The film won the 2011 Asia Pacific Screen Award for Best Animated Feature Film and the Best Sitges Family Film Diploma at the Sitges Film Festival.
For her contribution to the popularization of Korean animation, producer Shim Jae-myung (a.k.a. Jaime Shim) CEO of Myung Films won a Special Mention at the 2011 Korean Association of Film Critics Awards.
This is a hidden gem of a movie that is so sadly underrated and unknown to many.
Leafie, A Hen into the Wild is one of the most touching animated films I have ever seen that involves animals. It is based off a popular children's book by Hwang Sun-mi.
It has the feel of a Western animated feature but the undeniable grief and hardship often exhibited in Eastern drama films.
The concept is fairly simple. Leafie is a hen who is confined to an egg farm and dreams of simply going outside to the yard. By playing dead, Leafie is taken out of the farm
and dumped in a landfill where the farmer puts all his dead hens. Thankfully she lives and discovers the beauty of the wild. In the wild she meets lots of new characters but especially grows fond of a handsome mallard whom she calls Wanderer. Chaos ensues and Leafie is left to take over the egg that Wanderer and his beloved left behind. The movie primarily focuses on Leafie and her new duck son, Greenie.
As silly as that all sounds, the movie is done exceptionally well. It's seriously unbelievable how a story with such childish-sounding characters can be so touching and heartfelt.
The art is top notch, very close to the quality you would have seen from Disney animated features. The backgrounds are all hand drawn and very beautifully done. It gives the movie a kind of children's story book feel which fits the movie perfectly since it's based off a book. The only issue I have with the animation is that some frames look like they were done in Flash. Flash animations always have this type of motion animation that looks too smooth to be traditional hand-drawn animation. However, this minor flaw does not tarnish the otherwise incredibly beautiful artwork. The 3D blends incredibly well with the hand-drawn art and it some cases you may not be able to tell them apart. It's just really that well done.
One thing I really liked about this movie is how each major character has depth. The main antagonist, the One-Eyed Weasel, is seriously a great character. She starts off as that typical bad guy character but as the movie progresses we see her character become humanized and empathetic.
Despite how much I love this movie, it does have its flaws. As expected from an animated feature, there are some parts that are well--childish. At one point in the movie there is a competition. The scene is described like an Olympics sports event which is kind of amusing but doesn't make a whole lot of sense. They're in THE WILD. Animals DO NOT HAVE MICROPHONES. Seriously, the side characters narrating the scene had no equipment of any sort (except for some kind of log...microphone) so I have no idea how they'd be able to narrate a fast-flying competition unless they were following the competitors (and they weren't).
And of course there is the character design of Wanderer which is so hilariously bishonen that many people who watched this movie couldn't help but laugh. I have to admit, it made ME want to watch the movie because it's just so hilarious to see a BISHONEN DUCK. Aside from Wanderer, there are other characters with distinct features that you seriously wouldn't find on any wild animal. To be honest it reminds me of what Don Bluth does with his animal characters. This isn't a huge flaw but it could make the story hard to take seriously for some people.
Like any Western animated feature that this film clearly takes a lot of inspiration from, there are parts where it focuses on side characters doing silly things. This isn't necessarily a flaw but there are some parts that are so childishly dumb that adults might feel it to be off-putting. One example of this is when Leafie finds Mr. Otter literally taking a dump and then falling off a rock. No idea what was up with that scene and I felt it to be pretty unnecessary among other unnecessarily disgusting "funny" moments.
Overall though, Leafie, A Hen into the Wild, is an absolutely gorgeous movie and I can only hope this gets an official English release at some point.
Based on the Korean children's book entitled The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly, Leafie: A Hen Into the Wild is a shimmering example of the capabilities of Korean animation. It's a marvelous and moving movie based on a marvelous and moving book, full of heartwarming characters and devastating tragedies. What's that, you say? That BISHONEN DUCKS movie is ripe with engaging drama and heart-breaking tragedy? Well, yes. Yes it is.
The movie pretty much follows the book to a T, so there's nothing in the story that could even be remotely negative. It's a bittersweet, touching tale of motherhood and nature told
from the perspective of a factory farm hen named Leafie who dreams only of leaving her imprisonment and raising her eggs to adulthood. Instead, after befriending a duck, she ends up taking care of the egg he leaves behind after death and the bond she shares with the subsequent baby duck Greenie. It is a tale of the circle of life, and how devastating that reality can be...as well as the shining sweetness that lies underneath the difficulties of life. It is both the highs and lows of motherhood, freedom, and life itself.
And in that, it is heartbreaking and heart-touching.
While I personally find the art well done and well animated, it's hard to argue that the artstyle is probably the most offputting part of the entire movie. There's a reason dozens of gifsets have been made to poke fun at, well, the slightly odd decision of giving bishonen sparkles and wind to ducks. It could unfortunately end up sending a chuckle through you once or twice due to how silly it can look to watch a DUCK toss his bishie 'hair' around.
