The Sorceress

Who said girls couldn’t be engineers? And seriously, who needs a prince in shining armor when you have a metal dragon spitting cannonballs with its butt? Awesomeness ahead.

This time, our boy wants to fight against a sorceress, making the girl feel that they’ll need a princess. And what’s better than a dozens of princes ready to save a damsel in distress? To spice up things a bit, the girl suggests to give the sorceress an impregnable fortress. They check how the folks used to besiege castles back in the days but also how they could parry, and the results have them excited.

Time to get dressed with the brilliant costume machine. Deciding on a peasant outfit, the boy declares he won’t be a prince, but still wants to be as strong as one. My, haven’t things changed?

The old technician: Are you ready? (Vous êtes prêts?)

Boy and Girl: Yes! (Oui!)

The old technician: The Sorceress (La sorcière)

In a kingdom plagued with a sorceress, a herald proclaims that whoever would get rid of her shall be granted the hand of the king’s daughter. Listening among the crowd, a humble commoner affirms that he’ll be the one entering the castle, which earns him some hearty laughs.

Everyone looks at the mysterious citadel from afar, wondering how it’d look inside since no one ever managed to enter. They all freak out when the sorceress appears to “welcome” one of the princes ready to challenge her. He comes with a super large batting-ram, letting his soldiers forcefully propel it while he already smile in victory. Well, until the engine breaks, that is. Popping her head for a second, the sorceress snickers. Sorceress:1 – Princes: 0.

Sitting on a branch, our hero comments: “That’s ridiculous.” An old man sarcastically enjoins him to do better, but he replies that he’s still not ready.

An other prince arrives, with yet another huge batting-ram. How creative, guys. Just when they think he’s gonna make it, we see the sorceress running and pulling a lever, resulting in the doors automatically clutching onto the metal bar. The soldiers dig their heels and pull with all their strength, heave-ho style, and even the sorceress playfully encourages them before releasing the door’s grasp, sending the whole troup flying. Sorceress: 2 – Princes: 0.

Amused, the crowd asks the young boy if he’s still preparing his attack but he simply states that he’s “observing”, indifferent to the guffaws. People prefer to bet on more proactive princes, like the new one showing off his artillery, with a row of cannons poiting at the castle.

His maneuver kinda pays off, as cannonballs effectively breach the sorceress’ fortifications. But she hasn’t said her last word and activates a mechanical dragon which eats the cannonballs to better expel them from..err..behind. Genius! Still, DON’T DO THAT AT HOME! All this awesomeness almost made me forget. Sorceress: 3 – Princes: 0.

Other attempts fail pathetically, even when one of the princes tries to destroy the fortress using fire, as the sorceress proves herself (and her castle) clever and resourceful. Visibly put off by such a fiasco, the folks believe no one will dare present himself to the task. And of course, this is precisely the moment our hero decides to step up.

He confidently walks towards the castle, accompanied by the laughs. Some people mockingly point at his tiny dagger but stop when he takes it off without a second thought. They begin to worry about him though the boy doesn’t seem afraid in the slightest.

Facing the beast head looking doors, he simply….knocks! How come I didn’t think about it before? Politely asking if he can enter, he sees the doors automatically open before him, to the crowd’s utter bewilderment. Inside, he’s greeted by the sorceress: “You’re the first who thought about asking me for permission to enter my house. I welcome you.” Aw, yeah!

She offers to show him around the castle, which is pretty much the exact thing he hoped she’d do. And indeed, there are wonderful things to discover, from her large library gathering a worldwide collection to her workshop where she creates her machines. But her garden is a real piece of art, conceived as to receive the sun’s light meters below, thanks to an ingenious use of mirrors.

The boy is speechless faced with the beauty of her lake, which she sometimes has to resort to when there’s fire, but that is rather meant for her enjoyment. He tells her to drop her helmet since she doesn’t need to fear attacks anymore. She complies, but explains that she didn’t expect a visit and bashfully says that her hair doesn’t look good.

Her security system relays the festivities going on outside, to celebrate the boy’s victory. The sorceress tells him that people must be coming to get him to the king, and ruefully comments: “Your visit was short.”

She guessed right, as we see the king’s escort declaring the boy victorious and worthy of the princess. Everyone loudly cheers when he appears on the balcony, shamelessly forgetting that they were the very ones belittling him hours ago, and the hero does salute them before asking for silence.

I thank His Majesty the King and pay my respects to the princess, whom I won’t marry!

