Sunday, August 2, 2015

"Little From the Fish Shop" - A True-to-Tale Little Mermaid

Everything I've read about this film project is quite fascinating and I can't quite believe I've only recently learned of it. Little From the Fish Shop (malá z rybárny in Czech) is reportedly very faithful to the Hans Christian Andersen original text of The Little Mermaid, despite that it's setting is modern and on dry land. The stop motion animation puppets are delightfully different (I have some close-ups pictured in this post) oh and it's important to mention, despite being a fairy tale and made in an animated medium, it's not primarily aimed at, as the review below puns, "small fry".
Here's a summary from the official  Facebook page:
They were forced to abandon the familiar waters of their home, plundered by the humans, and move out onto dry land to live in a bustling harbor district. They’ve exchanged their underwater palace for a humble little fish shop. This is a story about the Sea King and his youngest daughter Little. Her days were filled with small pleasures and naive dreams about the life out there, then she saw J.J. for the first time and her heart came alive. She decided to accept the witch’s harsh curse. Forsaking her family Little took to the world of humans to follow her fatal love. Will the flame of her love burn bright or will it die in the deep waters of the sea?

Here are a couple of trailers, and I have to say, I'm quite fascinated by these glimpses!
 Here's an excerpt from a review in Variety:

Relocating not just Andersen’s yearning heroine but her entire royal family to dry land, Jan Balej’s wittily designed stop-motion outing honors the sorrowful romantic narrative of the original tale to a far greater extent than the Mouse House’s 1989 smash — despite a radical shift in milieu to the red-light district of a seamy city harbor. Not especially suitable for, er, small fry, this touching, technically inventive twist on a classic will nonetheless be treasured by animation buffs.  
...It’s no longer better down where it’s wetter, a somewhat elegiac prologue informs us, as we peer into silty depths made murkier by stray debris and floating garbage. The film’s ecological allegory is limited to this introduction, but it’s effective enough: So greatly have the oceans been polluted by humankind that not even the merfolk can survive in them. Instead, the Sea King and his family have been forced to move to the nearest port, where they learn to walk on their tails and work as fishmongers — about the most drastically macabre betrayal of their natural environment imaginable. (The fishiness of Balej’s merpeople extends well past their lower halves: Glassy round eyes and perma-pouts suggest rampant interspecific breeding in the fathoms below.) 

As in Andersen’s tale, then, the King’s youngest daughter — simply named Little — develops a fascination with human behavior, albeit one cultivated at closer quarters. Forbidden from exiting the family shop before her 16th birthday, she enters the outside world a mass of vulnerable, pent-up curiosity, swiftly and unguardedly falling in love with older lothario JJ.
Note: look at all those laurels! That's something to take note of. I really hope we get a chance to see it in the US, UK and Australia. (Dubbing shouldn't be an issue, as apparently the 'speaking sounds' are mostly nonsensical and as a result, fairly universal.)
You can read the whole review HERE (possible spoilers though). If you don't want to spoil anything for yourself you may be interested to know this is doing well with critics, both for the story portrayal/translation and the use of stop motion and 'grotesque' design ('grotesque' here, meaning the art movement style, which works well for the fishy features, not meaning that it's difficult to look at necessarily).
The film is currently screening in the Czech Republic along with what appears to be a truly delightful exhibition of puppets, sets, 3D printing and interactive experiences for children and adults and behind-the-scenes fare.
It also has 'festival slots' at Annecy and Karlovy Vary, which point to a distinct likelihood that it will get picked up for international distribution soon.


  1. Looks really interesting! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Where can I purchase a copy of this dvd? Thank you.