The Tale of the Fox

I found a link with English subtitles on youtube or you can buy it online, but it is pretty pricey.

History:

The Tale of the Fox was released in April 1937 in Germany and April 1941 in France. It is a French film though. They had trouble adding a soundtrack. So, funding was given to Germany, which is why it was released first in Germany. The animation was finished in Paris in an eight month period (1929-1930). The director is Ladislas Starevich who is mainly known as the author of the first puppet-animated film called The Beautiful Lukanida in 1912. This was his only full-length feature.

“The original plan was for it to be shown with a coordinated soundtrack played on records, but technology outpaced those plans, and the film was put in storage until several years later. In 1939, the cartoon characters were given voices by well-known French actors, a musical score was composed, and the film was released in Paris in the winter of 1940-41.” (Rottentomatoes)

The film is based on the tales of Reynard. It is a literary cycle of French, Dutch, English, and German fables. “The figure of Reynard is thought to have originated in Alsace Lorraine folklore from where it spread to France, the Netherlands, and Germany. The Old  French version Le Roman de Renartwritten by Pierre de Saint Cloud around 1170 detailed the fox figure. In the story, Reynard has been summoned to the court of king Noble, or Leo, the Lion, to answer charges brought against him by the Wolf. Other half human half animal figures, including the Bear, the Donkey, the Cat, all attempt to set up one another. The stories made Reynard a peasant hero character. Reynard’s principal castle, Maupertuis, is available to him whenever he needs to hide away from his enemies. The Wolf is Reynard’s most frequent antagonist and foil, and generally ends up outwitted, though he occasionally gets revenge.” (FIAF)

The film was released eight months before Snow White and the 6th animated feature film. It is the second to use puppet animation. The film is stop-motion. (Think of Coraline) The movie was directed by Irene Starevich (Ladislas’s daughter) and Ladislas Starevich. It was produced by Louis Nalpas and Roger Richebe. Johann Wolfgang Goethe wrote the story. Jean Nohain wrote the dialog. It was also written by Roger, Ladislas, and Irene. The movie starred Claude Dauphin, Romain Bouquet, Laine, Sylvain Itkine, and Leon Larive. The music was by Vincent Scotto.

Fun Information: I do not know if this has any basis to it, but I heard that Disney’s Robin Hood was originally supposed to be Renard. The reason it didn’t work was because they thought Renard was a terrible role model for children. Again, I do not know if this is actually true or not, but if it is. I think it’s pretty interesting, and I could see why they thought Renard was a terrible role model.

Before the Film: As I mentioned, in my last blog, I have never seen or heard of this film. So, I’m not really sure what to expect from this film. I can only guess that it’s about a fox and his tales lol.

Setting: French Medieval Times

Characters: There is more, but it’s really hard to find images for this movie.

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My Plot:

The narrator comes along and introduces us to the characters: Narrator, Master Raven, Sir Cock and Lady Hen, Poor Fearful Little Hare, Renault and Cerberus, The Wolf, the Wife, and his Kids, Maitre Badger, His Majesty the Lion and His Wife the Queen, Captain Bear, The Cat, and Reynard the Fox. First, we meet Reynard the Fox who is the main character of the story. I shall refer to him as The Fox. He meets Master Raven who is holding a “cheese.” He compliments the raven and tricks it into singing. The raven loses the cheese and the fox eats the cheese. The raven vows to never be tricked again.

Next, we meet the wolf family. I like the Wife. She is funny. Her husband is sitting by the fire all comfortable, and she demands she wants fish. He doesn’t want to go out into the cold, but she doesn’t care. So, she hits him with a broom and makes him leave. The wolf stumbles upon the fox grilling some fish. The fox tricks the wolf into being able to catch some more fish by putting his tail in the water. The water freezes and the wolf are stuck. The fox runs back to some humans, and tells them about a wolf; leading them to the wolf. (The fox is really mean; So far I do not like him) The wolf and the people fight. The wolf gets away, but he loses his tail. (It doesn’t really show who wins, or how he lost his tail) When the wolf gets home, he finds his wife in a trunk and the fox escaping stealing something.

“To this great fortress, came all the fox’s victims to file their complaints. All were there, to seek justice from the king of beasts. ” (Movie Quote) the animals complain to the King about the fox’s behavior and want retribution. The fox’s cousin claims that they are lies, and that he knows the fox. “Supposedly, the fox lives quietly in his castle far away with his wife and newborn child. The fox saw a peasant gathering fish, and the fox pretended to be dead. The peasant threw the fox into the back, and drove away. The fox was throwing out the fish for his starving children when the evil wolf came and swallowed all the fish.”

