Karma Houdini: Arguably the princess in The Boy Who Never Lied. Her plan results in the boy losing his best friend, but she gets off with what amounts to a slap on the wrist.The boy even gets together with her at the end!
  • Magic Feather: The magical tam-tam turns out to not be what's making people dance: it's the Tam-Tam boy's skill with it.
  • Mayincatec: The setting for The Chosen One of the Golden City.
  • Mukokuseki: Non-Japanese example: Since the film is done in a shadow puppet style, the same models are able to be used again and again with only slight alterations in costume. For example, it allows the boy and girl characters (who are at the very least French in terms of nationality), to play African and Tibetan characters, in a way devoid of Unfortunate Implications.
  • No Hugging, No Kissing: Played with: The stories where the male and female protagonists fall in love only goes as far as showing them hugging/looking at each other affectionately. Until the final tale, that is.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: In The Werewolf, Yan is compelled to turn into a wolf at the full moon but his necklace actually controls the transformation.
  • Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: The Chosen One of the Golden City has this as it's central conflict, with the hero representing progress and knowledge going against the high priest who controls the people with his dogma. The people eventually side with the hero.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Melongi the horse kills himself after mating with Sumaki so that his human can save the girl he loves by giving her Melongi's heart. Unfortunately, she was faking it all along...
  • Someone to Remember Him By: Sumaki, the singing horse, is pregnant at the end of The Boy Who Never Lied even though the stallion Melongi is dead.
  • Talking Animal: Melongi, the horse in The Boy Who Never Lied.
  • Will Not Tell a Lie: A central plot point in The Boy Who Never Lied.
  • Virgin Sacrifice: In The Chosen One of the Golden City, the villagers must sacrifice a beautiful girl to their "Benefactor" or, according to the prophecy, their city will crumble.


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