Arthur and the Invisibles

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Arthur and the Invisibles
Arthur and the Invisibles poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Luc Besson
Produced by Luc Besson
Emmanuel Prévost
Written by Luc Besson
Céline Garcia
Starring Freddie Highmore
Snoop Dogg
David Bowie
Ron Crawford
Robert De Niro
Jason Bateman
Jimmy Fallon
Mia Farrow
Anthony Anderson
Music by Éric Serra
Cinematography Thierry Arbogast
Studio Avalanche Productions
Sofica Europacorp
Narfia Entertainment Group
Distributed by The Weinstein Company
Release dates
  • December 13, 2006 (2006-12-13)
Running time 94 minutes (2007 version)
104 minutes (2006 version)
Country France
Language English
Budget $86 million[1]
Box office $107,944,236[1]

Arthur and the Invisibles (Arthur and the Minimoys in non-English-speaking territories) is a French/American part-animated, part-live action feature film adaptation of the 2002 children's book Arthur and the Minimoys, and the 2003 sequel Arthur and the Forbidden City, written by filmmaker Luc Besson, who also directed the film. It premiered in limited release in France on November 29, 2006, and received wide releases in a number of countries in the following weeks. In the United States, it opened on December 29, 2006, for one week in Los Angeles, California, with a wider release on January 12, 2007 and it was released in the United Kingdom on February 2, 2007.[2]

With a budget of 65,000,000, Arthur and the Invisibles was briefly the most expensive French film production[3] until surpassed by Astérix at the Olympic Games.


In 1960, 10-year-old Arthur is living with his grandmother Daisy in a quiet farm house. His grandfather Archibald has recently gone missing and he sees little of his parents. Daisy entertains Arthur by reading stories of his grandfather's adventures in Africa. One of these stories is about the friendship between the tall Bogo Matassalai and the tooth-sized, elfin Minimoys. After Archibald had helped the Bogo Matassalai, they and the Minimoys gave him a number of rubies as thanks. Archibald brought the Minimoys home with him, where they now live in his garden and protect his rubies. Arthur becomes enamoured with a picture of Selenia, the princess of the Minimoys.

Daisy has been given a two-day deadline to pay a large sum of money to a building developer named Ernest Davido, who has bought her mortgage from the bank and plans to evict the two. Arthur looks for the rubies in order to pay off the debt, stumbling across various clues left by his missing grandfather. He is met in the garden by the Bogo Matassala, who show Arthur how to get into the Minimoys' underground world by becoming a Minimoy himself.

Under the garden with the Minimoys, Arthur learns that they are in danger from Maltazard, a Minimoy war hero who now leads the nearby underground community of Necropolis, who plans to conquer the Minimoys by flooding their city. Maltazard was corrupted by a seductive weevil, with whom he has a son named Darkos.

Arthur, reflecting his legendary British namesake, draws a sacred sword from its recess and uses it to protect the Minimoys from Maltazard's soldiers. Sifrat the leader of the Minimoys sends Arthur to Necropolis, along with the princess Selenia and her younger brother Betameche. The trio are put in danger by Maltazard's soldiers numerous times, and discover that the irrigation system of drinking straws Arthur had made to water radishes for his grandmother is being cut apart by the soldiers, who are making plans to use them as water pipes to flood the Minimoys Over the course of the journey, Arthur comes to fall in love with Selenia.

When the trio arrive in Necropolis, Selenia kisses Arthur, marking him as her husband and the future king. Selenia then takes the sword and confronts Maltazard. When Maltazard learns that she has already kissed Arthur and thus can no longer give him her powers, he throws them all in a cell. They find Archibald in the cell, also in Minimoy form, where Maltazard has been forcing him to reveal his knowledge.

Arthur and his grandfather return to human form, with little time to spare before the flood will reach the Minimoys. With the help of Mino, a royal advisor's long-lost son living in Necropolis, Arthur is able to find the pipe on the surface that goes straight down into Necropolis. Arthur redirects the flood to Necropolis, saving the Minimoys and destroying Necropolis. Maltazard abandons Necropolis, leaving behind his son, Darkos. The force of the water ejects the rubies above ground.

Archibald pays Davido with one ruby; he tries to take all, but the Bogo Matassalai capture him and give him to the authorities (scene deleted in the U.S. edition).

The film ends with Arthur asking Selenia to wait patiently until the time is right for them to be together, something she promises to do.



