Review: ‘The Inventor’ (2023), starring the voices of Stephen Fry, Daisy Ridley, Marion Cotillard, Gauthier Battoue and Matt Berry

December 17, 2023

by Carla Hay

King Francis I (voiced by Gauthier Battoue), Leonardo Da Vinci (voiced by Stephen Fry), Princess Marguerite (voiced by Daisy Ridley) and Louise de Savoy (voiced by Marion Cotillard) in “The Inventor” (Photo courtesy of Curiosity Studio/Blue Fox Entertainment)

“The Inventor” (2023)

Directed by Jim Capobianco; co-directed by Pierre-Luc Granjon

Culture Representation: Taking place in Italy and in France, in the 1500s, the animated film “The Inventor” features a cast of all-white cast characters representing the working-class, middle-class and royalty.

Culture Clash: Renowned artist Leonardo Da Vinci tries to find acceptance as an inventor at a time when science and scientific inventions were considered religious blasphemy. 

Culture Audience: “The Inventor” will appeal primarily to people interested in watching a pleasantly simple history-based animated movie that uses stop-motion and 2-D animation.

King Francis I (voiced by Gauthier Battoue) in “The Inventor” (Photo courtesy of Curiosity Studio/Blue Fox Entertainment)

“The Inventor” doesn’t do anything groundbreaking in animation, but it’s a charming option for viewers who want to see an adventure story about Leonardo da Vinci. The movie has positive messages about reaching for our best potential. The visuals (a combination of stop-motion animation and 2-D animation) are the opposite of slick and overly intricate, giving the movie a traditional look that is o. The voice performances are also well-cast.

Directed by Jim Capobianco and co-directed by Pierre-Luc Granjon, “The Inventor” takes place in the 1500s. The movie begins in 1516 in the Italian capital of Rome, where famous painter Leonardo DaVinci (voiced by Stephen Fry) shows fellow painter Francesco Melzi (voiced by Angelino Sandri) his new invention: a telescope. Leonardo wants more out of his life than just being known as an artist. He also wants to be known as a polymath: someone who has many different skills.

Leonardo has an avid interest in science. However, Pope Leo X (voiced by Matt Berry) thinks science is religious blasphemy. The pope wants Leonardo to stick to only painting chapels and doing other paintings.. Leonardo resists this command.

As a compromise, Pope Leo X tells Leonardo: “I command that you create a bauble, a gift that will cement the peace between the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of France. If you are successful, I shall allow you to continue your studies. However, [if you fail], you will find you and your curiosity on the heretics’ pile.

It just so happens that in France, King Francis I (voiced by Gauthier Battoue) has invited Leonard to become France’s first person to be a combination architect/painter/engineer for the royal court. Leonardo is introduced to King Francis’ mother Louise de Savoy (voiced by Marion Cotillard) and King Francis’ sister Marguerite (voiced by Daisy Ridley), who is often the target of Francis’ sexist attitude. The king’s architect Il Boccador (voiced by Max Baumgarten) and the king’s engineer Pierre Nepveu (voiced by Natalie Palamides) greatly admire Leonardo and his vision for creating canals, gallerias and gardens.

However, King Francis thinks the plans are too expensive and complicated. When Marguerite says that Leonardo’s ideas are great, King Francis is dismissive when he tells her: “If only you were permitted to wear britches, you’d be every bit my equal.” Marguerite isn’t the type to accept this insult and doesn’t hesitate to try to prove her brother Francis wrong.

Meanwhile, “The Inventor” has some debate about faith versus science, and if they can co-exist in the same outlook on life. Marguerite says to Leonardo: “Faith makes all things possible. Don’t you agree?”

Leonardo replies, “All I know is that blind faith cannot prove the existence of the soul. Using the power of reason, however, observation, and experiment, I endeavor to find that soul … And when I find this immortal soul, I hope people share its answers about life.”

All of this existential talk makes “The Inventor” an animated film that’s geared to people who are at least 8 years old. Children young than 8 will enjoy the visuals but might not fully understand the messages behind the film. Overall, “The Inventor” is enjoyable for what it is but it’s not a classic film that will influence generations of viewers.

Blue Fox Entertainment released “The Inventor” in U.S. cinemas on September 15, 2023. The movie was released on digital and VOD on November 7, 2023.

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