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THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX

Creatures And Locations
Dor is quite a magical, inviting place that shines like a jewel on top of the sea. We are entering the kingdom at the peak time of year. Just as France is known for its cheese and Belgium is renowned for its chocolate, Dor is celebrated worldwide for creating the greatest of soups. Castle banners are festooned with bowls, the streets are lined with soup shops and the royal family has soup spoons emblazoned upon its crowns. In fact, the citizens hold an annual Royal Soup Day on which Chef Andre reveals his latest culinary masterpiece.

The towers of Dor rise high into the sky—replete with gold spires throwing off radiant glows. At the base of its cliffs, a small harbor may be found, dotted with square-rigged sailing ships.

Says director Fell: "We enjoyed creating the kingdom of Dor because it's like this naughty European town, where they just love soup. Dor is made up of rambling, ramshackle, cobblestoned streets up narrow squares. It's a wonderful kind of amalgam of European cities, from Brussels and places in Italy to the Balkan area of Eastern Europe.”

Prior to the death of the Queen, Dor is full of cheer and direct sunlight. VFX supervisor Armour describes the locale as being reminiscent of the balanced, bright colors from a Vermeer painting with "natural light streaming through windows, very soft shadows, but not hard lighting.”

After the tragedy, when soup has been outlawed, light and life in the kingdom completely change. Clouds darken the landscape and everything that once shone brilliantly golden turns to gray and glum…the whole place turns just miserable. The color palette for much of the film at this stage goes from almost exuberant to quite a bit more subdued.

The weary traveler—be he curious rat or she of royal blood—who happens upon Dor now finds a kingdom in the throes of a depression after the untimely death of the Queen. Cloud cover shrouds the land and happiness has been drained from its residents. Below is a guide to Dorian citizens, key players and curious locales. Mouseworld

Once abuzz with busy kitchen staff helping to prepare bubbling soups from Chef Andre and Boldo, the royal kitchen in the castle at Dor is now drab and lifeless. But on the other side of the kitchen wall, through a mouse hole, lies a tiny and magical universe of discarded human objects reimagined with mousy resourcefulness. The world, situated on floorboards between pots and barrels, appears friendly and cozy and is full of soft, indirect light. Mouseworld is a miniature, thriving society somewhere between Baum's Oz and Swift's Lilliput—very industrious and regimented.

Director Stevenhagen calls Mouseworld "a very oppressed society” and feels the squashing of individuality encouraged by the town's leaders has gone to extreme. Stevenhagen elaborates, "From the outside, it looks like a very cozy and friendly place. You'll soon find out that it is quite a paranoid world where everybody's extremely scared to break the rules that are set up by this institution called the Mouse Council.

Despereaux's really the only one that—because of his curiosity and his amazing appetite for life—has a hard time keeping to the rules.”

The entire place is comprised of specific household items. A knife becomes a park bench; a saucer doubles as a public pond. One can find an enormous bell tower fashioned from a tiny dinner bell and a butter churn, and the town neatly made from playing cards and a teacup. The mice's houses are built into a chest of drawers that has been turned on its side and populated with creatures who just want to do what they are told and live a life of timidity. Well, except for one…

· The brave, enthusiastic and virtuous mouse Despereaux (Matthew Broderick) is a diminutive fellow who is saddled with comically oversized ears. Noble and brave, Despereaux<

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