Director: Stephan Schesch, Sarah Clara Weber
Cast: Katharina Thalbach, Ulrich Tukur
Running Time: 95 minutes
Release Date: December 27th
Celebrated children’s artist and writer of Moon Man Tomi Ungerer says that “There is a beauty in ugliness” and in many ways this sums up the charm of this animated adaptation. The film is not without its blemishes and it clearly shows signs of being a low-budget production, but this only adds to its oddly beautiful aesthetic, like a strange painting you can’t help but admire for hours.
The story follows the adventures of the Moon Man, the lonely ageless creature who lives on the moon, whose image all children use to help them sleep. One day, the Moon Man grabs onto a ‘fireball’ in space and uses it to carry him down to Earth where he hopes to make friends. There, the evil president of the world tries to use the presence of this extra-terrestrial to incite panic, attempting to make his own fireball so that he can conquer the moon (having conquered the rest of the world). Moon Man befriends a suitably eccentric professor who must help the alien escape back home before the President enslaves him and dominates the moon.
The film makes terrific use of Ungerer’s wiry art-style, but all of the characters remain perfectly palatable for animation. The environments all pop with an ethereal mysticism, despite the fact that many of them are static. The masterful use of incidental sound throughout the film is so mesmerising that it masks shortcomings relating to direct speech. Soldiers move like stacks of cards being shuffled and stand at attention like a hard metal gate being slammed closed. Spaceships chug along through the stars with the vroom of a motorbike. The film also acts as a perfect companion piece to Ungerer’s overall body of work, with some not-so-subtle sequences devoted to homaging his overt sexuality and erotic works.
Moon Man’s most considerable flaw is its pace, which may stagger along at a speed that is too ponderously slow for young children. Certain scenes linger beyond their welcome and the run time feels as though ten or fifteen minutes could be shaved off. However, this may even be blessing as its slower pace and distinctive lack of sleek is refreshing in a genre full of sarcasm and irony. A beautifully earnest film for children of all ages and for any parent who has forgotten what it is to be a child.