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Background

I saw this on South African television in the late 80s (or the early 90s). I think it was a film, though it might have been an episode of a series. This version was dubbed in Afrikaans. I doubt this was the original language. The film was in colour and used a combination of live-action and stop-motion animation.

Characters

  • Human male, played by a live actor. Adult, Caucasian. Light hair, possibly white. Surrounded by technology. Probably a scientist or inventor. He wants to learn to fly. In the version I saw, his name sounded like "Beno".
  • Talking turtle, achieved through stop-motion or puppetry. Voiced by a female actor in Afrikaans. Companion (pet?) to the human male.
  • Quartz creature, another stop-motion character, voiced by a female actor. Tiny, about the size of a horseshoe, with a crystalline body in a crescent shape. Capable of flight and human speech. In the Afrikaans version, I think her name was something like "Maanstraaltjie" (which translates to "little moonbeam").

Story

The part I remember most vividly is the human's first encounter with the crescent-shaped creature.

The scene starts light-hearted. The human and his companion are amazed at the creature, who identifies herself and happily shares information about her origin. The man jokingly refers to her as a flying dictionary. He asks her to teach him to fly, but it turns out this isn't an ability she can explain. The scene turns dark when the man forcefully attempts to study and/or experiment on the creature, damaging her and causing her to flee back to her home world. The man then uses his equipment to track her.

After that, things get very hazy. I think the film leaned more heavily into stop-motion from that point on.

Other vague bits

  • There was an earlier scene where the man was speaking feverishly at a podium. He might have been giving a lecture, but I don't recall seeing the audience.
  • Also prior to the encounter with the creature, I remember a scene where the man spaces out gazing at the stars and drops some laundry (was it the turtle's t-shirt?).

1 Answer 1

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I found it!

Bino Fabule (1988)

The film I was looking for is Bino Fabule. It's a Quebec-France-Belgium co-production, released in 1988 (or 1991 according to some sources). As I suspected, the Afrikaans version I saw was dubbed – the original language was French.

Bino Fabule cover image

How I found it

I googled almost all the keywords I could think of. I asked ChatGPT, Bing AI and Bard, to no avail (though the latter did offer me a cute hallucinated film titled The Little Moonstone complete with its own award). Finally, the following photo came up in an image search for "80s stop motion" and it immediately looked familiar:

[Figure 1.26] A cast of characters from Bino Fabule. (© CineGroupe.)

The photo was from an article on AWN.com, 'The Advanced Art of Stop-Motion Animation': History of Stop-Motion Feature Films: Part 2. This article not only names the film but actually provides a lot of information about it! Armed with this knowledge, I found the film on YouTube.

What I got right

  • I got almost everything right about Bino, although I spelt his name wrong. And he does have white hair!
  • The crystal creature whose Afrikaans name I recall as "Maanstraaltjie" is named "Claire de Lune" in the original French, which is a pretty direct translation.
  • I'd say my description of her was spot-on:

enter image description here

What I got wrong

  • There's a scene where Bino speaks at a podium, but members of the audience are shown. I still don't remember seeing them when I watched this as a child. I wonder if they were cut from the version I saw...
  • The scene about Bino dropping laundry takes place after his encounter with Clair de Lune, not before. Also, he's staring at a flock of birds, not the stars.

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