The City of Lost Children
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|The City of Lost Children|
French release poster
|Directed by||Marc Caro
|Produced by||Félicie Dutertre|
|Written by||Gilles Adrien
|Music by||Angelo Badalamenti|
|Edited by||Ailo August
Centre National de la Cinématographie
France 3 Cinéma
|Distributed by||Union Générale Cinématographique (France)
Concorde-Castle Rock/Turner (Germany)
Sony Pictures Classics (US)
|Running time||112 minutes|
The City of Lost Children (French: La Cité des enfants perdus) is a 1995 French-German-Spanish science fantasy drama film directed by Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet and starring Ron Perlman, who does not speak French, and repeated his lines phonetically as given to him by Caro. The film is stylistically related to the previous and subsequent Jeunet films, Delicatessen and Amélie. The music score was composed by Angelo Badalamenti. It was entered into the 1995 Cannes Film Festival.
From an ocean rig, a demented scientist, Krank (Daniel Emilfork), kidnaps children from the nearby, unnamed port city to steal their dreams, as he is incapable of having dreams of his own. Among them is the adopted little brother, Denree (Joseph Lucien), of carnival strongman and former Russian sailor and harpooner One (Ron Perlman), who sets out to rescue him with the help of a little girl named Miette (Judith Vittet), a member of a thieves' guild composed entirely of orphaned children. They delve into the world of a bio-mechanical kidnapping cult and discover the connection between the scientist and the missing Denree.
Krank is both aided and hindered by his "family" - Martha (Mireille Mossé), a diminutive woman; "uncle" Irvin (the voice of Jean-Louis Trintignant), a talkative brain in a tank; and six narcoleptic, identical clones, his "brothers" (all played by Dominique Pinon). All of them were created by a bioengineering genius, who is conspicuously absent; Martha to be his wife, Irvin for intellectual company, the clones to be his brothers (and manual labour), and Krank to be his masterpiece. There is considerable argument amongst the clones as to who was the first one, the "Original." They support themselves by supplying prosthetic eyes and ears to the cult which, the cult believes, give them the ability to see past an illusory world to a deeper reality. In return, the cult abducts children to be subjects for Krank's experiments. Krank is a genius but lacks the ability to dream, without which he is aging rapidly, so he uses a machine to steal children's dreams for himself. However, he does not seem to understand that by kidnapping the children, he frightens them and causes them to have only nightmares, which are worthless to him.
Conjoined twins known as the Octopus (Geneviève Brunet and Odile Mallet) control the thieves' guild, but have become distrustful of Miette; when One accidentally bursts in and shows his strength while they are planning a heist, they hire him to help the children steal a large, heavy safe. The safe is successfully stolen but then lost into the harbour when One is distracted by a sign of Denree's kidnappers; the Octopus then believes Miette has been holding out on them and has deserted to help One. They employ circus performer Marcello (Jean-Claude Dreyfus), who was their former boss and possible captor but is now apparently in their debt, to return One to them, and much to his own distaste he allows Miette to drown while rescuing One from the cult (who have captured Miette and One attempting to rescue Denree, and plan to execute them both by drowning them in the harbour) using a system of mind control involving trained fleas, a special serum, and a music box.
Beneath the waters Miette's last sight is that of a deep sea diver who takes her to his lair beneath the harbour, and catalogues her body. He is revealed to be a delusional, paranoid amnesiac, identical to the clones except older with a beard, who hoards and lives off things that have fallen into the harbour and apparently knows something about the child abductions. An accident revives Miette and, after taking some valuables from the stolen safe (which the diver had also recovered), she leaves the lair and finds One and Marcello both drowning their sorrows in a bar. Upon seeing Miette alive, the remorseful Marcello lets One leave with her. The angered Octopus has a henchman dispose of the Marcello - though he chooses not to, resenting the Octopus' control - and uses the stolen mind control system to turn One against Miette; the smallest of actions has the largest of results in a spectacular chain of events leading to Marcello's revenge and the Octopus' demise instead, and One and Miette are freed to continue searching for Denree.
When a stolen dream escapes the rig, released by Irvin as a plea for help, it plants information in Miette's mind and restores some of the diver's memories, including how he once lived on the rig before he was attacked by Krank and Martha, and thrown into the sea. They all converge on the rig; the diver to destroy it and the duo to rescue Denree. Miette is almost killed by the duplicitous Martha before the diver arrives and shoots the dwarf in the back with a harpoon gun. Later, Miette is forced to enter a dream world to release Denree from the dream extracting machine, whilst the deranged but vengeful diver sets a time-bomb in the rig's laboratory and then straps himself and a large amount of dynamite to the legs of the rig. In the dream world, Miette meets Krank and makes a deal with him to replace Denree as the source of the dream; Krank fears a trap but plays along, believing himself to be in control. Miette then uses her imagination to control the dream and turn it into an infinite loop, destroying Krank's mind. Whilst One and Miette rescue all the children, the lab is destroyed and the diver happens to grab some billowing scientific papers, finally regaining his memory of who he really is - the "Original," the genius who created the rig-dwellers in the first place. He pleads for rescue from his remaining creations as the clones and Irvin row away in one boat, and One, Miette, and the lost children escape in another, just before a sea bird triggers the detonation of the explosives, killing the genius and destroying the rig.
- Ron Perlman as One
- Judith Vittet as Miette
- Daniel Emilfork as Krank
- Dominique Pinon as the diver and the clones
- Joseph Lucien as Denree
- Jean-Claude Dreyfus as Marcello
- Rufus as Peeler
- Mireille Mossé as Martha
- Serge Merlin as The Chief of the Cyclops
- Ticky Holgado as Ex-acrobat
- Marc Caro as Brother Ange-Joseph
- Jean-Louis Trintignant (voice) as Uncle Irvin
- Mathieu Kassovitz (uncredited) as Man on the street
- Geneviève Brunet and Odile Mallet as the Octopus (French: la Pieuvre)
A video game based on the film was released in the United States and in parts of Europe for the PC first and then the PlayStation console. So far the PC version holds a score of 60%, while the PlayStation version holds a score of 54.50%, both from GameRankings.
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- The City of Lost Children at Box Office Mojo
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- Official website
- The City of Lost Children at the Internet Movie Database
- The City of Lost Children at Box Office Mojo
- The City of Lost Children at Rotten Tomatoes
- The City of Lost Children at Metacritic