For the final time this summer, you can bring the kids for the stilt walkers and jugglers, for the popcorn, pizza and face-painting, for all the under-the-big-tent fun that is Cinema Circus at the Chilmark Community Center every Wednesday at 5 p.m. The main act, of course, is the movie. Here to review what’s on the big screen tomorrow — a collection of short films — is Island kid critic David Merkel.

Azur and Asmar, written and directed by Michel Ocelot, is a masterpiece of animation. It is a story of brotherhood and adventure. The film introduces us to Azur and Asmar, two children who consider themselves brothers. Both live in the house of Azur’s father. Asmar’s mother lives there, too; she is Azur’s beloved nanny who is employed to raise Azur.

Although the two children squabble and have frequent brawls, it is clear that they love and look out for each other. Throughout their childhoods, the nanny repeatedly tells the two boys the story of the “gin fairy.” The gin fairy is a beautiful, brilliant fairy who is locked away and can be freed only by one who has overcome treacherous obstacles to reach her. Both children are entranced by the story and each decides that he will be the one to liberate and marry the gin fairy.

Early on in the film, Azur’s cruel father suddenly and without warning forces Asmar and his mother to leave his house. This proves to be very damaging to the “brothers’” relationship, and they lose each other.

Many years later, Azur stands up to his father and goes against his will by leaving him to find the gin fairy. Soon after, Azur is shipwrecked and washes up on the island where his nanny and Asmar are living. Azur recognizes the language spoken there as “nanny’s language.” He talks to locals and soon finds out that because of a unique physical characteristic he possesses, he does not fit in.

Azur then meets a peculiar and dishonest man who acts as his guide through the country. The guide unintentionally leads Azur to his nanny and Asmar. The nanny has become very rich and is the wealthiest merchant in the town. When Azur shows up at her palace door, she does not believe that he is her beloved lost “son,” Azur. To her astonishment and delight, she realizes that it is, in fact, Azur. Once the nanny, Azur and Asmar are reunited, they figure out that both of the boys, who are now fully grown, want to liberate the gin fairy. The rest of the film is about their journeys to do so.

In many respects, Azur and Asmar tells a classic quest story. But what makes it remarkable and unique is the spectacular animation. The architecture is stunning, the colors, magnificent. The animated landscape, abundant with exquisitely drawn wildlife, flowers and trees, is extraordinary. Each individual image is so perfectly symmetric and beautiful that it gives the impression that it took hours to create. Even the shoes are drawn with great care. This film shows extreme dedication to detail; every scene is as beautifully animated as it can possibly be.

I am sure you will agree that this film is like no other. It is for all ages and not to be missed.


At 8 p.m. the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival screens the documentary No Impact Man, also at the Chilmark Community Center. Tickets are $6 for film festival members, $12 for the general public and $5 for kids.