  • Freddie Highmore as Arthur, a ten-year-old boy who lives with his grandmother because his parents have little time to spend with him; a fact Arthur resents.
  • Mia Farrow as Daisy, Arthur's long-suffering grandmother. She possesses a dry sense of wit and is very protective of Arthur.
  • Ron Crawford as Archibald: Arthur's grandfather, who disappeared a few years ago during his quest for the Treasure of the Minimoys. He is known to the Minimoys as Archibald the Benevolent.
  • Adam LeFevre as Ernest Davido, a greedy landowner who presides over and founded the multi-national Davido Corporation, which specializes in property development.
  • Penny Balfour as Rosie Suchot, Arthur's mother.
  • Doug Rand as Francis, Arthur's father.
  • Chazz Palminteri as Travel Agent


  • Madonna as Princess Selenia, the daughter of Emperor Sifrat. Despite being appearing haughty and arrogant, she is an honourable and caring individual who is determined to protect her people from the evil of Maltazard. The character was dubbed by French singer Mylène Farmer in the French version 'Arthur et les Minimoys', German singer Nena in the German version 'Arthur und die Minimoys' and Finnish Pop singer Paula Vesala from PMMP in the Finnish version.
  • Jimmy Fallon as Prince Betameche, Selenia's 300 year old younger brother. He is a mischievous youth who enjoys teasing his egotistical elder sister.
  • David Bowie as Emperor Maltazard (also known as The Evil M, Maltazard the Evil or Malthazar the Cursed), the corrupt (and somewhat sardonic) emperor of the Forbidden City of Necropolis. Malthazar was once a noble warrior, but because of his pride and lust for power, he turned to the path of evil and betrayed his own people. Although the film refers to him as Malthazar, his name in the book was Malthazard and some film versions refer to him as Maltazard. For the Japanese release, he is voiced by Gackt who is also a singer and actor.
  • Jason Bateman as Prince Darkos, Maltazard's vicious but dim-witted son. He is the only survivor of seven children whom Malthazar sired through a union with a weevil.
  • Robert De Niro as Emperor Sifrat XVI, Betameche and Selenia's father and the benevolent and kind ruler of the Minimoys. He rides atop a large, furry animal called a Gamoul so as to compensate for his diminutive size.
  • Snoop Dogg as Max, the leader of the Koolamassai, a race of beings who live near the Seven Lands' Great River. He owns a popular bar and dance club. Max has kept his tribe free under Maltazard's reign of terror by because his people are the only ones who know how to properly prepare the roots of the candyfruit tree, which the insect-like Seides can't go one day without.
  • Harvey Keitel as Miro, the royal advisor.
  • Erik Per Sullivan as Mino, Miro's son
  • Anthony Anderson as Koolamassai
  • Emilio Estevez as Ferryman


The animation was done by the French company BUF Compagnie, which hired approximately 100 animators, most of them from French animation schools and without any previous experience. Besson wanted a photorealistic environment, and BUF initially used microlenses to film physical environments, but eventually instead used photogrammetry, where a digitized photograph of a real object is manipulated with a computer. Sets were built to 1:3 scale, which allowed the animators to use natural elements, such as plants and grass. While the film did not use motion capture, real actors were used as reference, and recorded with 13 to 14 video cameras, but without the markers used in motion capture. Besson directed their performances. In terms of lip sync with actors' dialog, the French animators could not cope with the English phonemes. For Madonna and David Bowie, a camera was used to record their lips to help the animators. The animation was done with proprietary software.[4]


The film was budgeted at $86,000,000.[1] In its first two weeks in cinemas in France Arthur earned over US$20 million.[1]

Arthur and the Invisibles received mixed to generally unfavourable reviews. In the United States, the movie's Los Angeles run garnered 21% positive reviews at the critic review aggregate site[5] Los Angeles Times reviewer Alex Chun wrote that, "Director Luc Besson admits he knew nothing about animation before he started this project, and it shows".[6] Variety's Robert Koehler called it "alienating and dislikable" and specifically noted that, "Having African-American thesps Snoop Dogg and Anthony Anderson voice creatures that are basically humanoid monkeys shows poor taste."[7] Many found it derivative of sources ranging from King Arthur's sword-in-the-stone to the films The Dark Crystal and The Ant Bully, which itself was based on a children's book written three years before Besson's. "It all simply looks as if [conceptual artist Patrice] Garcia and Besson couldn't decide on any one thing to copy," said Frank Lovece of Film Journal International, "so they copied them all."[8] Lovece also noted that, "the whole thing gets seriously creepy when [the animated versions of] the grown-up, pinup-beauty princess and the 10-year-old boy fall for each other. Mary Kay Letourneau comes uncomfortably to mind."

