The Rabbi's Cat

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Rabbi's Cat
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Joann Sfar
Antoine Delesvaux
Produced by Clément Oubrerie
Antoine Delesvaux
Joann Sfar
Screenplay by Joann Sfar
Sandrina Jardel
Based on The Rabbi's Cat 
by Joann Sfar
Starring François Morel
Hafsia Herzi
Maurice Bénichou
François Damiens
Jean-Pierre Kalfon
Music by Olivier Daviaud
Editing by Maryline Monthieux
Studio Autochenille Production
Distributed by UGC Distribution
Release dates
  • 1 June 2011 (2011-06-01)
Running time 80 minutes
Country France
Language French, Russian
Budget € 12.5 million

The Rabbi's Cat (French: Le Chat du Rabbin) is a 2011 French animated film directed by Joann Sfar and Antoine Delesvaux,[1] based on volume one, two and five of Sfar's comics series with the same title. It tells the story of a cat which obtains the ability to speak after swallowing a parrot, and its owner who is a rabbi in 1920s Algeria.[2] The voice cast includes François Morel, Hafsia Herzi, Maurice Bénichou, Fellag, François Damiens and Jean-Pierre Kalfon.


The film takes place in the Jewish community of Algeria on the 20s. The Rebbe gives a milky luminescence talking parrot house, which is very noisy, angry rabbi's cat eats the parrot - that is getting the ability to speak. After that Rav finds that the cat could talk he realizes that he is very rude and tends to places perverts, and threatening to deport him - finally great pity on him and decides to keep it, and the rabbi begins to teach the cat to Torah and mitzvot. Cat helps Rabbi pass many exams, but after the election the cat turns back to mute. Russian painter convincing the rabbi, a former Russian soldier, time and the cat go on adventures.



Autochenille Production was launched in 2007 by Joann Sfar, Antoine Delesvaux and Clément Oubrerie with the aim to make "author-driven, challenging films to appeal to children and adults."[3] The Rabbi's Cat was the company's first project. The production was made in collaboration with TF1 and France 3. It was pre-bought by Canal+ and CineCinéma and had a budget of 12.5 million euro. It is the second film directed by Sfar, after Gainsbourg (Vie héroïque).[3]

One of the directors' sources of inspiration was American animation from the 1930s, and in particular from the Fleischer Studios, which Sfar described as characterised by multi-ethnical production crews and for portraying also dark aspects of society, in cartoons such as Betty Boop and Popeye. In order to generate more personality for the drawn characters in The Rabbi's Cat, some of the scenes were staged in a Parisian suburb loft in the summer of 2008, with props and the cast fully costumed. As the actors performed and invented their characters' personal motion habits, the design team observed closely and drew what they picked up.[4]

The original soundtrack was composed by Olivier Daviaud, who also had composed the music for Gainsbourg (Vie héroïque), and was performed by Enrico Macias and the Amsterdam Klezmer Band.[5]


The film was released in France on 1 June 2011 through UGC Distribution, which launched it in 243 prints.[6] It competed at the 2011 Annecy International Animated Film Festival, where it won the top award, the Annecy Crystal for best feature.[7]

Critical response[edit]

Pierre Vavasseur of Le Parisien gave the film the top rating of three stars and compared the impression it left to that of Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. Vavasseur called The Rabbi's Cat "a pure pleasure" and complimented it for its variation and colourfulness, as well as for how it tackles the subject of a divided society: "Offsprings of Voltaire, Sfar and his cat don't stroke anyone with the hair, but throw as chefs together a broth of cultures with multiple flavours and with nurtured scenery."[8] Jacques Mandelbaum wrote a negative review in Le Monde, where he among other things criticised the film for having dull gags, lifeless voice acting and a dragging pace: "This general disconcertment is due to the lack of determination in the point of view, which evidently wants to take in everything and fails to grasp the bad. Between Chagall and The Adventures of Tintin, family chronicle and adventure film, biblical legend and colonial chronicle, historical reconstruction and winks to the contemporary world, the references are superimposed without achieving harmony. In the end, this plea for tolerance is a moral preaching so annoyingly gentle that it struggles to convince us of its legitimacy."[9] Jordan Mintzer wrote in The Hollywood Reporter: "Though this gorgeously animated affair showcases the artist's freewheeling style and colorful arabesque imagery, its rambling episodic structure is not quite the cat's meow, even if it remains a thoroughly enjoyable take on Judaism in early 20th century North Africa. ... While the end result is somewhat chaotic, it proves that Sfar can make the jump from page to screen in ways that are both compelling and personal."[10]


On February 24, “The Rabbi’s Cat” (“Le Chat du rab­bin”) was named best ani­mated film at the Césars, France’s equiv­a­lent of the Oscars.[11]

On December 3, 2012, it was announced that the film has received two nominations at the 40th Annie Awards, including Best Animated Feature.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Smith, Ian Hayden (2012). International Film Guide 2012. p. 119. ISBN 978-1908215017. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b Keslassy, Elsa (2009-01-13). "Joann Sfar directs 'Rabbi's Cat'". Variety. Retrieved 2011-02-17. 
  4. ^ Festraëts, Marion (2008-08-13). "Joann Sfar: Chat tourne !". L'Express (in French). Retrieved 2011-02-17. 
  5. ^ Dieudonne, Jean (2011-05-03). "'Le Chat du rabbin', la B.O. du film". (in French). Retrieved 2011-05-03. 
  6. ^ Lemercier, Fabien (2011-06-01). "The Rabbi's Cat tackles religion and human folly". Cineuropa. Retrieved 2011-06-02. 
  7. ^ Hopewell, John; Keslassy, Elsa (2011-06-11). "'Rabbi's Cat' wins Annecy best feature". Variety. Retrieved 2011-06-12. 
  8. ^ Vavasseur, Pierre (2011-06-01). "" Le Chat du rabbin " : au poil ***". Le Parisien (in French). Retrieved 2011-06-02. "un pur plaisir"; "Fils de Voltaire, Sfar et son chat ne caressent personne dans le sens du poil, mais touillent comme des chefs un bouillon de cultures aux multiples arômes et aux paysages soignés." 
  9. ^ Mandelbaum, Jacques (2011-06-01). "'Le Chat du rabbin' : de la BD à la 3D, un passage poussif pour le chat et le rabbin". Le Monde (in French). Retrieved 2011-06-02. "Cet embarras général s'explique par le manque de détermination dans le point de vue, qui veut manifestement trop embrasser et ne parvient qu'à mal étreindre. Entre Chagall et Tintin, chronique familiale et film d'aventures, légende biblique et chronique coloniale, reconstitution historique et clins d'oeil au monde contemporain, les références se superposent sans parvenir à une harmonie. In fine, ce plaidoyer pour la tolérance relève d'un prêchi-prêcha si gentiment ennuyeux qu'il peine à nous convaincre de sa légitimité." 
  10. ^ Mintzer, Jordan (2011-06-01). "The Rabbi's Cat (Le Chat du rabbin): Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2011-06-02. 
  11. ^ Minovitz, Ethan (26 February 2012). ""The Rabbi’s Cat" named best animation at Cesars". Big Cartoon News. Retrieved 26 February 2012. 
  12. ^

External links[edit]