Tuesday, 25 January 2011

The Illusionist - a Gaelic movie running for an Oscar

Great news from LA, where The Illusionist has been shortlisted for the Oscars.

Strictly speaking The Illusionist, written and directed by Sylvain Chomet, is a French animation based in Scotland but the beautiful, crystal-clear Gaelic dialogue provided by Eilidh Rankin gives the film a wonderful resonance with its 1950s Edinburgh and Highland setting.

Most of plot and the charm in Chomet's hand-drawn animation relies on show-not-tell miming, with muffled dialogue heard through plate glass or in situations where only a garbled word or two in French or English is distinguishable.

That is until Rankin gives voice to the character of Alice, the Highland girl who accompanies the down-and-out "Illusionist", back to Edinburgh. Eilidh has laid down some of the sweetest Gaelic to grace a recording booth and her contribution gives the film a real lift.

Maybe I'm being sentimental because I saw it in the Edinburgh Cameo, which features in the film; or maybe it's because I'd enjoyed some great Gaelic company before going on to the cinema that cold November afternoon; but go and see it and be charmed yourself by this genuine piece of creativity and craftsmanship.

Chomet, the director of the highly-acclaimed 2003 Belleville Rendezvous, adapted the story from an unproduced script by Jacques Tati. He relocated the action to Edinburgh after falling in love with the city during a visit to the annual film festival.

I think he received precious little financial help in Scotland with the development of the movie but everyone will wish him the best of luck in the animated film category where he is a giant slayer in competition against Toy Story 3 and How to Train your Dragon. Beannachd leibh.

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