Film Review | Ethel and Ernest


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Ethel and Ernest (2016) is a British-made 2D animation directed by Roger Mainwood and is based on the graphic novel 'Ethel and Ernest: A True Story' written by Raymond Briggs. The love story follows a young man, Ernest, and Ethel, a young maid, from their meeting all the way through to their eventual deaths. The novel is based on Briggs' own parents, telling their story as he was told by them. The couple aren't remarkable or outstanding in any way - the "ordinariness of this relationship, though, is just what makes it special" (Robey, 2016). The film is generally very heartwarming as the viewer is allowed to watch the budding love of the couple and the ups and downs of their relationship, through childbirth and the second world war. However, because it is a true story set during a challenging time in British history, the film can be rather challenging at times, which is especially true when the married couple eventually dies after having become attached to them throughout the film.

Throughout the film it is clear that Briggs had a great love and admiration for his parents - the story being lovingly told throughout with a "considerable nostalgic charm to the low-key tale" (Harvey, 2017). Cloth Cat Animation, the studio responsible for bringing the animation to life, is a British animation studio most well-known for their 2D animations. While Ethel and Ernest is a bit of a departure from their usual work, as they generally focus on children's television programmes, the soft and romanticised art style used works to the advantage of the animation, giving it a childlike, almost reminiscent charm. It is perhaps this charm that led to the books' great reception from both the general public and critics alike, becoming a bestseller. The animated film didn't quite have the same impact on the British public, despite it telling the story in an arguably more mainstream medium. The production team was rather small and the film was only showed in the UK, but the intake of $111,385 is still much less than expected for such a great movie.

Bibliography -

Harvey, D. (2017) 'Film Review: 'Ethel and Ernest'', Variety:

Robey, T. (2016) 'Ethel and Ernest Review: Raymond Briggs Honours his Parents with Slow-Drip Poignancy', Telegraph:

Illustration List -

[1] 'Ethel and Ernest', Square Chapel:

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