The fact that the Brothers Grimm’s work is still associated by many people with children’s literature is one of the most erroneous and strange conceptions. Obviously, such an opinion was decisively influenced by artists such as Walt Disney, who, in the twentieth century, would completely change the way the world public perceives this literature inspired by folklore. However, there are certain artists who do not fall into this trap and who, when approaching the real origins of fairy tales, exploit that very dark side of all these nightmares on the verge of fantasy. Charles M. Kline is one of those creators who attacks this “Happily ever after…” cliché-taboo. Hence, he proposes through his short animation – The Ominous Overture (the first of the three parts of the Nursery Crimes project) – an exciting and terrifying revisitation of the (post)modern recycled Gothic imaginary in seven short narrative fragments. What the director is doing here is not necessarily an absolute novelty, and many viewers will sense certain affinities between this project based on the counterpoint between the ingenuity of children and cruelty and the art of Tim Burton, Lemony Snicket, Angela Carter, Henry Selick, Charles Addams, or Neil Gaiman. But these parallels do not affect the director’s efforts and the quality of his project, which, in fact, marks a continuation, a “mise en images” of a personal project.


Charles M. Kline thus proves to us not only his talent as a poet-storyteller but also as an illustrator, inviting us into a naive and “macabre” foray, accompanied by the music of Camille Saint-Saën, through the nightmares of childhood. In this journey, we will meet cannibal witches, living-dead animals, explosive deserts, natural disasters, but also criminal acts orchestrated by children during their “innocent” games. As a tribute to the work of illustrators such as Edward Gorey or Tyra Kleen, the animator’s black and white style is embodied in seven tableaux that reuse elements of the Victorian or Edwardian era, in the substrate of which we may intuit the fascination for the work of E.A. Poe, in the same way that Tim Burton exploited it in his project “Vincent”. Magnetic and incisive, ‘Nursery Crimes Part 1: The Ominous Overture’ is not necessarily a project dedicated to children, or at least not to children who have not gone beyond the superficial reading of the Brothers Grimm stories. Still, if the director offered us only a fragment of his project to whet our appetite, our answer is: yes, we want more!