Also with: Souleyman Koly, Were Were Liking, Salif Keita, Jean-Rene de Fleurieu.
Twenty-five weeks of widescreen lensing in Ivory Coast, Zimbabwe, Niger and Morocco is all up on the screen in “L’Enfant Lion,” a family-oriented yarn about an African kid who bonds from birth with a lion cub. Pic has been a steady draw at Gallic wickets since roaring on to screens in mid-June.
Presold by Odyssey in many territories, it should delight youngsters and impress adults. Large amount of voiceover narration makes foreign dubbing a snap.
Two African children, Oule and Lena (winningly played by non-pros cast in Ivory Coast), are enslaved, sold to a desert prince and held in his walled palace. Via a long flashback narrated by Lena, we learn of Oule’s childhood in Pama village. He became inseparable from a lion, Sirga, born the same day he was , as well as becoming pally with all members of the animal kingdom, from snakes and scorpions to antelopes and bees. He also communicated with trees, wind and fire.
Narrative comes full circle 45 minutes later when evil horsemen descend on the village, slaughter the adults and enslave the children. Oule, who can also roar like a lion, uses his special powers to escape from bondage.
Tricks include summoning a swarm of bees to heal his festering shoulder wound , and an impressive desert tornado to rescue Lena.
Creature sequences have a wonderful spontaneity and are completely convincing. Although the v.o. narration is sometimes choppy, visuals are stunning throughout. Fine sound design complements the displays of Oule’s magical powers, and pic offers pleasant African songs and chants overseen by Malian musician Salif Keita.