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Stop-motion puppet animation doesn't get much more impressive than Jan Balej's Little from the Fish Shop – a more faithful and far blacker adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid than the 1989 Disney musical of the same name.

A fairytale for adults, this Balej/Andersen mash-up turns seedy when Little, the youngest daughter of the Sea King, embarks on a sorrowful romance with a brothel owner. She is already, literally, a fish out of water, having been relocated from their plundered ocean home to dry land (in this case, the red-light district of a harbour town), where her family makes do with a seafood shop. Little then turns to a sewer witch to swap her tail for legs in a lovelorn attempt to be human.

Seventy-three individual and superbly characterised puppets make up a complex cast of animation eye candy, while the intricate set design and dominant aquatic hues help build a boldly distinctive visual style. With almost no dialogue, the narrative is instead propelled by classically trained electro musician Chapelier Fou's unorthodox music score, helping to infuse this multiple award winner with the stuff of a Jacques Brel torch-song.

"A treat for stop-motion connoisseurs … this touching, technically inventive twist on a classic forge[s] … a vivid world of equal parts urban realism and Expressionist grotesquerie." – Variety