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Little Nicolas, Frenchman Manolito Gafotas, jumps into cinema to fight against “influencers”.

In Spain, the boy next door from Carabanchel became a literary phenomenon. His name was Manolito Gafotas, and his success was that young people could really identify with the adventures and misadventures of the boy with glasses, the son of a truck driver who loved to sing Campanera. There was some key Manolito glassesHe was a neighborhood boy. A working-class son who was proud of it and who lived off what was happening to his parents, paying truck tax, making ends meet…

If in Spain we had Manolito, in France they had Little Nicolas, the hero of numerous books created in the 50s and 60s by the writer and screenwriter René Gosquin, the creator of Asterix, and the cartoonist Jean-Jacques Sempe. Nicolas has been a great icon of French children’s literature for decades. An unprecedented success, the success of which is the same as the saga written later by Elvira Lindo. Nicholas was a real boy, mischievous, talkative and kind. A child of the middle class who represented the French society of that moment. Although Nicolas never had such a social fang, he served as a mirror for most of the children.

Manolito and Nicolas have something else in common, the cinema saw in their stories an opportunity to make family films that would appeal to children. In Spain, Miguel Albadalejo directed the first amazing adaptation, with a sequel. It’s cool to be the boss!, which was not so successful. In France, Nicolas underwent his first translation in 2009. They brought in some picture books for live action and swapped Sempe’s drawings for flesh and blood actors. Now little Nicholas lives in the premiere of his new adaptation in theaters, but it is in animated form.

A film that is not a usable adaptation. It doesn’t just focus on the coming and going of the baby, it plays meta cinema and really tells the story of Gosquin and Sempe, two friendly artists who have an idea to create a character that represents the entire French people. Nicholas, who also comes to life in the film, and who even watches interviews given by his creators on television. A beautiful game illustrated with watercolor-inspired animation that pays homage to the authentic novels.

Now it’s another creator, formed by Amandine Fredon and Benjamin Masoubri, who has brought Nicolas back. They did it against the current fashion. In a time of hyper-realistic, 3D animation and frenetic action, they created a classic film with the traditional lines and spirit of the original. They didn’t give in to the temptation to update the character, and that’s something Masubre has always been clear about.

For the co-director, one of the keys to the character is that he represents the middle and working class he also belongs to. In fact, a scene in the movie shows how they decided he was one, not a bourgeois kid. “It was important that he did not represent the bourgeoisie, but normal people. Although the word normality is subject to interpretation. But I think it represents the more popular classes that as many people as possible can identify with. “There’s no way little Nicholas would be the equivalent of an Instagram ‘influencer’ today,” he says, addressing the essence of the character, which bears little resemblance to the youth who spend all day watching TikTok videos today.

It represents the most popular classes. There’s no way little Nicholas would be the equivalent of an Instagram “influencer” today

Benjamin Masubre
Film director

Anti influencers That its director believes it will again captivate children as the original books did, the secret of which was “in the poetry and grace these illustrations give and in Goskin’s writing with his stories”. “They were portraying the world through the eyes of a child, and that added a poetic element. It’s true that the world is different now, technology is different, and personal relationships have changed a lot, but I think the dynamic with kids is similar, as we all continue to go out into the schoolyard, we all still want to mess up. At some point, we all have a grandmother with whom we have a special relationship, and I think these are things that haven’t changed much over time,” says Masubre.

This film is closely related to the director, who admits that he “especially loved the story of little Nicholas”. “Both my father and grandfather were school teachers and taught the students the book of Little Nicholas. And then I had such a special bond because of my father and grandfather, because it’s a passion that they passed on to me,” he says of the film, which was successful at the Annecy Animation Festival and was presented out of competition. at the Cannes Film Festival.

successor in the team

The legacy of the original Little Nicholas was taken care of by Anne Goskin, the daughter of one of the creators of the book, who was the screenwriter of this film, a presence that the director could not deny was the pressure: “Obviously, I can’t. He told you something else. We felt a lot of pressure, also because in the end they are still two social phenomena. There are two authors in France who are an essential part of popular culture and we tried to capture their essence as much as possible. We re-read 222 stories that were published. We studied them as if we were in front of a doctorate, we studied all the files, everything he published, to get the case to the end.”

But the presence of Anna Goskin also helped the part that explores the lives of the creators. He opened up about his father’s memories of his years in Argentina, showing his office and even his typewriter. “There were original drawings in that office for all the stories, so it was amazing to be able to access that and it really helped us get into his father’s world and then recreate it.”

The film’s animation style wanted to replicate Sempe’s illustrations with a “special pen and ink style”. They added this touch of watercolor, but this decision was not random, but based on “some illustrations he did for New York magazine”. They did their work by hand with a computer, but respected Nicola’s classic 50s lines.

A film that once again shows that animation is “not a genre, but a technique”. “It’s true that there’s a lot of animation that’s aimed at family audiences, but I think that’s increasingly the case with cinema in general. But there are more and more adult animated films. Or Japanese animation, which is very specific, and even Americans have a very different way of doing it. Animation is too varied and diverse to put it all in one box.”

Source: El Diario





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