You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Black Mor’s Island

A modest but solidly constructed toon cousin to "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Master and Commander," Jean-Francois Laguionie's "Black Mor's Island" follows a 15-year-old would-be pirate on a singular hunt for buried treasure. Handsome visuals and an especially classy instrumental score make this a quality adventure for kids.

A modest but solidly constructed toon cousin to “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Master and Commander,” Jean-Francois Laguionie’s “Black Mor’s Island” follows a 15-year-old would-be pirate on a singular hunt for buried treasure. Handsome visuals and an especially classy instrumental score make this a quality adventure for kids, with enough narrative drive to keep adults engaged. Pic has been performing well since February release, and offshore distribs and programmers can board with confidence.

Opening sequences are Dickens-meets-“Metropolis” as young boys toil in a dungeon in Cornwall, southwest England, at the dawn of the 19th century. Between hard labor and bowls of gruel, their only amusement is being read to from a thick volume recounting the adventures of Black Mor, the notorious pirate.

The handsome but illiterate protag known as “Kid” purloins a map from the book and escapes by diving through the lone window without metal bars into the water below. When he washes ashore, one-legged MacGregor and lanky Beanpole, two colorful and unscrupulous brigands, find him.

Determined to be the captain of his own vessel, Kid swipes a Coast Guard cutter. Taka — an African deserter in the hold — and a monkey named Jim complete his resourceful crew. When they land later for supplies, they take aboard a young monk whose reading skills (and secret identity) come in very handy.

Appealingly drawn toon sports a nice ratio of problems to problem-solving and boasts a surprise subplot that will entertain girls as well as boys. Vet animator Laguionie, whose work dates back to 1965, won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1978 for his lilting, hand-painted short, “Rowing Across the Atlantic.”

Black Mor's Island


Production: A Dargaud-Marina/Gaspard de Chavagnac presentation of a Dargaud-Marina, La Fabrique, Les Films du Trainge production, in association with Teva Studio. (International sales: Celluloid Dreams, Paris.) Produced by Gaspard de Chavagnac, Patrick Moine. Directed by Jean-Francois Laguionie. Screenplay, Laguionie, Anik Le Ray.

Crew: Editor, Pascal Pachard; music, Christophe Heral; production designers, Richard Mithouard, Jean Palenstjin; storyboard, Bruno Le Floc'h ; sound (Dolby), Jonathan Liebling, William Flageollet; character creation, Laguionie, Le Floc'h; lay-out, Le Floc'h; character modeling, Daniela Natcheva; associate producers, Christophe Juban, Eric Jacquot, Christopher Panzner; assistant director, Henri Heidsieck. Reviewed at Elysees Biarritz, Paris, Jan. 17, 2004. Running time: 85 MIN.

More Film

  • Richard E. Grant, Bo Burnham Clean

    Richard E. Grant, 'Roma' Among Early Winners at 2019 Indie Spirit Awards

    Richard E. Grant, Bo Burnham and “Roma” were among the early winners at the 2019 Film Independent Spirit Awards, held Saturday on the beach in Santa Monica, Ca. Grant took the best supporting male prize for his role in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”, about celebrity forger Lee Israel, edging out stiff competition in Adam [...]

  • 2019 Indie Spirit Awards Winners List

    2019 Indie Spirit Awards Winners: Complete List (Updating Live)

    The 2019 Independent Spirit Awards are taking place on a beach in Santa Monica, Calif., with “We the Animals” topping nominations with five. “Eighth Grade,” “First Reformed,” and “You Were Never Really Here” are up for four each. The Spirit Awards are chosen by the Film Independent’s 6200 members after an anonymous committee votes on nominations. [...]

  • Oscars Oscar Academy Awards Placeholder

    Hated It! How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Gripe About the Oscars

    Watching the Academy Awards telecast, then grousing about it the next day, has become a hipster parlor game — it’s what the Complete Oscar Experience now is. The complaints are legion, and we all know what they are, because we’ve all made them. The show was too long. The host bombed. His or her opening [...]

  • Boots Riley arrives at the 34th

    Boots Riley: Spike Lee Yelled at Me After 'BlacKkKlansman' Criticism, But We're Good Now

    “Sorry to Bother You” director and musician Boots Riley, who wrote a scathing criticism of Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” for its positive representation of law enforcement, said that he and the “Do the Right Thing” auteur are good now. But it took some time (and drama) to get there. Last year, Riley called Lee’s Oscar-nominated “BlacKkKlansman” [...]

  • Dr. Donald Shirley (Mahershala Ali, right)

    Read Variety's 1957 Review of 'Green Book' Pianist Don Shirley

    “Green Book” viewers who are not totally versed in the ways of ’50s and ’60s jazz may come away from the heavily Oscar-nominated movie wondering just how well known and respected the film’s central musical figure, Don Shirley (played by Mahershala Ali), really was in his heyday. The answer: revered enough to have picked up [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Steven Spielberg Remembers 'Friend and Early Mentor' Stanley Donen

    As news of the death of prolific director Stanley Donen spread Saturday, the industry was quick to remember the helmer of so many classic musicals. Donen directed such hits as “Singin’ in the Rain,” co-directed with and starring Gene Kelly; “Funny Face” with Audrey Hepburn; and “Charade,” with Hepburn and Cary Grant. “Stanley Donen was [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content