Original and Daunting
Bruce Kendall | Southern Pines, NC | 02/15/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you were to combine elements of Fritz Lang, Carl Jung, Tim Burton, Terry Gilliam, Jean Cocteau, the Brothers Quay, Ken Russel and Edgar Varese, you might approximate what Caro, Jeunet and company have created. These creative geniuses take you the audience into the innermost and darkest recesses of your Freudian Id. It is a place where nightmares of the most disturbing order reside, a place, as the movie's tag line promises, "Where happily ever after is just a dream." If you can't figure out what is going on, it's OK. The lead actor, Ron Perlman, admits in the director/actor voice-over that is included as a DVD extra, that he didn't have a clue what Jeunet was up to the entire time they were filming. Jeunet, in fact wanted to keep his cast unsettled and in the dark, and a dark place it is indeed. One aspect of the film that is particularly unsettling involves a scene in which several of the very young cast members are almost frightened to death by the grotesque-looking Krank (Daniel Emilfork) dressed in a Santa costume, along with one of his clone henchmen/brothers, (le scaphandrier/les clones) played by the late Dominique Pinon. Then again, on the director's voice-over, Jeunet reveals he had to cut a scene from an early segment in the movie, because the kid involved became "too frightened." I don't know if I, for one, could have handled that one, even for the sake of art. This is obviously not a kid's fairy tale, nor is it a kid's movie. It's a genuine nightmare, but not without its share of Grand Guignol humor. All the villains, and even the hero, One, (Ron Perlman in another highly idiosyncratic role), are groteques. The only characters approaching normal are the children. In that respect, the movie is a reflection of how all children sometimes see the world of adults through the filtering lens of their active imaginations. Jeunet wants us to see that world from a similar perspective. The cast is uniformly excellent. The young actress playing Miette (Judith Vittet) is personable and beautiful. The kid who plays One's little brother is real little character. Jeunet comments that the very young cast members presented some unique directing challenges (the little boy wouldn't keep his eyes closed when he was supposed to fall asleep, for instance). The cinematographer is a genius. Lighting, sound, DVD quality, all top notch. Another plus is that there are several English/French language combinations so you can watch it dubbed, subtitled, or in the original language. It's such a unique and captivating movie that I tried it in all three modes. If your French is limited, as mine is, I would suggest watching it in French with English subtitles, as the actors voices in the English dub version do not measure up to the originals (particularly jarring is the actor who dubs in Pinon's characters). If you don't mind mythology of the dark, disturbing variety and enjoy visually-creative, original film making, by all means check this one out."
A French Fantasy Feast For The Eyes! From Amelie's Director
Sheila Chilcote-Collins | Collinswood, Van Wert, OH USA | 11/21/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Delicatessen, Alien Resurrection & Amelie) and his 1992 directing sidekick from Delicatessen, Marc Caro brings the dark, dank, rat-infested "City Of Lost Children" to life! All with the likes of one side-show travelling troupe strong-man, Mr. One played excellently by Beauty & The Beast's Ron Perlman, evil, pilfering, child corruptors and Fagin-like Siamese sisters joined by a third leg affectionately referred to as "The Octopus", and a manmade man who lacks the ability to dream called Krank who kidnaps the toddlers and smallchildren of the fictional city to hook them up to weird and wild machines, all to steal their dreams and make them his own.
Mix these colorful characters in with a band of homeless, criminal children a la Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist style, pet fleas that inject drugs, a talking brain in a tank named Uncle Irvin, a midget named Mademoiselle Bismuth and her six cloned sons, and finally a group of blind people called Cyclops who eat children and you have a marvelous mixture of fantasy, horror, sci-fi, comedy, action & adventure all rolled into one strangely odd film.
The visual effects are stunning and the costumes by Jean Paul Gauthier are breathtaking. The young, Judith Vittet turns in an especially wonderful performance as Ron Perlman's sidekick and heroine of the story, Miette! Incidentally, Ron Perlman was the only American in the cast and spoke all of his french lines expertly!
This film is subtitled in English or you may choose to listen to the English dubbed version on the menu of available audio tracks.
I highly recommend this film! I have never seen anything like it before!
Something different, but in a reaaally good way
villabob | Budapest | 08/12/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you like traditional Bad Boys II kinds of movies, with simple to follow, slam-bam action, you probably won't dig City of Lost Children. However, if you have an appreciation for unique cinematic style and stories that stray from the norm (and I really mean stray), this is probably going to float your boat.The story is as follows, (I swear I'm not giving anything away either)...a circus strongman and an orphan girl team up to rescue a young boy who's been kidnapped by this futuristic religious cult called the Cyclops. They've intentionally blinded themselves and attached cyborg-like eye cameras so that they may "see God" better.The Cyclops regularly kidnap children and take them to an evil madman whose accomplices include a 3 foot tall woman, 4 cloned dimwitted servants and a talking brain. (You heard me right.) The evil madman tries to tap into these children's dreams so that he may try and gain a soul.Ok, if you're still reading this, clearly your intrigued. It's hard to describe the look and feel of this movie. It's got a little of everything, sci-fi, fantasy, drama, and comedy. It's dark and light at the same time. Sci-fi action enthusiasts should know that this really doesn't have a lot of action, so don't expect gunplay and martial arts, it's just not that type of movie.The real reason to see this movie is for the cinematic style and visuals. Word to the wise, the only similarity between this and Amelie are these two reasons. Amelie is a much lighter feeling movie overall, so there are bound to be a few people who loved Amelie, but do not like City of Lost Children and perhaps vice versa. (And you will notice some of the same actors in both movies as well.)In the end, I found the movie to be a delightful change from the norm, with a storyline that seemed both fairy-tale like and surreal and characters that you truly enjoyed watching as much for their acting abilities as for the fact that Jeunet has a knack for casting some of the most visually captivating actors I've seen. If you're not sure you'll like it, try to find the preview online, it really captures the essence of the movie."