The rabbits were singing and giving their praises in church. When one was practicing, and the fox decided to choke him; so he could eat him. If the guard hadn’t witnessed it, the hare might be dead.  The cousin disputes this claim, “My cousin Reynard had come to atone for a few venial sins when he saw that ungodly, sacrilegious hare crawling about on the altar. The hare was drunk on communion wine. Reynard pleads with the hare to stop this shameful behavior. The rabbit stuck out this tongue, and Reynard was upset with this behavior.” After, the hare tears up his complaint. “The decision I have come to shall be irrevocable. We, the Lion, king of the beasts, decree: so that peace may reign, “our subjects are forbidden to eat each other, only vegetables, dairy produce, and fruit” From this day, the greatest love must reign in the earth.”

We get to this scene that reminds me of Romeo and Juliet. A cat, on the rooftop, near the Queen’s window, begins to sing to her. She looks like she is in love. The lion has a very beautiful voice. It is a pretty song. We then come to another scene that is so adorable. The King’s decree has come out, and a little rabbit grateful to the king’s word says, “Thanks to his majesty, daddy, mummy, and me won’t be eaten anymore.” It’s a really cute scene.

The next scene is animals singing and dancing. The song is cute. I don’t know what they are saying, but it seems like 1800s/early 1900s. So, it does fit the time frame. There is a scene with a little female mouse in this tiny dress that is tap dancing. It reminds me of a less sultry version of The Great Mouse Detective when Miss Kitty Mouse is singing Let me be good to you; but, I bet it was pretty “suggestive” during that time.

The wolf finds the decree and is shocked to find that he will be forced to become a vegetarian. He decides to attempt it and eats a flower, spitting it out. (It was hilarious) He finds a well and drinks some water. In the well, is the fox who is saying he is dying, and to let bygones be bygones. The fox claims to be in heaven. Then we come onto a heaven scene which is really interesting. The clouds are filled spider web and animal heads on it. Then there are sausages The fox makes it out like heaven is a wonderful place. So, the wolf climbs down the well. The fox tricks him again, and tells him “So long, stupid.” The people pull the wolf up, but they beat him with their sticks.

We come back to the kingdom where we meet a Rooster. The rooster brings in the corpse of his dead wife, and right by her side is the baby chick. (who is alive crying for  his mom) He begins to tell his tale and how everything was peaceful with the King’s new decree. The fox shows up, and the fox tells the Rooster’s wife how beautiful she is, and to dance with him. They are dancing until the fox grabs her, and runs. The guards (Renault and Cerberus) chase him. The rooster says, “Now I am widowed. She loved to dance. It has been her ruin.” The Queen begins to cry. The cousin claims the Rooster to be lying. “The rooster killed his wife to cover up his jealousy of the amorous activities of his wife.” The guard has enough and ties the fox’s mouth up, and takes him. The lion will have his subjects obey the law, and tells the captain to bring the fox back dead or alive.

The bear shows the fox the King’s decree. The fox is thinking how to fool the bear. So, he offers to show him a mine full of honey. The bear gets his head stuck and the fox runs away, screaming there is a bear. The man starts spanking the bear and hitting it on the head with hammers. The bear explains to the king what happened. The Queen is playing with that cat from earlier, and secretly hands him a note. “Don’t toy with my heart.” The cat sings the serenade again, and the king orders him not to. The king orders the cat to bring the fox back. The fox and some bears are about to eat a rabbit when the cat comes. They then pretend like everything is peaceful and are singing. The fox tells the cat, he knows where he can find swarms of mice. The fox tricks the cat into going into a barn, and getting tied up. The cat is then beat up.

The king orders the cousin to bring the fox back for his punishment, or the cousin will die instead. The cousin meets with the fox. The Cousin meets with the fox, and the fox says he’ll sleep on it. They go back, and the wolf and the fox shall battle each other. The fox wins, but it turns out to be a dream. The fox in a good mood does decide to go to the king. The King decrees that the fox shall be hanged. The fox is about to be hanged, but he tells the king that his heart is pure; and he would like to make him the richest in the world. The fox tells the king the how the cat, the bear, and the wolf are compromised. He tells the king how they plan his death so the bear can be the ruler. The wolf enraged by these accusations pulls out his knife intending to kill the fox, but everyone thinks he intends to kill the King. So, the king arrests the three conspirators.

