Ernest & Célestine: A Trip to Gibberitia (Ernest et Célestine: Le voyage en Charabie) (2022) [Blu-Ray]

Now Available from Shout! Factory and GKIDS.

I’ll be the first to admit that I had no idea what “Ernest & Célestine” was or that it had its own series, as well as a feature film. The good thing about “Ernest & Célestine: A Trip to Gibberitia” is that you don’t really have to go back and see the previous material to understand what’s happening. Basically, it’s all so beautifully animated like a moving storybook and is the tale of the love between a big bear and a small female mouse. Named Ernest & Célestine, there is a story of friendship but there’s also an unspoken true love that’s very punctuated in the final scene of the film.

Ernest and Celestine are travelling back to Ernest’s country, Gibberitia, to fix his broken violin. This exotic land is home to the best musicians on earth and music constantly fills the air with joy. However, upon arriving, our two heroes discover that all forms of music have been banned for many years – and for them, a life without music is unthinkable. Along with their friends and a mysterious masked outlaw, Ernest and Celestine must try their best to bring music and happiness back to the land of bears.

The rest of the movie is the classic Roald Dahl/Maurice Sendak kids far that emphasizes the joy of friendship, and love, but also commits to mature themes about fascism and realizing your true potential. When Ernest is drawn back to his country and faced with his family he’s forced to confront his own passion for music and fulfilling a long legacy of judges. This conflicts with the local authorities that have taken to arresting people for making music and generally seizing musical notes from people. Ernest has to figure out if he really wants to fight to maintain his passion for music.

All the while his trusty comrade and best friend Célestine integrates herself in to Ernest’s town and looks for a way to put a stop on the horribly fascistic laws about artistic expression. Again, despite being heavy on the social themes, “Ernest & Célestine: A Trip to Gibberitia” is light hearted fare with some beautiful music, top notch voice work and just aesthetically pleasing animation. There isn’t much that’s demanded from the audience and it spends a lot of its time expressing the sheer creativity and wonderful ways in creating such a vivid and unique world. That said, I wish the voice work for the English dub had been stronger, but that doesn’t hinder what is such an enjoyable contribution to the animation medium.

“Ernest & Célestine: A Trip to Gibberitia” is an absolutely lovely celebration of music, and a wonderful tale of friendship and love that I couldn’t get enough of.

Shout! Studios and GKIDS offer up a fifteen minute Making of, a brief featurette compiling interviews with producers Damien Brunner and Didier Brunner, co-directors Jean-Christophe Roger and Julien Chheng, and production footage from the animation studios. We’re given an inside look at the team working on the feature, hoping to preserve the legacy of the books while giving excited fans a sequel deserving of the name. There’s a twelve minute Interview with the Directors Jean-Christophe Roger and Julien Chheng both of whom discuss inspirations, their collaboration, and the challenges of bringing the film to life.

There’s the eleven minute Interview with the Cast including Lambert Wilson and Pauline Brunner, And the ten minute Interview with the Producer Didier Brunner who offers their responses to questions regarding the film’s underlying messages on tolerance and totalitarian leadership. There’s the adorable two minutes How to Draw Ernest & Celestine with co-director Jean-Christophe Roger, who provides a brief art lesson for audiences. Finally, there’s the English Dub Trailer along with the original French Trailer.