|Directed by||Rémi Bezançon |
|Produced by||Christophe Jankovic|
|Written by||Rémi Bezançon|
|Music by||Laurent Perez|
|Edited by||Sophie Reine|
|Distributed by||Pathé Distribution|
|Box office||$11.3 million|
Zarafa is a 2012 French-Belgian animated film directed by Rémi Bezançon and Jean-Christophe Lie. It was released on 8 February 2012 in France. The story was inspired by a historical giraffe known today as Zarafa.
Set in the early 19th Century, the story tells of Maki (Max Renaudin), a ten-year-old orphaned Sudanese boy who has been sold into slavery with his friend Soula. He escapes the villainous slave trader Moreno (Thierry Frémont) and comes across a young giraffe and its mother. Moreno catches up to Maki and kills the mother giraffe. Maki promises the calf's mother that he'll protect and nurture her. Just as Moreno is about to take him to his slave camp, Hassan, a Bedouin nomad (Simon Abkarian), intervenes and saves his life. Maki follows Hassan as soon as he takes the giraffe with him. Hassan names the giraffe Zarafa (Arabic for "giraffe") and reluctantly agrees to take care of Maki and Zarafa. They come across a merchant, Mahmoud, who gives them two Tibetan cows, Mounh and Sounh. Maki discovers Soula being forced into slave labor by Moreno. When the evil man turns his attention on Maki, Soula hits him with a palm leaf, but before Moreno can beat her with his whip, Maki cries out for her and Hassan steps in. Maki thanks Hassan for saving him.
Hassan is on a mission to the Pasha of Egypt, Mehemet Ali, who wants to offer a young giraffe to the King of France, Charles X, to convince him to unite his country against the Turks besieging Alexandria. Maki and Hassan join together with the aeronaut Malaterre (François-Xavier Demaison), who agrees to take Zarafa to Paris via a hot air balloon. Hassan convinces Maki to leave Zarafa, but Malaterre thinks otherwise, seeing Maki's determination, and takes the boy with them. The basket gets heavy, so the cows jump overboard, and Hassan unwittingly tosses Maki after them, as Maki is hidden in a bale of hay. Maki and the two cows land on a pirate ship, where they come across the pirate queen Bouboulina and her ragtag crew. Maki explains that he is in pursuit of a treasure of great value aboard the balloon. Instead of taking him prisoner, Bouboulina welcomes Maki to her crew. Meanwhile, Moreno is determined to hunt down Maki and arrives on shore with Soula in tow. Bouboulina and her crew rescue Maki and scare off Moreno and his henchmen. The group continues on their journey. During a perilous crossing of the mountains where the balloon crashed, one of the cows is taken by a pack of wolves.
Hassan, Maki, Malaterre, and the surviving cow eventually reach Paris. The cynical King Charles accepts the gift but refuses to help the Pasha. Zarafa is shut away in the city zoo, and Maki stays firm about returning the giraffe to her home. Moreno kidnaps him and forces him to work in his household. Hassan is ashamed that he had failed his mission and mortified to have lost Maki, so he sinks into despair and alcohol. As several years pass, Zarafa's appearance causes "giraffe mania" and she grows up. Maki finds himself at zoo with Soula. King Charles is receiving a new hippopotamus, and, remembering an experience he had with one before meeting Hassan, Maki tells Soula to hold up her parasol. Maki does the same and the hippo squirts a colossal pile of dung onto King Charles and his subjects, giving the children enough time to make a getaway. They manage to find Malaterre and Maki plans to escape with Zarafa in the hot air balloon. The trio locate Hassan, but the nomad is unable to help them, since he has become an alcoholic. They rush to free Zarafa, but now she is too large to fit into the balloon. Maki realizes that he must give up Zarafa and escape with Soula. Moreno appears and prepares to kill Maki, but Hassan steps in to protect them and is shot. Aided by Malaterre, Maki and Soula escape in the balloon. Moreno gives chase, but the two friends bite him and he falls off the basket and into an enclosure where he is devoured by a polar bear. Maki and Soula return home, marry, and found a flourishing new village. Hassan, treated at the hospital, survives his wounds and falls in love with Bouboulina.
As it turns out, the storyteller is actually Maki himself.
- Max Renaudin as Maki
- Simon Abkarian as Hassan
- Sjaak Caderyn as Hassan
- Abraham Adesoye as Pika
- François-Xavier Demaison as Malaterre
- Vernon Dobtcheff as Le vieux sage
- Roger Dumas as Charles X
- Ronit Elkabetz as Bouboulina
- Mohamed Fellag as Mahmoud
- Déborah François as Zarafa adulte
- Thierry Frémont as Moreno
- Dazzy Iannuzzio Bogo
- Madigan Kacmar as Traore
- Philippe Morier-Genoud as Saint-Hilaire
- Joe Ochman as Malaterre (as B.J. Oakie)
- Chinua B. Payne as Lumba
- Mike Pollock as Zuma
- Clara Quilichini as Soula
- Scott Rayow as Moreno (as Scottie Ray)
- Cindy Robinson as Bouboulina
- Erica Schroeder as Zarafa
- Jason Simon as Charles X
- Zariah Singletary as Deka
- Michael Sorich as Mahmoud
- Joel Stigliano as Pacha
- Mostéfa Stiti as Pacha
- Raeusi Uraeus as Maki
- Wayne Grayson as Demis
- Nýa-Jolie Walters as Soula
Background and controversy
The film was based on the historical event, of the Giraffe given to Charles X of France by Muhammad Ali of Egypt, and Rémi Bezançon wanted to make a film of it as soon as he heard about it, and was also keen to explore the issue of slavery in a film.
The film was accused of distorting the historical facts about how the giraffe was treated, and the Museum d'histoire naturelle created a temporary exhibition entitled « The True story of Zarafa » to present its own version of history. But mostly it received positive reviews from critics.
|Award||Category||Recipients and nominees||Result|
|Annie Awards||Directing in a Feature Production||Rémi Bezançon and Jean-Christophe Lie||Nominated|
|César Award||Best Animated Film||Rémi Bezançon and Jean-Christophe Lie||Nominated|
- JP. "Zarafa (2012)- JPBox-Office". www.jpbox-office.com.
- "Prochaines SORTIES CINÉMA en France". Animeland.com (in French). 2012-02-01. Retrieved 2012-02-01.
- "In focus: Rémi Bezançon & Jean-Christophe Lie on Zarafa".
- "Zarafa: Berlin Film Review".
- Audrey Chauvet (7 February 2012). "Zarafa, la girafe qui fait polémique »". 20 minutes.