Kirikou and the Sorceress (1998)

8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great African style art

Nudity might not be for everyone

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Kirikou and the Sorceress

Studio:  France 3 Cinema

Genre(s):  Animated/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Drama

Release Date(s):  December 9, 1998

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated


I’m not a witch…just misunderstood

Kirikou is born from his mother and immediately finds himself in a battle for the life of his village.  With an evil sorceress named Karaba having already taken most of the men of the village, Kirikou must find a way to outsmart and stop the witch before his people are destroyed.  Though only a baby and constantly underestimated, Kirikou is determined to set his people free and learn why Karaba has proceeded in her evil ways.

Written and directed by Michel Ocelot, Kirikou and the Sorceress (with the original French title of Kirikou et la Sorcière) is an animated film which draws on African folklore as its basis.  The movie was critically acclaimed upon its release and the story was adapted into a musical Kirikou et Karaba in 2007.


Well…you don’t see that in every kid’s picture…

The movie was met with some controversy upon its release.  The story being set in a village in West Africa used a more traditional African style for the art which contained not only nudity but a birth scene.  With this in mind, parents have to be careful when showing Kirikou to children if they don’t want to have to possibly answer questions about the content.

I love folktales and folklore and Kirikou feels like one long tale.  Despite being “African” the story contains many aspects which are universal to folk stories all over the world.  A poisoned barb turning a woman into a villain is like Kai’s heart going cold in The Snow Queen, Kirikou is much like the clever fox of tales who can outsmart other characters, and the fetishes (who are the enslaved men of the village) remind me of enchanted characters in various tales like Beauty and the Beast.  It does help to make the story feel like something you’ve heard before…in a good way that doesn’t alienate any viewer.


Take that skunk!!!

What could alienate some viewers is the nudity in the picture.  The female characters are all presented topless and Kirikou is a naked baby.  It is a bit jarring to watch at points in a world where almost any nudity is an automatic R-Rating and is a bit of a throwback to when National Geographic was the only place a kid could see nudity.  The more disturbing part of the film which inevitably would lead to questions with kids is Kirikou’s birth at the film’s onset where he literally crawls from his mother’s womb and severs his own umbilical cord…it was a little more graphic than I even expected.


Sadly, the squirrels then ate Kirikou

The art for the film is great.  It does have basic in traditional African art and a lot of style.  Growing up, I always remember a Reading Rainbow episode which featured a reading of the children’s book Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain…this reminds me a lot of this story and brings back good memories.

Kirikou is a fun movie, but it definitely isn’t for everybody, and parents shouldn’t pop in the movie for their kids without some explaining or they can expect to answer some questions.  The movie was dubbed in English and followed by a 2005 sequel (which actually occurs during this story) called Kirikou and the Wild Beast (Kirikou et les bêtes sauvages) and another sequel which also takes place during this story called Kirikou and the Men and Women (Kirikou et les Hommes et les Femmes) in 2012.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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