The man in the moon is bored, so he hitches a lift from a passing comet and comes to earth. Once here, he soon discovers that friendship can exist in the strangest of places, and the President of Earth is after his home.
Based on the Tomi Ungerer books of the same name, Moon Man is a German-Irish-French co-production, with the work on our own shores done by the wonderful Cartoon Saloon. The film is beautifully animated with hand drawn imagery that pays homage to Ungerer’s distinctive visual style. The film is set mostly at night, but far from being a bumble through shadowy landscapes, the artists use the light of the moon to illuminate the world around the central character.
Ungerer’s story is a gentle fable of friendship, acceptance and finding where we belong, but it is also a cautionary tale about the consequences of greed and the urge to posess; as the President gathers more and more possessions, his satisfaction diminishes, whereas the Moon Man is more than happy to have finally found a friend.
The characters are wonderfully voiced with Katharina Thalbach taking the lead as the Moon Man himself. Thalbach allows Moon Man to be curious and gentle, and obviously had a lot of fun as she was creating his voice, and his ability to speak. Ulrich Tukur brings the villainous President to life, and Thomas Kästner injects the genius inventor Bunsen van der Dunkel with kindness and wonder. The real crowning glory though is writer Tomi Ungerer as the narrator. Not only did Ungerer create the world we are seeing on screen, but he has a wonderful voice that brings mystery and intrigue into this quirky little film.
Stephan Schesch and Sarah Clara Weber direct well, bringing the world and it’s characters to life, and allowing the story to resonate on a level that both parents and children will enjoy, but in revelling in the beauty of the film, the pacing slips slightly, leaving the film feeling sluggish at times, and losing the urgency of the story. It is a small complaint though, since Moon Man is charming and mysterious from the very beginning.
Moon Man is a testament to Tomi Ungerer’s storytelling talent, as well as a showcase for the animation teams that worked on the film. The world is beautiful, the characters magical and the message simple but moving. The pacing may slip from time to time, but Moon Man is a wonderful departure from photo realistic 3D films, and a reminder that beauty often lies in the simplest of things.