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The Tale of Despereaux in our magazines

THE MOVIE: The Tale of Despereaux

(voices) Matthew Broderick • Dustin Hoffman • Emma Watson • Sigourney Weaver
DIRECTOR: Sam Fell & Rob Stevenhagen

Noble mouse Despereaux THE CONCEPT:
In the Land of Dor, an accident has left the King broken-hearted, his daughter, Princess Pea (Watson) is locked away in the castle and the sunlight that used to surround the land disappears. But under the kingdom in Mouseworld, little Despereaux Tilling (Broderick) is born, who is graced with oversized ears and a brave heart. He and the banished rat Roscuro (Hoffman) set out to save the princess and bring light back to the world of Dor.

U.S. RELEASE: December 19 2008, Nationwide
• Rated: G


DespereauxďI really loved the story and I didnít particularly think of him as a mouse. I figured once they did the drawings it would be clear that he was a mouse. I thought of him as a boy trying to turn into a man, and I tried to take it seriously and think of it like my own life, so I didnít think too much about his mouseness.Ē

EMMA WATSON on the difference between this fairy tale and Harry Potter:
ďThe Land of Dor feels quite magical so I guess it has that in common with Harry Potter. And also The Tale of Despereaux is based on a book, by Kate DiCamillo. Apart from that I think theyíre very different stories, and have very different messages.
Princess Pea and DespereauxDespereaux has such a strong character and identity of its own. Also it was so fun for me to work in a completely different medium, doing an animated feature, Iíd never done that before, and it was a lot of fun and Iím massively proud of it.Ē

Dustin HoffmanďI think I worked on Kung Fu Panda first, but this was very different to the Ďman in the glass booth,í this was much more interactive. It was quite wonderful because Gary Ross (the producer of the film) had other actors in the room, and we not only sat at the table trying to interact, but he had us moving around and he had guy with a boom following us. And I thought if this film doesnít turn out good, Iím going to kill him.Ē

SIGOURNEY WEAVER (the narrator):
Sigourney WeaverďI think I was the person they started with, because the narrator has to usher people into this world and introduce these characters, and it was really exciting to be that person, who Gary described as childrenís eccentric aunt with a cigarette. At one point he brought in a couple of interns for me to talk to, because I really wanted the sense of telling this story to children, because it gets very scary sometimes and I wanted them to know that I was always with them and I would take care of them, and Iíd get them back to the light.Ē

Matthew BroderickďIíve actually done a few [animated movies] now. This one was particularly detailed, and I remember moving around too, which I had never done before, even when we recorded we were in a big room with boom mics, so it was very natural feeling. You see sketches of your character, you read it, and then you have to trust the people who tell you what their plans are. You record a little, then they animate a little and you get more of a feeling for what they mean, as you see more, and your character grows into what itís going to be over a couple of years. Itís very interesting and fun for the actor.Ē

Emma WatsonďIt did take me a little bit of time [to adjust to the recording booth], because when you work on a film you do voice recording and if anything goes wrong you do a couple of days of ADR. A lot of my performance is quite physical in the film because Iíve been kidnapped and thereís a rat in my room. Itís was hard trying to get all of that into my voice Ė being emotional, out of breath and screaming. I was actually given a toy Despereaux who I could speak to, so I had a substitute.Ē

ďI used my own experience telling stories to my daughter, because I think that you have to actually draw pretty deeply into whoever your storyteller is, and in Kateís book she is very strong, charming, I think itís one of the nicest introductions to a book ever written for families. My daughter was a little too old to actually read this story aloud to her, but we read all the Harry Potterís out loud, and I didnít realize until I sat down next to Emma that she was Hermione, we worship her!Ē

ďWhen movies first started as far as I can tell, because I was there, it was silent and when you went to the rushes you looked to see what you could do better, it was cheap, and the Chaplinís and the Keatonís they would redo 90% of it. They could spend all the time in the world if they wanted making these movies; and these animated films, which get extraordinary writers, directors and animators, will spend two, three years and it is the way a movie should be made, it canít because of the money, but like any other art form, painting or writing, you can go back and redo and redo. You donít have to get it right the first time, and I like that.Ē

BRODERICK on a possible sequel:
ďI donít know. I think itís shockingly beautiful, animation seems to keep changing and growing, and this is a very special one. Itís such a complete story, everything happened that was meant to, itís such a satisfying story, but Iím certainly available.Ē

Despereaux attends school in Mouseworld

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

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Images above © Universal Pictures
Feature © 2008 Visual Imagination.
Not for reproduction.

Film Review, #701, December 2008 cover

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