The King is digging for the treasure when the fox sends a chest with a note inside that basically tells the king he has been tricked. The King becomes enraged and roars. He has decided to catch the fox no matter what. The King keeps sending his army, but they keep getting tricked and falling into the river. (On another note, the king called a guy Sir Ass (Donkey) and when the fox was talking to the cat he called him Pussy lol, I think it’s hilarious)

Everyone is trying to take over the fox’s castle and this scene is just hilarious. The entire scene reminds me of something from a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Besides, the fox, most of the animals are pretty dumb. The baby fox manages to get the horn that signs the retreat, so everybody leaves. The king realized that cunning Reynard would make the best minister. Everyone must obey Reynard, the king says. The baby fox’s pants fall down and he say’s “That’s all folks.” (I guess I was right on the similarity from the Bugs Bunny cartoons)

Actual Plot of the Movie:

In the story, Renard the fox is a charming creature who is so very clever that he often outsmarts even himself. Practically every animal in the kingdom has some complaint about being bamboozled by him, but when he flim-flams the king himself, something must be done. The king attacks Renard’s castle, which is ingeniously (if ineffectively) defended. Once Renard is captured the king can’t bring himself to harshly punish the errant rogue, and instead makes him his prime minister. ~ Clarke Fountain, Rovi (Rottentomatoes)

Positive: I found English subtitles to this movie. Yay! It was a lot easier to understand and I knew what was going on. The animation is brilliant. It is very beautiful. I would’ve never been able to guess that this film used puppets. There are many likable scenes. I liked the scene with the rabbit who was grateful to the king. It was so adorable. Then there was the scene with the Wolf’s wife. She was so bossy and didn’t care what he wanted. The animals have personalities. For example, the Foxes are clever and cunning, the Lions are elegant and brave, and the Rabbit is fearful and cute. The songs were really good. They helped carry the story. For example, the scene with the animals singing and dancing is used to show how the animals are cheerful that they won’t be eaten. There are a lot of funny scenes. For example, the guard is tired of hearing the lies the fox tells, and shuts him up.

Favorite Song: I don’t know what it is called or who sings it. There is supposed to be a soundtrack to this movie, but I can’t find it anywhere or any information about it at all. Whoever did sing this song had a beautiful voice. The song is so sweet.

Favorite Character: The Wolf’s Wife

She was only in that one scene, but in that one scene I really liked her. You could tell she was strong and wasn’t taking anything from anyone. It’s nice to see a female character like that, especially since this movie came out in the 1930s. I want to say that if a female character isn’t as strong, and is more docile, I’d still like her. I like Snow White and Cinderella, but I also like Jasmine and Mulan. It’s refreshing to see a strong female character, that’s all.

Negative: The one part that bothered me is most of the time; it was hard to distinguish the fox between the wolf. It would’ve been nicer if they differentiated them somehow. Also, Reynard gets rewarded in the end. After, all the bad things he did, I don’t see why. Also, what was up with the cat and lion scenes? It seemed like the queen was going to cheat on her husband, but nothing happened after they sang and a note was given. I didn’t see any purpose in it. Also, why did the humans keep beating up the animals? And, how could the Fox talk to the humans?

Overall:

Reynard might be the protagonist of the movie, but that does not make him the hero. He is definitely the villain in this story. The wolf is the antagonist of the movie, but you seem to root more for him than Reynard. I did feel quite sorry for him. Originally, I thought the moral of the movie, was you shouldn’t take the easy route and don’t believe everything you hear. But, I’m not sure about that now, since Reynard was rewarded in the end of the movie. So, there is no moral to this movie. I wouldn’t recommend showing this movie to children. Also, I think there is a nod to the Looney Tunes which I thought was pretty cool. The movie has amazing animation, a good plot, and an amazing soundtrack. I don’t like how Reynard was rewarded in the movie, but besides that I don’t really have any complaints. I would recommend watching this movie. Personally, I prefer it over Prince Achmed and I’d give the movie a B+. (It would have an A, if it wasn’t for the whole ending scene.)

The next movie I will be doing is The New Gulliver from the Soviet Union in 1935. It is stop-motion/live-action. I don’t know anything about this movie except I did find English subtitles for it. Yay! After, this movie we have 3 until we reach Snow White (Yay) and 4 until we get to the 1940s. One of the movies is the Academy Award Review of  Walt Disney Cartoons which technically isn’t a movie, so I may or may not do it. I haven’t decided yet. Anyways, I hoped you liked the blog. Tell me what you think of the blog and the movie.

Who was your favorite character?

Work Cited Page

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the-tale-of-the-fox-le-roman-de-renard/

http://fiaf.org/events/documents/YoungAudience-Winter2015-2.pdf

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tale_of_the_Fox

I do not own the images or videos.

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6 thoughts on “The Tale of the Fox

  1. It’s a very straightforward version of the tale…perhaps a little bit too straightforward. I am not a big fan, because I feel that the narrator is overused in it, but it is certainly a movie worth watching and for its time, very impressive.

    The singer is Jaime Plana according to the French Wikipedia. There are some examples of his singing on youtube, sounds similar enough.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t think I was going to like this movie, but I quite enjoyed it. It’s an impressive feat especially for its time. But there were some things that bothered me.
      Oh thank you. His voice is so beautiful. I will look him up when I get a chance.

      Like

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