Cinderella. Hansel & Gretel. Sleeping Beauty. The Frog Prince. These are just some of the most well-known stories that were first made well-known by the famed Brothers Grimm. For ages, the brothers’ stories have both entertained and terrified audiences (depending on the story), of all ages. Yet another of the duo’s tales — the lesser-known The Girl Without Hands — received a then new cinematic adaptation in 2016 via Les Films Pelleas. That adaptation will receive its first ever home release later this month via GKids and Shout! Factory. While GKids is one of the movie’s distributors, it goes without saying that this movie is not one meant for kids. That is thanks to its story, which is one of the main elements to discuss in examining the movie’s upcoming home release. It is related at least in part to the movie’s animation, which will be discussed a little bit later. The bonus material included in the movie’s home release is the last, but not least, important element to discuss in examining this presentation. It adds its own interest and depth to the movie. Each element is important in its own way to this movie’s home presentation as will be pointed out here. All things considered, they make The Girl Without Hands a presentation that art film fans and brothers Grimm fans alike will appreciate.
Shout! Factory and GKids’ upcoming home release of Les Films Pelleas’ 2016 production of The Girl Without Hands is a presentation that art film fans and those of The Brothers Grimm will appreciate equally. That is due in part to the story at the center of this presentation. The story follows a young woman who is sold to the devil by her father, and eventually goes on a journey to escape the devil. Along the way, she meets the river spirit, who saves her life, and a prince, whom she ends up marrying and with whom she has a son. The story changes some of the elements of the original story in its translation from printed page to screen, but largely stays true to its source material. Purist fans of the Brothers Grimm stories will appreciate the fact that this adaptation did not stray too far from the original story. What’s more, the story’s pacing stays relatively stable from start to finish, too. This is important to note in the bigger picture of the story because the story is just shy of an hour and a half. Considering that this movie is based on a short story, that pacing is important to note because of how solidly it keeps the story moving. At no point will viewers ever find themselves fast forwarding thanks to the attention given to the pacing. On yet another level, it should be noted that while the movie will be distributed via GKids, this story is not one for kids. There is violence — the miller cutting off the girl’s hands, a baby deer being killed, etc. — as well as nudity — there are scenes in which the girl is shown totally nude top to bottom and other times when it’s partial — and even sex. Of course the sex isn’t shown. But it’s pretty obvious regardless. Keeping that in mind, while the story and its pacing are both critical to its presentation, it’s obvious that this movie is not meant for kids, despite being released via GKids. It is meant for adult audiences. Having noted this, the story is only one of the key elements to discuss in examining The Girl Without Hands. Its animation style is, believe it or not, important to its presentation, too.
The animation style used in this presentation is important to discuss because it isn’t just another cookie cutter digital cut and paste presentation. Each scene in the story was hand drawn. From the characters to the scenes themselves, everything was done by hand. Even more intriguing is the fashion in which each scene was animated. The animation is completely unlike anything that American audiences have seen in regards to hand drawn animation past or present. Even the characters themselves, who are drawn in a sort of blinking fashion, shows the advancement of each cel. This approach is discussed by director/writer Sebastien Laudenbach in the movie’s bonus making of featurette, too. His discussion explains in some depth to this topic, too, and is just one of the reasons why that bonus offering is important to the movie’s presentation. It will be discussed shortly. Getting back on the subject at hand, the animation used in this presentation creates full, rich scenes that look almost painted, not just drawn. This approach shows a real attention to such detail, and in tun to giving viewers a visual experience that they will not forget. While it might not be an approach that appeals to everyone — even being hand drawn — it still shows that there is a place for hand drawn animation in today’s overly digitized world. Keeping this in mind, it proves to be critical in its own right to this movie’s presentation, and is still not the last of the movie’s most important elements. Its bonus material rounds out its most important elements.
The bonus material that is included in the home release of The Girl Without Hands is important because of the depth that it adds to the movie. Audiences learn through Laudenbach’s interview that the approach taken to the animation was very deliberate. He explains that the brush strokes and making the characters basically flash gave them more identity and life. It’s an interesting thought, but makes at least some sense in the end. There is also discussion by Laudencbach about the movie’s life. He notes that the story of the movie’s creation goes all the way back to 2008. There were plenty of twists and turns along the way including issues with financial backing, getting rights to the story in certain formats and much more. Through it all the movie never died, leading to its eventual debut in its home nation in 2016, and now its forthcoming domestic home release. It’s an interesting story that adds a certain level of appreciation for the movie, even if one is not a fan of the story of The Girl Without Hands. Keeping this in mind, it becomes clear why the bonus making of featurette included with the movie is just as important to consider as the story and its animation. All three elements tie directly into one another, and in turn make this a presentation that again art film fans will appreciate just as much as fans of the Brothers Grimm’s often dark tales.
Shout! Factory and GKids’ forthcoming home release of The Girl Without Hands is a work that is certain to appeal to grown up fans of the art film world and those of the Brothers Grimm’s often dark tales. Set to be released in stores and online February 20, it definitely is not a movie for children, despite being released via GKids. That being noted, the movie’s adult viewers will appreciate the story, which stays largely true to its source material. The animation stands out starkly against both the cookie cuter digital animation that dominates the animation world today and every other animated movie past and present. The bonus interview with writer/director Sebastien Laudenbach offers its own interest because of the depth that it adds to not just the story but the animation, too. All three elements are clearly intertwined with one another, and through that connection, make the movie in whole a work that is certain to entertain its target art film fans and those of the Brothers Grimm. It can be pre-ordered online now via Shout! Factory’s online store. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:
More information on this and other titles from GKids is available online now at:
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