IT SEEMS the holidays are not yet over as Instituto Cervantes screened a post-Christmas animated film for the whole family.

Los Reyes Magos (The Three Wise Men) is a new version of the Biblical tale that has become a classic embodiment of Christ’s birth. Directed by Antonio Navarro, the 2003 film was distributed by United International Pictures–Spain in several parts of France and Spain.

The film depicts little Jimmy’s resentment of Christmas because he did not receive his holiday gifts. Playing a mean prank on the men putting Christmas trees away, he stole a plastic star from them and ran into the local pub, where Alfredo, the kind barkeep, told him the story of the Three Wise Men: Gaspar was a teacher of astrology, Melchor mentored young Midas, and Baltasar was a kind sage who saved slaves. With the rising of an unusual star over the horizon, the three men found what they had been waiting for—the star that would lead them to the royal treasures and the King of kings.

On another side of the world, Belial, an evil sorcerer, became aware of what the star signified, and Herod, the king of Judea, felt threatened of the coming of the King of kings who could usurp his throne in time.

Belial, however, found a way to follow the wise men and brought along the whole army of Herod for a final showdown between good and evil. The wise men, of course, won with their renewed powers. They continued on to pay their respects to the newborn Messiah.

Little Jimmy listened contentedly to Alfredo’s story and to the old man’s remark that the Three Wise Men bring gifts to young children, like they did the night they visited the newborn Christ. And to the boy’s surprise, he woke up the next morning with a gift: a pet squirrel named Aristobulus.

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The animation is cleanly done in the tradition of Disney movies as the animators were from the company. The plot can also be easily understood. The slapstick scenes are typical of Western cartoons, though not as funny as those found in more mainstream animations. Those who dislike reading subtitles and will certainly have trouble because the movie is in its original Spanish dialogues.

With its wholesome storyline and appeal to children, Los Reyes Magos is a proper opening movie to this year’s Cine en el Patio, a family-themed film festival by the Instituto Cervantes-Manila.

The other movies shown this January are El Bosque Animado (The Animated Forest, 2001), La Lengua de las Mariposas (The Tongue of the Butterflies, 1999), and La Vida que te Espera (The Life that Expects You, 2004). Florian C. Garcia

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