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Friday August 23, 2013 MYT 6:24:00 PM
Friday August 23, 2013 MYT 6:33:01 PM
The premise of this mixed media film was certainly interesting. You have live action with celebrated Chinese pianist Lang Lang and vivacious blonde actress Heather Graham, stop-motion animation from the team that produced the Academy Award-winning short Pete & The Wolf all bound together by the brilliant Etudes of Chopin. But while the intentions of the Polish producers were indeed noble – the film is meant to introduce the music of Chopin to a whole new audience through the use of creative animation – the delivery is a little discordant.
The film starts off well with Georgie (Graham) as a workaholic mum who’s been roped into taking her two children, Jane (Mee) and Fred (Munns), to a piano recital of Chopin’s Etudes by none other than Lang Lang. The children are extremely excited but Georgie is oblivious to everything as she is constantly on her smartphone the entire time. The concert begins and there is visual accompaniment in the form of a screening of The Magic Piano, a stop-motion animation film. This movie-within-a-movie turned out to be the most enjoyable part of the film as it tells the story of a little girl who is separated from her father when he loses his job and has to send his daughter to live with her aunt and cousin. They discover a piano discarded with other rubble and find out that it is a magical piano that can fly, taking them on an enchanted flight around Warsaw looking for the girl’s father. The whole sequence lasts around 30 minutes and is entirely without dialogue but the superb animation and the hugely expressive eyes in the otherwise expressionless faces are a delight.
After the concert, Georgie discovers that her children are nowhere to be found and proceeds to ask Lang Lang about them. This is where the film takes a bit of a dip in quality as the acting from the whole cast is generally wooden and slightly irritating. The children have apparently been transported to another dimension via a Flying Machine similar to the one in the animated sequence and Georgie follows in pursuit on another flying piano with Lang Lang at the helm. The children are exploring pivotal sites in Chopin’s life and their mother learns some valuable life lessons as she follows them.
The film’s wordless part is also its best but smaller children might find it a little difficult to understand the nuances in the animation although they will enjoy the riot of colours at play and everyone else in the family should enjoy the beautiful score. All in all this is an admirable attempt that delivers mixed results. - Review by S.N.
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