April and the Extraordinary World
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|April and the Extraordinary World|
Theatrical release poster
|Avril et le Monde Truqué|
|Music by||Valentin Hadjadj|
|Edited by||Nazim Meslem|
April and the Extraordinary World (French: Avril et le Monde Truqué lit. April and the Fake World) is a 2015 French-Belgian-Canadian animated science fiction adventure film co-directed by Christian Desmares and Franck Ekinci, co-written by Ekinci and Benjamin Legrand, and starring Marion Cotillard. It depicts an alternate steampunk world with a visual style based on the work of French cartoonist Jacques Tardi.
In 1870 on the eve of the Franco-Prussian War, French Emperor Napoleon III visits the lab of Gustave Franklin to access his project of breeding invulnerable supersoldiers. The emperor is disgusted with the results - two intelligent, talking komodo dragons ill-fit for war - and tries to shoot them, but the creatures escape and the emperor instead causes an explosion that kills both him and Gustave. Napoleon III's successor then negotiates a settlement with Prussia to avert war.
Over the course of sixty years, renowned scientists such as Einstein and Fermi mysteriously disappear. As a result, technological developments have been based on coal, and then burning wood when the coal runs out. By 1931, Europe has been depleted of trees, and the air has become so badly polluted that people need to wear masks to be outside for long periods of time. The French Empire now plans war for Canada's vast forests, and orders all remaining scientists to work for the empire in a desperate attempt to modernize its weapons. Bumbling inspector Gaspar Pizoni pursues the descendants of Gustave Franklin in Paris. Gustave's son Prosper ("Pops" to his family), grandson Paul, granddaughter-in-law Annette and great-granddaughter April have continued to work on a serum for ever-lasting life, in hopes of improving the world's health. Their work has produced a talking cat named Darwin, now April's companion. Just when the serum is perfected, Pizoni's men raid their workshop and attempt to arrest them. Pops escapes, but the rest flee to a cable car bound for Berlin, with Annette hiding the serum in April's snowglobe. A mysterious black cloud appears and destroys the cable car, seemingly killing April's parents. April and Darwin later escape, and Pizoni is demoted for the disaster. The disappearances continue for ten more years.
In 1941, a now adult April continues working on the serum to save a dying Darwin. But Pizoni still obsessively hunts the Franklins, hiring petty criminal Julius to tail April. When Darwin seems to die after taking April's latest serum, she spills the liquid from her snowglobe over Darwin, and Darwin is suddenly completely revived and invulnerable. Just then, a rat appears, with advanced technology attached to it. Through it, April hears a message of warning from her father, and then another cloud appears. Julius helps April and Darwin escape. April uses the message to finally reunite with Pops, who directs her to his home in a secret hiding place. Julius reluctantly turns Pops over to Pizoni. The authorities take Pops to a government weapons research center in Fort-la-Latte, but also imprison Pizoni there for disobeying orders. There, Pops finds other scientists studying a mysterious machine found at the bottom of the sea, which turns out to be an airplane powered by electricity. In the meantime, Julius returns to April just when a group of strange cyborg soldiers attack Pops's house. April discovers that the house can convert into a rocket, and so she, Julius and Darwin use the house to flee to Fort La-Latte.
The house breaches the fort, causing a flood and destroying the house, their only means of escape. April, Julius, and Darwin instead escape on the plane, which Pops has repaired, with Pizoni, hoping for revenge and one last shot at being reinstated, stowed away. On the plane they find a film that reveals that the two komodo dragons bred by Gustave have been the ones kidnapping scientists. The komodos, Rodrigue and Chimene, have used the scientists to create a jungle ecosystem underneath Paris, where the scientists work alongside the lizards' offspring on an ambitious, mysterious project. The lizards remotely hijack the plane, but Pizoni brings the plane down in the jungle. April, Darwin, and Julius reunite with her mother, who reveals the lizards' ultimate project: launching a rocket loaded with vegetation made invulnerable from the serum to other planets, terraforming them to escape the humans' wars, pollution, and violence. April discovers that it was actually her own serum instead of the snowglobe's serum that revived Darwin. Pops and Pizoni are captured, and find Paul a prisoner for rebelling against the project, among others who have rebelled, not trusting the lizards' motives.
Before reuniting with Annette, April's group causes a blackout that frees the prisoners. Pizoni tries to escape while Pops and Paul try to find the others. At the rocket's launch, April remakes her serum and Julius hands it to Rodrigue. But Rodrigue, the more war-like of the couple, drinks the serum and reveals his master plan: using the rocket's crash to wipe out humanity and reterraforming the surface, leading the komodo dragons to world domination. Rodrigue kills Chimene when she tries to stop him, but then Julius reveals that he handed Rodrigue water instead, and then fatally shoots him. Only Darwin is able to reach the rocket's controls to redirect the rocket to space. Right before the rocket launches, April douses the vegetation on the rocket with her serum, fulfilling Chimene's plan. The Franklins, Julius and the scientists join Pizoni in escaping to the surface, and witness the rocket exploding in space.
A news item reveals Pizoni becoming the head of the emperor's personal guard in reward for his "work" "foiling" the lizards' plot. A time lapse scene then shows the freed scientists rapidly advancing technology. The scientists perfect oil as an energy source, ending wars over fuel sources, and invent many electric appliances. April continues to work on the serum, but never finds a way to make it work for humans. The invulnerable vegetation has spread all over the Moon, Venus and Mars. Man finally reaches the Moon in 2001, where astronauts discover Darwin still alive. An elderly Julius breaks the happy news to his wife, April.
|Character name||French voice actor||English voice actor|
|Avril/April Franklin||Marion Cotillard||Angela Galuppo|
|Darwin||Philippe Katerine||Tony Hale|
|Prosper "Pops" Franklin||Jean Rochefort||Tony Robinow|
|Paul Franklin||Olivier Gourmet||Mark Camacho|
|Annelle Franklin||Macha Grenon|
|Julius||Marc-André Grondin||Tod Fennell|
|Gaspar Pizoni||Bouli Lanners||Paul Giamatti|
|Chimène||Anne Coesens||Susan Sarandon|
|Rodrigue||Benoît Brière||J.K. Simmons|
The first poster of April and the Extraordinary World was released on 21 June 2015.
The film had its world premiere at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival on 15 June 2015. StudioCanal released the film in France on 4 November 2015. O'Brother Distribution released it in Belgium on the same day.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 96%, based on 51 reviews, with an average rating of 7.7/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Bursting with a colorful imagination befitting its promise-packed title, April and the Extraordinary World offers spectacular delights for animation fans willing to venture off the beaten path." On Metacritic the film has a score of 85 out of 100, based on 17 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
|2015||Annecy International Animated Film Festival||Best Feature Film||Christian Desmares and Franck Ekinci||Won|
|2016||César Awards||Best Animated Feature Film||Christian Desmares and Franck Ekinci||Nominated|
|Prix Jacques Prévert du Scénario||Special Mention||Franck Ekinci and Benjamin Legrand||Won|
|San Diego Film Critics Society||Best Animated Film||April and the Extraordinary World||Runner-up|
|St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association||Best Animated Film||April and the Extraordinary World||Nominated|
|2017||Annie Awards||Outstanding Achievement, Editorial in an Animated Feature Production||Nazim Meslem||Nominated|
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- Tasha Robinson (25 March 2016). "April and the Extraordinary World finds the heart in a retro-mechanical Paris". The Verge.
- Bill Desowitz (31 March 2016). "In 'April and the Extraordinary World,' Animation Goes Steampunk Dystopian Sci-Fi". IndieWire.
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