Family Gala

Ernest and Celestine

Ernest et Célestine

Bears and mice never mix. It’s always been that way until Ernest and Celestine become great friends.

Even if a screening is sold out, tickets are often available 30 minutes before the start of the film at the box office at each venue.

Image gallery

  • Director Benjamin Renner, Vincent Patar, Stéphane Aubier
  • Producer Didier Brunner, Philippe Kauffmann, Vincent Tavier, Stéphan Roelants, Henri Magalon
  • Screenwriter Daniel Pennac
  • With Voices Lambert Wilson, Pauline Brunner
  • France-Belgium-Luxemburg 2012
  • 79 mins
  • UK distribution STUDIOCANAL

Recommended ages 6+

Bears live upstairs and mice live downstairs and never the twain shall meet. That’s just the way it is. This delicate balance between the species is blown wide-apart when Ernest, a large, solitary and rather grumpy bear meets Célestine, a wide-eyed orphan mouse who previously never believed that big bears even existed. Eventually he welcomes her into his home. Despite the company and support that they give one another, and against all odds, this is a friendship that flies in the face of the established order of things. Before long the mice and bear authorities, fearing the change that they are confronted with, are forced to work together to address the problem presented by our two heroes. Benjamin Renner joins forces with established team Patar and Aubier (A Town Called Panic) to create an exceptional film that brings life to Gabrielle Vincent’s enchanting characters and her beautifully drawn animal world.
Justin Johnson

Director Q&A

Why do you think the Ernest and Celestine books, which one might think are exclusively reserved for children, have such an appeal for adults?

When I read a book, I don’t read it from the perspective of an adult or that of a child. I discover it for what it is, with no preconceptions. What is striking in the Ernest and Celestine books is the importance of tenderness between the characters, and the relationship with childhood that is so well represented in the drawings and situations. Ernest has something childlike about him, even though he is portrayed as adult. In fact, the characters are very much like two children. Everything is remarkably well thought-out. They aren’t classical stories but little snippets of life. When I met Gabrielle Vincent’s nephew, he told me that all the Ernest and Celestine stories are events that she experienced or which they had experienced together. In the book Ernest et Célestine et la Cabane, the two characters build a cabin in the forest. And Gabrielle Vincent did exactly that with her four young nephews and nieces. She had a great deal of experience with children and when she took care of them, she would fully dedicate herself to them. You can sense it in her books, that feeling of being wrapped in a soft cocoon. It’s a gentle universe in which one feels secure, where one understands that the friendship binding Ernest and Celestine could never be destroyed by anyone.

Gabrielle Vincent’s style of illustration – her watercolour backgrounds and light strokes that blur and disappear – must have been difficult to transpose into an animation in which there are normally very precise lines, curves and coloured areas. Yet you managed it. How?

After I met Didier Brunner, I bought all the books in the series and started working on two little animations. I showed them to Didier and he was really delighted. I had already made my mind up to draw very few details and go straight to the essence, with the idea of 'animated sketches' in mind that would allow us to focus on the pleasure of drawing without going back over it lots of times. We pursued an idea of free strokes; sketches with strong lines that didn’t painstakingly seek to recreate the volumes. The enthusiastic response from Les Armateurs clearly demonstrated that we were going in the right direction. We wanted to tap into the feelings Gabrielle Vincent had experienced when she was drawing.

Were you worried about changing the design of the characters? The series has a great deal of fans and, looking at the original drawings, it seems as if Gabrielle Vincent used felt tips or dry brushes to create Ernest’s fur and Celestine’s head. Those effects are impossible to recreate in the same way in an animation.

For the pilot, we scrupulously respected the original design of Celestine because that was our aim. Later on, when we drew the storyboard for the film, my team pointed out that I’d gradually changed Celestine’s profile. Her muzzle had gradually shrunk, without me realising it. I had appropriated the character without meaning to. In thinking about it, I saw I was quite close to Daniel Pennac’s position. He had chosen to not to use any of the stories from the albums, but to create a totally original story whilst still respecting Gabrielle Vincent’s spirit.The world in which the action takes place is a little gloomy and cynical, opposite to the 'cocoon' imagined by Gabrielle Vincent. That way, we see how Ernest and Celestine manage to change the order of things and create a new universe; that of the original work. That is how Daniel Pennac got into the project. We chose to adopt the same approach by not representing Ernest and Celestine exactly how they are in the books. Our characters are those in the film written by Daniel Pennac who end up in Gabrielle Vincent’s world. And the film’s conclusion follows this logic because the two characters then 'invent' Gabrielle Vincent and the drawings of Ernest and Celestine’s adventures. But we had to avoid imitation in order to adapt the original style to the big screen in a fitting manner.
Benjamin Renner

Director biographies

Benjamin Renner studied at the Fine Arts School of Angoulême, where he got his National Diploma in Graphic Novels. During the two years he spent at La Poudrière, an animation school in France, he directed Le Corbeau voulant imiter l'aigle, Le Plus Gros Président du monde (commissioned for Canal J television channel) and La Queue de la souris, his graduation film. Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar are well-known figures on the Belgian cultural scene. Their filmography is made up of several co-directed short films and both the comic-book TV series and feature film A Town Called Panic, nominated for a César in 2010. The pair has recently been the subject of a book by Belgian journalist Alain Lorfèvre.


Benjamin Renner

2006 Le Corbeau voulant imiter l'Aigle [s]; Le Plus Gros Président du monde [s]
2007 La Queue de la souris (A Mouse’s Tale)
2012 Ernest et Célestine (Ernest & Celestine)

Vincent Patar

1993 Le Voleur de cirque [s]
1994 Babyroussa the Babiroussa [s]
1995-1999 Pic Pic André Show [TV s]
1999 Ufo’s boven Geel [s]
2000 Panique à la cuisine [s]; L’Ours, la Femme et le Chasseur [s]; Rupture [s]
2009 Panique au village (A Town Called Panic)
2012 Ernest et Célestine (Ernest & Celestine)

Stéphane Aubier

1993 St Nicolas chez les Baltus [s]; Le Voleur de cirque [s]
1995-1999 Pic Pic André Show [TV s]
1998 Les Baltus au cirque [s]
1999 Ufo’s boven Geel [s]
2000 Panique à la cuisine [s]; L’Ours, la Femme et le Chasseur [s]; Rupture [s]
2009 Panique au village (A Town Called Panic)
2012 Ernest et Célestine (Ernest & Celestine)