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Yesterday the family went to see “Le Avventure di Zarafa,” a French film dubbed into Italian, at the Cinema Méliès, a new venue installed  behind the 16th- c. Chiesa di San Fiorenzo, in the hall of an old cloister, the “Casa dell’Associazionismo,” which is the headquarters of the Arci Perugia, a progressive social and cultural organization that has roots in late-19th century social movements. The courtyard leading to the hall is a beautiful space, centered around an old tree, as in this photo by R.o.b.e.r.t.o.:

The cloister, by R.o.b.e.r.t.o.

The hall was absolutely packed for the 4:30 matinee with parents, kids, snacks, and cheers. When the projector started, kids began to cheer inizia! inizia! (it’s starting, it’s starting!), and everyone applauded at the end.

The 2012 film (website and trailer here) is broadly about the journey of a boy and a giraffe (and their friends) from the Sudan to Paris. The kernel of the story is a true one, based on the actual 1826 journey of the first giraffe to France, which caused a stir (600,000 visitors came to see it in 1827), and ‘girafomania‘ gripped the city.

The giraffe embarking at Alexandria, 1826

Of course, a kids’ film takes significant liberties and invokes magical realism to tell the tale (though it doesn’t shy away from criticizing imperialism, slavery, and racism); you could read more about this lovely film on IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes.

Micah wants to describe it for his friends and family, as it was the first movie that he has seen in Italy. And he likes giraffes; they’re not quite orange, but they’re close!

Maki and the giraffes were running and escaping.

There was a guy who was protecting him.

That bad guy killed the mother of the baby giraffe, and then while the other giraffes were scaping of the guy who was trying to kill the mother and then the guy on the camel took the baby giraffe away.

Then the little boy tried to run and catch up, and they went to this weird guy who was funny and had two cows; one was giallo and one was blu. One was the sun and one was the moon.

And that’s when they met the king. And the little guy dressed up like him. And the king’s men came to the giraffe because the giraffe licked the king and he fell down.

And then the guy in blue was trying to throw the hay bale down onto a ship when they were in a hot air balloon. The cows fell down first and then the hay bale that Maki was hiding in.

And then they met the Captain girl pirate. And they made friends. They had a dance and Maki joined in for the dance. And the cows.

They landed in a real place they haven’t been before. Well, it was sort of where the bell tower was, and kinda weird around there.

And then all of them got back in the hot air balloon. Even the cows. And they walked away when the balloon got stuck on a mountain, and the cows were trying to save Maki and the giraffe from the wolves that were trying to get Maki and the giraffe and the cows, and the wolves got one of the cows, the Sun, and they buried the Sun cow up. And then they left because they cried about the Sun cow.

They tried to fix the hot air balloon which they did and they landed in this weird place, some place that they haven’t been to before; it’s like this city.

There was a contest that was about animals. And they put up a giraffe first. And the guy in the middle is very interested in the giraffe, and he doesn’t like it. And then they put in a hippo, and the hippo turns around and shows his butt, and then everything goes phsssss, and Maki puts down his umbrella and Maki knew and he didn’t get messy and neither did his sister. And at the really beginning he actually had a sister and Maki tried to escape from that bad guy.

The giraffe is in the zoo, and it gets locked in.

Maki is sad and the giraffe talks to Maki in her voice. And the giraffe talks to Maki goodbye and Maki cries.

They guy who was trying to protect Maki got shot in the shoulder. And the bad guy is jumping on to try to get on, and Maki bit his other hand and he got down.

And this very old man was telling the story and he got figures of who was in it and he showed the figures and who was dying or not. And when they were finished with the figure things, they all got away except the littlest one and he picked up the figure of Maki and looked at it.

Finito.