Tender French Animation

The critically acclaimed Ernest & Celestine from France was too good not to get a sequel, earning an Oscar nomination and landing big Hollywood names like Forest Whitaker, Lauren Bacall and Paul Giamatti for its English dub. Over a decade later, Ernest and Celestine: A Trip to Gibberitia gives us another wonderful, uplifting adventure based on the characters from Belgian author Gabrielle Vincent’s beloved children’s books. The wait has been worth it, a joyous ode to friendship and life beautifully animated in a style only the French could pull off.

Showcasing the friendship between a grouchy street musician bear and an adorable little mouse, Ernest and Celestine: A Trip to Gibberitia is simple, unpretentious storytelling made for all ages. Expanding the world surrounding these characters, the sequel helps fill in Ernest’s backstory explaining why this bear is such a troubadour and musical savant.

Ernest and Celestine: A Trip to Gibberitia is a lovely sequel worthy of the name

Ernest is coaxed into visiting his hometown of Gibberitia when Celestine accidentally breaks the bear’s precious violin. Having been away from home for years,  Ernest is shocked to discover music has been banned there and learns what his family has been doing in his absence. Ernest, Celestine, and a few friends they meet along the way like a masked bear, have to right this terrible wrong by forming a musical resistance.

The music from composer Vincent Courtois plays a key role as Ernest’s one passion in life is music. Gibberitia’s daily life and family pressures are a focus as we learn more about Ernest’s parents and their place in Gibberitia’s firmament.

Apparently the women in Ernest’s family are supposed to become doctors, while the men are to become judges like his stern father. It’s a message which resonates with young and old, told with sweet and lively characters. Celestine’s excitement visiting Gibberitia is charming fun as Ernest introduces her to his family and friends.

Nicely paced as it expands the world these characters inhabit, Ernest and Celestine: A Trip to Gibberitia is a lovely sequel worthy of the original film. While the story doesn’t reinvent the wheel, the carefully crafted animation is a hand-drawn gem. The warm, friendly tale is a welcome respite full of humanity for all ages. More importantly, the engaging new characters are a fine addition.

Video

The traditional, hand-drawn French animation used for Ernest & Celestine: A Trip to Gibberitia is like delicate watercolor brushstrokes brought to life. Unmistakably French in nature, the 1.85:1 presentation is artistry of the highest level, a rare treat in 1080p resolution. GKIDS has issued the animated film in superb Blu-ray video quality, licensing the movie from StudioCanal.

The main feature runs 80 minutes in a smooth AVC encode on a BD-50. This disc gets you very close to the digital master, a technically astute transfer worth enjoying on a big screen. Maybe a small touch of banding, though it’s difficult assessing if that was baked into the animation itself.

Colors are gentle, worrying more about texture and nuance than the oversaturated fare we normally get from modern animation. Motion is a bit limited, there’s more focus on the art’s gorgeous rendering than the incredibly fluid 2-D animation we sometimes see in say Japan’s anime industry. Backgrounds are infused with vitality and detail, plucked straight from a children’s book.

Audio

The original French soundtrack and a well-done English dub both receive accomplished 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtracks. The French lead voices from the first Ernest & Celestine both return, popular French actor Lambert Wilson is back as Ernest with Pauline Brunner reprising Celestine. The English dub is not quite as fortunate, as Andrew Kishino (Ernest) and Ashley Boettcher (Celestine) fill in for Forest Whitaker and Mackenzie Foy.

The surround mixes are a pure delight of clean dialogue and musical genius, immersively filling the entire soundstage. Lively and robust, music swirls as discrete effects pepper the often comical action. Dynamics are effortless with enough LFE presence and extension to keep things interesting.

Optional English, English SDH and Spanish subtitles play in a white font.

Extras

GKIDS includes several bonus features on top of the enviable A/V quality. Arriving in a glossy slipcover, the disc is coded for Region A. Special features are primarily in French audio with English subtitles offered.

Making Of Featurette (15:51 in HD) – By modern standards this is a quality, in-depth piece broken up into six chapters which delves into the film from several different angles. After comments from the co-directors, two lead French actors, and producers, the featurette moves into areas like the hand-drawn animation process.

Interview with the Directors (12:16 in HD) – Co-directors Julien Chheng (Star Wars: Visions) and Jean-Christophe Roger (New Adventures of Lassie) discuss their collaboration and how they shaped the film together.

Interview with the Cast (11:16 in HD) – Returning from the first film, French actors Lambert Wilson (the voice of Ernest) and Pauline Brunner (Celestine) discuss their characters’ appeal and comforting approach.

Interview with Producer Didier Brunner (10:45 in HD)

How to Draw Ernest & Celestine (01:48 in HD) – A brief featurette featuring co-director Jean-Christophe Roger.

Ernest & Celestine: A Trip To Gibberitia Trailers (03:22 in HD) – English Dub trailer and original French trailer are included.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided by the label for review. This has not materially affected DoBlu’s editorial process. For information on how we handle all review material, please visit DoBlu’s about us page.

Ernest & Celestine: A Trip to Gibberitia
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
4

Movie

Gorgeous French animation and wonderful music fill this excellent sequel to the Oscar-nominated children’s classic

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User Review
5 (2 votes)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 36 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots ripped directly from the Blu-ray:


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