The Girl Without Hands

The Girl Without Hands

By Sébastien Laudenbach - 1h13 - 2016 (France)
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The Girl Without Hands
Audience 9+

Synopsis

A miller is visited by the devil and, despite the love he has for his daughter, he agrees to give her up in return for eternal wealth. But the devil has another demand: he orders the miller to chop off his daughter's hands, which are too clean for the devil's liking. This torture turns out to be inadequate, as the devil still considers the girl to be too pure for him. So he disappears after vowing to find a way to get compensation. The poor girl leaves her home, not knowing where she will go, and the miller realises he will never regain the respect of his only daughter. A long journey to freedom and peace begins for our heroine.

Benshi's review
Benshi's review

The little girl with no hands is a masterpiece of animation cinema. It is rare to see a film that gives viewers such a feeling of creative freedom and emits such power. Sébastien Laudenbach was inspired to make this gem of a film after reading the tale of the same name by the Brothers Grimm, but it would be unfair to refer to it as an adaptation, as the director totally put his own stamp on this literary classic and made it a very modern film in terms both of its style and substance. The christian moral in the tale by the Brothers Grimm is replaced here by the quest for emancipation of a young girl who is more pure than pious. Although the story's outline has been kept, a variety of changes have been made that radically alter the tale's meaning and the role assigned to the female lead character. The heroine of this film resolves to take charge of her life and to no longer let others make decisions for her. Happily, she succeeds in doing so. It is impossible at this point not to think of The Tale of the Princess Kaguya by Isao Takahata. Although that was adapted from a much older tale, it, too, is a brilliant painted portrayal of a pure and clear-thinking female character who makes sacrifices out of love for parents who are blinded by promises of riches. Unfortunately Kaguya is not as lucky as the miller's daughter and remains a prisoner of her destiny, although, of course, the tale demands that the miller's daughter also endures plenty of suffering. Sébastien Laudenbach made seven short films before embarking on a feature film with The Girl Without Hands, and many of his previous works dealt with freedom, love and quests for identity - in them landscapes and bodies at times seem to merge with great sensuality, evoking the complexity of the human soul, whether male or female. Sébastien Laudenbach uses very organic experimental animation to express the difficulty of grasping the essence of others, and also of one's self. In The Girl Without Hands, the film maker once again appeals to viewers' senses and imaginations by making characters and sets appear in flashes and fragments of paintings in the middle of magnificent canvasses. Just as Norman McLaren did in his era with Blinkity Blank and other short films, Sébastien Laudenbach makes viewers participate in the creation of his film and demonstrates how animation copies life and can be confused with it. Thus, the repeated appearances and disappearances of the young girl's traits convey, with great realism, the beating of her heart. Sébastien Laudenbach made this film by himself during an artist's residency. He did so in the order in which it is presented, by imagining components as he went along: maybe that is why The Girl Without Hands gives viewers the impression of being made while they watch it. Furthermore, the work on the sound and music is exemplary, very delicate and intent on immersing us fully in this fascinating tale, which stands on the border between a story of legend and a timeless fable.

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Top reasons to watch this film !

  • 1 to see a very original film that is unique in its genre
  • 2 to enjoy an experience that truly triggers the senses
  • 3 for the beauty of the story, drawings, dialogue, voices, music and more
  • 4 to feel carried away and unable to take your eyes off the screen for fear of missing a second of this treat
  • 5 for the huge emotion stirred by the film

Who is it aimed at ?

The Girl Without Hands is not aimed at a particular demographic so is not specifically a children's film, but children aged 9 and over can watch it and enjoy a very rich cinematic experience. It is so original that children, who tend to have fewer preconceptions than adults, may be fonder than grown ups of this unique work.

Themes and topics

Drama Painting Coming of age Tales and legends
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