Austria: Madagascar

Stories about animals have always been immensely popular with young and old alike. In particular there is an ancient tradition of stories in which the animals take over the roles of human beings. Every people on earth has its mythologies where we find animal stories in the form of fables, parables and allegories that make universal truths or moral tales accessible to us by working on an emotional level with images that are easy to understand. Even today's animated films still rely on this traditional story-telling technique and play with emotions. Whereas before it was Walt Disney productions or productions from Japanese studios, for which every single picture was painstakingly drawn, it is computer-generated animations that are today's box office hits.

Following their success with films like "Shrek" and "Shark Tale" the USA-based Dreamwork Pictures animation studios have brought out a new film, "Madagascar", directed by Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath. It tells the story of a hilarious animal conspiracy with boisterous action, funny special effects and memorable one-liners. But the subject of the film is the longing for freedom, for life in the wild, for unspoilt nature.

The action centres on four main characters who at the same time are the undisputed star attractions of New York's Central Park Zoo: Alex, the vain lion who is ever so proud of his blow-dried mane, Marty, the cheeky zebra, Melman the neurotic giraffe, and the diva-like, lady hippopotamus Gloria. They lead a blissful life of luxury in the zoo. They are fed regularly, and every day visitors come to admire and marvel at them. Despite all of this Marty feels rather isolated. The thought of freedom, of life in the wild, occupies him too much. One day he stumbles on an attempt by some penguins to escape, then shortly afterwards he disappears as well. His three friends set out to find him. Before they can create too much havoc on the streets of New York and on the underground, they are captured, loaded into crates and sent by ship to Africa. Which is how they end up unwittingly reunited. But then the mad penguins, led by Skipper, hijack the ship. Off the coast of the island of Madagascar Alex, Melman, Marty und Gloria find themselves washed overboard, and, shipwrecked, they learn at first hand what the new, wild life feels like, and how to survive. They discover the true meaning of the phrase "it's a jungle out there". And you can guarantee there are several surprises lying in store for our four adventurers out there.

However great the role technology has come to play in the production of a film and can surprise us with the most incredible effects, it is still the ideas that inspire a story that make it a success.

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