Besson, in a May 2007 interview, blamed American distributor The Weinstein Company for the film's poor critical reception in the U.S., saying "Why the critics didn't like Arthur was because [Weinstein] changed so much of the film and tried to pretend the film was American. [...] America and the UK were the only countries where the films were changed. The rest of the world has the same film as France."[9]


On February 1, 2007, the film received the Imagina Award in the category Prix du Long-Métrage.[10]

On October 1, 2007, Mylène Farmer was awarded the NRJ Ciné Award for her dubbing of Sélénia's voice in Arthur and the Minimoys.[11]

Home media release[edit]

The US edition DVD was released on May 15, 2007 with just the English-language version and cut down about 10 minutes from the original version. The international DVD versions include the uncut English-language version and the local-language version.

Differences between release versions[edit]

After a screening test in the United States, the Weinstein company edited the film.[12] Approximately nine minutes were cut. Most of the edits pertained to the love story taking place between Arthur and Selenia. The Scenes were:

  • Arthur's arrival at the Minimoy world in the middle of a Ceremony centering on Selenia's coming of age;
  • Arthur falling in love with Selenia at first sight;
  • Arthur removing a string from Selenia's corset to use as a rope during the river scene, and Selenia taking the string back;
  • Max referring to their drinks as 'Jack Fire' instead of Genie Soda, to tone down the alcoholic reference. Also, when Arthur escapes the bar during the blackout, Max lights up and smokes something that resembles a blunt and explains to Darkos that he was merely following the curfew order when he turned off the lights to the bar.
  • Selenia kissing Arthur before going to confront Maltazard, and Betameche congratulating them over their wedding;
  • Selenia kissing Arthur before he is transported back to his own world;
  • Arthur learning of the custom that a princess must wait ten moons (lunar months) before kissing her chosen husband for the second time;
  • Davido attempting to steal the treasure from Archibald, before being captured by the Bogo Matassalai;
  • Arthur's Grandmother in the antique dealership prior to them arriving at her home;
  • Max telling Selenia about his 7 wives while they are dancing;
  • Malthazar confronting Selenia about her engagement to Arthur.
  • Selenia teasing Arthur while crawling into the toy car, causing Arthur to gasp at the distracting display.

The entire storyline involving the parents and their greed for money was also deleted, cut short by a small cutscene and a narrator explaining that worrying over their son was all they needed to reform completely.

The British version of the film, also distributed by the Weinstein Company, similarly lacked these scenes.


The Minimoys featured in the first Augmented Reality Nestle Chocopic cereal box with the help of Dassault Systemes technology 3DVIA Virtools.[13]


Arthur and the Invisibles was followed by a 2009 sequel, Arthur and the Revenge of Maltazard based on a novel of the same name and another sequel in 2010 titled Arthur 3: The War of the Two Worlds based on the final book in the series. The two films were edited together and released in the UK and Ireland as a single film titled Arthur and the Great Adventure.

All three films received mixed to poor reviews.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Arthur and the Invisibles". Box Office Mojo. 
  2. ^ "Arthur et les Minimoys (2006)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2009-04-28. 
  3. ^ "French Director Visits China for Film Release". People's Daily. January 12, 2007. 
  4. ^ Alain Bielik (January 12, 2007). "Arthur and the Invisibles: Luc Besson's Animated World". Animation World Magazine. 
  5. ^ "Arthur and the Invisibles". Rotten Tomatoes. 
  6. ^ "Arthur and the Invisibles: A film with no shortage of well-known talent makes an awkward transition from live action to animation". Los Angeles Times. December 29, 2006. 
  7. ^ Robert Koehler (December 21, 2006). "Arthur and the Invisibles review". Variety. 
  8. ^ Frank Lovece (December 29, 2006). "Arthur and the Invisibles review". Film Journal International. 
  9. ^ Daniel Robert Epstein (May 18, 2007). "Luc Besson and Rie Rasmussen". SuicideGirls. Archived from the original on 21 May 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-27. 
  10. ^ DeMott, Rick (February 7, 2007). "Gorillaz, X-Men, Over the Hedge, Arthur Take Imagina Awards". Animation World Network. Retrieved 2009-11-08. 
  11. ^ "Nrj Ciné Awards 2007". 
  12. ^
  13. ^ "3DS Minimoys". Retrieved 2011-09-26. 

External links[edit]