Cultural Stories in Animation

Cultural Stories in Animation

Folklores, legends, fairy tales and myths fascinate me.  Folklore is still a big part of Brazil's culture and I grew up being told the most amazing stories, as well as how they applied to my own life. As a result, these stories hold a special place in my heart and I think the tradition of passing on stories through generations is the only way to keep these stories alive and therefore, our history, experiences and achievements. 

Every country has its own list of folk stories, fairy tales or legends, each exploring human nature in a new way. The costumes in them are often full of symbolism and create a portal into another world. I have to confess I was bummed when I came to the United States and I found out that, as a country, your amazing stories and heroes are not as celebrated as they are in other nations. So I'm taking this opportunity to shine a light on cultural stories in animation, including some from the United States. 

When I watch these I like to analyze how they use the costumes. Do they play a big role in the story or are they more subtle, supporting the role of the character? How stylized are they? 

Let's take a look!

United states

John Henry

John Henry - The Legend of John Henry, the steel-driving man. This animation uses a more simplified approach of the costume but still keeping all the necessary features to show which Era it belongs to.

Paul Bunyan and Babe Blue Ox

The tale of giant lumberjack Paul Bunyan and his large blue ox Babe. In this animation the costumes are very stylized but with the masterful use of colors so you can clearly understand who everybody is. 

Johnny AppleSeed

The Legend of Johnny Appleseed is an animated short musical segment from the 1948 film Melody Time. 

The Legend of Johnny Appleseed is an animated short musical segment from the 1948 film Melody Time

IRISH

Song of the Sea

Song of the sea, 2014. Song of the sea is one of the examples where the costume is the star of the show and gives the character the power to transform. The white sealskin coat helps Saoirse transform herself into a seal. 

Song of the sea, 2014. Song of the sea is one of the examples where the costume is the star of the show and gives the character the power to transform. The white sealskin coat helps Saoirse transform herself into a seal. 

The secret of Kells

The secret of Kells, 2009. This animation shows a unique level of stylization, it's great to see how creative they were with the simplification of the costumes.

The secret of Kells, 2009. This animation shows a unique level of stylization, it's great to see how creative they were with the simplification of the costumes.

FRANCE

Kirikou and the Sorceress

Kirikou and the Sorceress, 1998. A look into West African folk tales.

Kirikou and the Sorceress, 1998. A look into West African folk tales.

PERSEPOLIS

Persepolis, 2007, France & Iran. This movie should be watched by all who are interested in costume design to understand the impact outfits have in our lives. 

Persepolis, 2007, France & Iran. This movie should be watched by all who are interested in costume design to understand the impact outfits have in our lives. 

BRAZIL

The boy and the world

The boy and the world, 2015. This a special one, look how simplified the costume is! 

The boy and the world, 2015. This a special one, look how simplified the costume is! 

 

RUSSIA

Prince Vladimir 

Prince Vladimir, 2006. This animated movie takes more a traditional and realistic approach to costumes. It is full of folk outfit, which is my favorite kind. 

Prince Vladimir, 2006. This animated movie takes more a traditional and realistic approach to costumes. It is full of folk outfit, which is my favorite kind. 

Do you know of more animated features that showcase folk costumes, or different levels of complexity? If you're from outside United States share your own country's animations and the traditional costumes too! If you're interested in the use of costumes in myths, legends and folklore, please share some of your thoughts or questions. We would love to hear back from you!  

Labyrinth 30th Anniversary Movie Review

Labyrinth 30th Anniversary Movie Review

Marvelous Designer Series - Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Marvelous Designer Series - Breakfast at Tiffany’s