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The Magician's Elephant review: The Netflix animated film takes us through a magical tusky journey

The charming tale of faith and hope uses metaphors to tell an elaborate narrative, and it is based on Kate DiCamillo’s children’s novel The Magician's Elephant

The Magician's Elephant review: The Netflix animated film takes us through a magical tusky journey
  • Sneha Singh

Last Updated: 09.39 AM, Mar 18, 2023

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Story: An orphan named Peter lives with an elderly soldier who saved his life. One day he meets a fortune teller who informs him that his sister is still alive. He is told to find a magician with an elephant who will lead him to his sister. After an elephant shows up out of the blue, he is sure the magnificent animal will lead him to his lost sister. But before he can get the elephant, he has to prove himself by completing three impossible tasks.


Review: Kate DiCamillo is a celebrated children's fiction author who has written gems such as Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tiger Rising. Her storytelling is exquisite with twists to keep the readers invested, and nothing less can be expected from the films adapted from her books. With all the complexities of ambitious modern cinema, sometimes a sweet and simple tale helps balance the scales. The Magician's Elephant and its little but courageous protagonist Peter is one such tale, and it is certainly heartwarming.


The animated film has a fairy tale aura to it and it starts in the European city of Baltese, where magic was a part of everyday life. However, a treacherous war renders the people of the city with no hope, and it also takes away the magic. An orphan boy named Peter steps up with a hopeful heart, but will his hope and bravery be enough for him to reunite with his lost sister? The fantastical aspects of the film have a tinge of quirkiness which is hard to miss but the specific realism is what distinguishes this film from other films in the same genre. The characters are not purely good or evil but somewhere in the middle which makes them extremely human and relatable. Peter voiced by Noah Jupe is the likable protagonist whose strong will makes the impossible possible and an elephant, the most unlikeliest animal in this city appears out of thin air. As one flips through the pages of a storybook and discovers something new on each page, the film also follows a similar stride with its storytelling.


For the moral of the story, a major component of any fairy tale, the film uses a direct approach which is ideal for young audiences. The use of the elephant plotline is essential to the moral of the story which is a classic tool used by Kate DiCamillo, who always incorporates animals into her stories. All the side characters are very essential to the storytelling, which is a difficult task for any writer but DiCamillo’s The Magician's Elephant does it effortlessly and the modern dialogues are useful for engaging a younger crowd.

Verdict: The animation style is nothing exceptional, it’s fairly standard computer animation. All in all, the film is a heartfelt watch and perfect for a young audience with its riveting storyline and, both realistic and fantastical elements.