Die Stadt der verlorenen Kinder (1995)

Copy the link

Die Stadt der verlorenen Kinder: Directed by Marc Caro, Jean-Pierre Jeunet. With Ron Perlman, Daniel Emilfork, Judith Vittet, Dominique Pinon. A scientist in a surrealist society kidnaps children to steal their dreams, hoping that they slow his aging process.

“I canu0026#39;t help myself: I adore this film. I freely accept that itu0026#39;s not going to be everyoneu0026#39;s cup of tea; if pushed, I might even accept that itu0026#39;s not perfect. But thereu0026#39;s no film I love more, or more enjoy re-watching. One caveat though: Iu0026#39;ve seen both the subtitled and the dubbed print, and the English dubbing frankly comes close to ruining the movie. Ron Perlman dubs himself and is fine, and some of the other adult English actors are perfectly OK, though they tend to be blander than the French originals. But most of the children are terrible, and with her own voice itu0026#39;s Judith Vittetu0026#39;s extraordinary performance (all the more extraordinary considering she was nine at the time) that helps give u0026quot;La Citéu0026quot; the genuine emotional centre that some viewers donu0026#39;t feel it has.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eBut Iu0026#39;ll come back to that. In any version, at least Jeunet and Carou0026#39;s astonishing visual flair and artistry come over. I canu0026#39;t think of a film that has such a concentration of memorable shots – time and again, especially watching on DVD with a freeze-frame facility, you realize how many beautiful compositions Jean-Pierre Jeunet gives us: though the cast of characters could easily fill a freak show, and the sets are dark and quite unglamorous in themselves, the cinematography is gorgeous and the mise-en-scène often strangely elegant. It has a look all of its own, perfect for a modern, urban fairy-tale. The music too is gorgeous, one of the finest scores by David Lynchu0026#39;s regular musical collaborator, Angelo Badalamenti.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eu0026quot;Fairy taleu0026quot; is I think the best generic starting-point for this film, so long as you think Grimm rather than Disney. (Unlike u0026quot;Delicatessenu0026quot;, it isnu0026#39;t really a comedy, though it has comic elements). And the plot works according to its own logic, even if the progression from scene to scene is occasionally a bit lumpy or obscure. Krank (the astonishing Daniel Emilfork), grown prematurely old because he cannot dream, uses a cult of blind, messianic preachers to abduct children from a decaying industrial port and steal their dreams – but they have only nightmares, and Krank falls ever deeper into despair and evil. Itu0026#39;s up to the orphan pickpocket Miette and a none-too-brainy circus strongman, One, to put a stop to him. This rich idea is elaborated with all sorts of visual conceits and eccentric characters – Jeunet mounts, for example, a couple of astonishing sequences in which chains of unlikely effects proceed from the smallest of causes – but never at the expense of the central relationship of One and Miette.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003enIn a sense Miette, like Krank, has grown old too fast: the orphaned street-children of this city are savvy and unsentimental, and never seem to have had a childhood; meanwhile thereu0026#39;s something deeply childish, in various ways, about most of the adults. Sensitively directed and never overacting, Judith Vittetu0026#39;s Miette gradually thaws, and Ron Perlman brings a lot of sympathy and pathos to what could have been an oafish, cartoonish role: Jeunet gives plenty of space and subtlety to their gradually-developing friendship, and dares to do what I suspect no English director would dare to do at the moment, which is to make their relationship innocently sexualized. Neither of them is really a grown-up, but itu0026#39;s still an extremely risky move, exploring the first stirrings of pre-pubescent sexuality while trying not to be exploitative or prurient. I do think the film pulls it off, though I can imagine some viewers feeling distinctly uncomfortable with it. For me itu0026#39;s one of the most convincingly unsentimental and nuanced (if mannered) portrayals of childhood Iu0026#39;ve ever seen on the screen, and there is real compassion and tenderness along the way, as well as some darker twists and turns.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eItu0026#39;s a film that rewards analysis if youu0026#39;re prepared to surrender to its strange world with its strange rules. But it rewards the senses and the emotions too – and it radiates love of cinema as the perfect medium for sophisticated fantasy. One elderly actress who appears towards the end (Nane Germon) acted – as Jeunetu0026#39;s DVD commentary points out – in Jean Cocteauu0026#39;s u0026quot;La Belle et la Bêteu0026quot; about fifty years earlier (there are, by the way, distinct references to the Beauty and the Beast story here), and u0026quot;La Cité des enfants perdusu0026quot; deserves to join that film as one of the classic cinematic fairy-tales. Pity about Marianne Faithfull over the closing credits, though!”


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *