Ernest and Celestine
Ernest is a hungry violin-playing bear and Celestine is a mouse who wants to be an artist but is studying dentistry! When these mismatched characters become friends, their friendship is met with prejudice and fear.
Ernest & Celestine is a French film created by Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar and Benjamin Renner. (80 mins, PG for some scary scenes)
The film is based on a beloved series of children's books created by Belgian author and illustrator Gabrielle Vincent.
Recommended for Year levels: 3-6
Learning areas: English, Media Arts
1. From page to screen
Ernest & Celestine is about the acceptance and comfort that come from true friendship. Explore the film and the book series that inspired its creation.
Introducing the books
List the English titles of other Ernest and Celestine books. (Hint: You can find many of them on the goodreads website.)
Ernest and Celestine's Picnic is a great introduction to the two friends. You can borrow it from the Open Library:
|1. Choose three words to describe the kind of story told in Ernest and Celestine's Picnic.|
|2. The illustrations have been painted using watercolours. How would you describe the illustration style? (Refer to colours, shapes, characters, backgrounds, setting|
Introducing the film
Look at these very different film posters. The one on the left is for the French-speaking audience familiar with the books and the other for English-speakers.
|1. Focus on the left-hand poster and describe: what you see; what you think about it; and what it makes you wonder.|
|2. Repeat this process with the poster on the right-hand side.|
|3. Which of these posters would encourage you to see the movie? Explain.|
|1. After watching the trailer above, what do you want to know more about?|
|2. What aspects of the story does the trailer focus on?|
|3. Does it make you want to see the movie? Explain|
2. After watching the film
Your response to the film
Learn more about film language and how to explain your response as a viewer.
|1. What stood out in the film? Which scene was the most memorable?|
|2. Make a list of adjectives that describe the film.|
|3. How did the film make you feel?|
|4. What was the message of the story?|
Find out more about the development of the film and the animation process from one of its creators, Benjamin Renner. List three things that you learnt about the film from this video.
Watch the chase scene again.
|1. Describe the look of the animation. Focus on: colour, shape, design, movement.|
|2. Renner wanted the film to look like a sketchbook. How does this compare to the approach taken by animation studios such as Pixar and Disney?|
|3. Describe the effect of making the mice into a single moving shape in the chase scene|
|1. What colours and types of colour are used?|
|2. Are they different between the worlds explored in the film?|
|3. If the colours were changed, how would this affect the story and the meaning of the film?|
Music and sound effects
Choose a scene from the film where the sound effects and/or music are particularly important.
|1. What is happening in this scene?|
|2. Describe the mood of the music.|
|3. How does the music enhance the scene?|
|4. Would the scene be different if there were no sound effects/music?|
|5. Watch the scene without any sound. How does the lack of sound affect what you see and how you feel|
3. Learning about the story
Scripting the story
Gabrielle Vincent never explained how Ernest and Celestine became friends in any of her books.
In writing the script for the film, screenwriter Daniel Pennac decided to imagine how the pair got to know each other and the problems creatures from such different worlds might face.
|1. How is Ernest treated in the mouse world?|
|2. How is Celestine treated in the bear world?|
Imagine you are explaining the story to someone who has not seen the film.
- Write a couple of sentences explaining how Ernest and Celestine meet and become friends.
Film stories typically have:
- a beginning where we learn about the characters and the story
- a middle where there is a conflict or a problem
- an ending where the conflict or problem is resolved
- Use the Story Design Worksheet (below) to write about or draw what happens in each part of the story.
Character & setting
Ernest and Celestine are unlikely friends. Their unexpected friendship is highlighted by how different they look.
Complete the Character Discovery worksheet (below) to:
- learn more about character design
- explore the differences between the two characters
Visit the Ernest & Celestine website to see some of the behind-the-scenes character design.
Notice the simple black lines used to create the characters
You can use this as inspiration for your own sketched characters. With either a pencil or charcoal, try to give a sense of character with as few lines and details as possible.
|1. Describe the underground world where the mice live.|
|2. What are the differences between the bear world and the mouse world? How are they similar?|
|3. How is colour used to contrast the bear’s town from Ernest’s house in the country?|
|4. How is colour used to show the different seasons?|
|5. The Ernest & Celestine animation was made to look as though it was painted in watercolours like the original books. Create your own watercolour painting based on an image from the film.|
Discover the themes and ideas that make this animation so special.
|1. Why do Ernest and Celestine become friends?|
|2. What qualities do they share?|
|3. How are they different from the other characters in the story?|
|4. What does their story communicate about the nature of friendship?|
|5. Explain what is happening in the image below. What does it tell us about Celestine?|
Difference and acceptance
|1. Why are the mice and bears so afraid of each other?|
|2. Explain how the mice's fear of the bears and the bears' fear of the mice is shown in the film.|
|3. Are the bears and the mice really as different from each other as they think they are?|
|4. What happens to change the bears and the mice so that they can accept Ernest and Celestine's friendship?|
|5. Why is it important not to judge others by how they look?|
Ernest and Celestine discover they share a love of creating. Celestine loves making art and Ernest loves making music.
Be inspired by a short animation made by Ernest & Celestine creator, Benjamin Renner when he was a student.
|1. Use the film as inspiration to for your own creative response. Use art, craft, writing or music to communicate something important about friendship.|
|2. Try making your own animation. You might like to start with lego stop motion, claymation or cut-out animation for great results.|