Cue gaping mouths.

I prefer the Sorceress! I stay with her!

After a short moment of surprise, it’s the witch turn to laugh. But fear not: she offers him a happy, cheerful one.

Impressions:

Contrary to the first two tales, this one isn’t based on an existing fairy tale, and is an original script that shows Michel Ocelot’s take on the traditional “Kill the witch, Win the princess” plot.

Though we know that the twelfth century in Europe was a period of intense transformations in the intellectual, political or technological fields, we can’t deny that it’s dark times weigh heavily on our minds (hello, Black Death). And so, I don’t think we would automatically think to the Middle Ages, if asked which period was the most courteous.

So, it’s even more clever to have the impregnable fortress conquered through…manners! All it took to enter it was simply to ask the supposedly wicked witch. That raises the question: would you let some insufferably rude machos enter your house? I’m sure no one would, but how many have tried to put themselves in the sorceress’ shoes at the beginning of the story?

As soon as we heard “Sorceress”, we found it only logical that an army of violent princes tried to force their way in the castle. That’s scary. Think a little about the power of rumors, and you’ll get what I mean. And for what? A princess you’ve never met and with whom you don’t know what you’d have in common. Of course, it happens in every other tale, but I loved that the boy took the time to exchange with the sorceress, and enjoyed her company.

The little tour within the fortress made it even more obvious that they shared the same interests, and prepared us for the big move: at last, we have a “prince” ready to reject the “better choice” to choose the more interesting witch. It tells us that more than appearances and fortune, you need to be on the same page with your partner and understands (if not love) his or her hobbies.

That’s what it takes, if you want to create such terrific pets.

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8 thoughts on “The Sorceress

  1. When I got a message in my email inbox about this post, I first wondered which J-drama you were talking about that I might have missed (I don’t feel there is much to watch at the moment – although I recently also marathoned Kekkon Shinai – one episode to go). But now that I found time to actually read your post I see it’s not J related at all! Such gorgeous images…. There is a Tales of the Night screening in London in January… I should find time (and money) to attend it!

    • haha, I intended to finish this movie LAST YEAR!! I heard 2012 was the year of the time-travel dramas, looks like I’ll need to borrow a machine myself.
      So, how’s Kekkon Shinai? I wanted to watch it, but then I’d have to watch the (now) long pile of dramas I’ve put on the back burner…Truth is, I’m not too scared to pick one..Will you believe me if I say I’ve still not watched RMPW last 4 episodes?

      • Yeah, I think the Korean drama world there was Rooftop Prince (watched most of it), Queen Inhyun’s Man (didn’t see it, but everyone seems to have loved it), Faith (lost me after 6 or 7 eps) and Dr. Jin (didn’t see it, but apparently it was so bad that it was funny).

        I both like and don’t like Kekkon Shinai. I like the characters, all the three main ones and some of the side characters. What troubles me is that it’s a drama that poses to be about modern women who have choices and don’t need to have marriage as a goal, but the way it sets it up still leaves me with the feeling that in truth that’s not what the producers believe. Because a) I think everyone in the drama will end up married (I’ll know for sure next week) and b) other than all the various side characters being traditional in that way in order to put pressure on the main younger female character (which I think is to be expected, since that’s the driving the plot), there is the fact that we get the story through three main characters, Chiharu, Haruko and Junpei but that it’s only through the females that we get the sense that it’s either marriage or failure. With Chiharu it’s like that from the beginning – despite the fact the producers are pretending that Chiharu (35) doesn’t know better and is slowly learning to find her own way thanks to Haruko (who’s 44 and not married by choice) BUT I’m not really convinced by her changing, given some of her actions in later episodes. Haruko is certainly more independent and presents that more modern, free woman but, as I said, they are also driving her towards marriage (as if to say that’s the only ‘happy ever after’). Meanwhile, Junpei (32) is the only guy in the mix and while he is part of the love line, what we get from his perspective isn’t imprinted by ‘marriage marriage marriage’ at all.

        Maybe it’s just a reflection of Japanese society – something cultural that I just can’t entirely relate to – but if they all end up married (esp. Haruko), I think that message ‘modern woman can make any choice’ falls through.

        I also have to cringe when people seriously propose (and more) when they have met someone only for a few days. It’s just not something that makes sense to me – and I’m not talking about the omiai (which is strange to me also, but I get that that exists).

      • Nearly forgot (after written too much about a drama you haven’t watched) – I can’t believe you haven’t finished RMPW yet!!!

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