Still...the art, in its many natural hues, still manages to look absolutely beautiful in its presentation. The designs are actually pretty good despite the aforementioned bishie syndrome, and the colors are warm and welcoming (except when the situation calls for otherwise). Its pretty, and the big eyed innocence in the main character's design does lend to some automatic pity being lent to her--when it isn't being lent to her because of the situations she's in, of course.
I've only seen the Korean version of this so I can't say much of the dub--all I know is that they cut some scenes, and changed some names. One thing is for certain, though. The music in this film is absolutely serene and calming, fitting almost perfectly to just about every scene. There's little to say about the sound OTHER than that. It's just very nice. All the voices seem to fit fine enough too, so all in all the sound is executed very well.
This is where the movie shines. The characters in Leafie: A Hen in the Wild are one of a kind and represent an aspect of emotional connection that is not typically explored in film. Leafie is one of the most sympathetic, well-intentioned, sweet heroines I've ever had the luxury to encounter in any form of film. She is a hero through her sacrifices, and a hero through her dedication to a child that is not only not hers but is also not even her species. Its hard to not love her innocent sweetness and her upright determination to help raise the child she adopts. But she's no perfect mother--she makes mistakes, and they are understandable mistakes, especially since she more than makes up for it in just how dedicated she is proven to be in her role as a mother.
The other characters are just as lovable--Greenie, lost in his place in the world and struck with the conflict of choosing between his mother and his species. Wanderer, in his solemn dignity and brave sacrifices. Even the One-Eyed Badger, in the role that she is revealed to truly have, is a fantastic character. They all have their place in this circle of life so brutally portrayed and come full circle to be some of the most inspiration characters, especially the titular character Leafie.
I love this film. This is an amazing film and an amazing story. It deserves nothing short of praise and awards, both in this animated format and in its original written format. The characters are bold, the themes are unique, and the animation is meticulous if not slightly jarring at times. The pain the characters feel is an intense pain and the viewer will easily be able to share in both the ups and downs of the life of this little chicken, with her simple goals and admirable desires. I recommend it to anyone. Just keep in mind that these bishonen fowl...may bring a tear to your eye in the process.
Upon seeing a poster or trailer for this movie, one might think, "But chickens and ducks are for eating! Who'd want to see a story about them?"
Strangely enough, it works. Director Oh Seung-Yoon tackles the subject matter with firm and unyielding compassion, making the audience feel for a hen like never before.
The storyline treads no new ground as far as morals go. Find your own destiny. Make your own mark. The circle of life goes on. These are all things we've seen before, sure, but Leafie manages to make it seem new anyhow, with colorful music that expands and contracts with every passing scene. The
pure creativity of the characters manages to reinvigorate the film, despite its pedestrian plot.
The artwork on this film is nothing short of brilliant. Backgrounds look like expertly crafted paintings one would expect to find in a museum, and each character has his own distinct look. Unfortunately, the animation is choppy in a few places, jarring the audience from the otherwise completely engrossing world.
Despite its shortcomings, Leafie, a Hen Into the Wild manages to soar higher than most all modern animated films.
This is such a great, gorgeous film. You should go and watch it if you love beautiful animation, wonderful story, bishounen ducks and topical narratives.
This film is based on a Korean novel called "The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly" by Hwang Sun-mi and is partially like a talking animals film you might remember from your childhood and also like a more topical look at the darker aspects of animals' interactions with each other and people, including the food chain, the cycles of nature and farming practices. But this is also a very painful narrative - just as there are many beautiful, heart-warming and humorous
moments in this film, so too are there also very bittersweet moments.
The animation is gorgeous. This film would take my vote for best-animated film if "Garden of Words" wasn't already there. It's on par with (or better than) Miyazaki films in this department. The nature settings are beautiful, the animals are beautiful (did I mention that there are BISHOUNEN DUCKS) and the cartoonish art style just works brilliantly.
The voice actors all did a great job on this, and Moon So-ri did (Leafie), Choi min-shik (Wanderer), Park Cheoi-min (Mr. Otter), Yoo Seung-ho (Greenie) especially did wonderful jobs here. The characters are so vibrant and fun and feel so alive but also like animals and not just humans as animals for a metaphor. I love that the primary protag is female and she is wonderfully written. That being said, this film is a sausage fest, although there's a delightful surprise by the end of the film that might assuage some ruffled feathers. It doesn't fix everything, but it's a start anyway and says some things about gendering behavior and the way our society looks at warriors.
This is a story about freedom, passion, daydreaming, romance, loss, sacrifice, duty, family, mothers, fathers, friendship, dreams, pride, peer pressure, conformity, creativity, optimism, compassion, empathy, heroism and, overall, it's about nature. While there is sorrow here, I still say that this is a heart-warming coming of age/adventure story. There are great messages about loving people no matter how different they are, just because those differences don't conform to societal pressures, helping your neighbors and being a good friend and being involved in your community. There's also heavy messages about adoption, education and the problems with the ways farmers raise their animals. I have researched a lot about current practices involving chickens in particular and was astonished that they actually showed at least some of it on-screen.
You will enjoy this. It can be difficult to find, but it is entirely worth it.