The City of Lost Children

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The City of Lost Children
City of lost children french movie poster.jpg
French release poster
Directed by
Produced by Félicie Dutertre
Written by
  • Gilles Adrien
  • Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Music by Angelo Badalamenti
Edited by
  • Ailo August
  • Herve Shneid
Distributed by
Release date
  • May 1995 (1995-05) (Cannes)
  • 17 May 1995 (1995-05-17) (France)
  • 17 August 1995 (1995-08-17) (Germany)
Running time
112 minutes[1]
Language French
Budget $18 million[3]
Box office $1.7 million[3]

The City of Lost Children (French: La cité des enfants perdus) is a 1995 science fantasy drama film directed by Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet, written by Jeunet and Gilles Adrien, and starring Ron Perlman. An international co-production of companies from France, Germany, and Spain, the film is stylistically related to the previous and subsequent Jeunet films, Delicatessen and Amélie.[4]

The music score was composed by Angelo Badalamenti. It was entered into the 1995 Cannes Film Festival.[5]


Krank (Daniel Emilfork), a demented scientist, kidnaps children from a port city to steal their dreams, as he is incapable of having his own. Among them is Denree (Joseph Lucien), the adopted little brother of carnival strongman and former whaler One (Ron Perlman), who sets out to rescue him. Assisting him is a little girl named Miette (Judith Vittet), a member of a thieves' guild of orphaned children. They delve into the world of a bio-mechanical cult and discover the connection between Krank and Denree.

Krank is both aided and hindered by his "family," a group of bioengineered beings created by an absent genius. They support themselves by supplying prosthetic eyes and ears to the cult, which believes the items can help them see a deeper reality. In return, the cult abducts children to be subjects for Krank's experiments. Krank uses a machine to steal children's dreams for himself. However, he does not understand that by kidnapping the children, he frightens them and causes them to have only nightmares, which are worthless to him.

Miette's guild hires One to help them steal a large safe. The theft is successful but the safe is lost in the harbor when One is distracted by seeing Denree's kidnappers. The guild orders circus performer Marcello (Jean-Claude Dreyfus) to return One to them. Marcello allows Miette to fall in the harbor and drown while rescuing One from the cult. Miette is rescued by an amnesiac diver living beneath the harbor, who bears resemblance to a group of clones in Krank's family.

After an accident revives Miette, she takes some valuables from the stolen safe and she leaves the diver's lair. She finds One and Marcello both drowning their sorrows in a bar. Upon seeing Miette alive, the remorseful Marcello lets One leave with her. A henchman uses Marcello's 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.



The film holds a 78% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 41 reviews,[6] and a Metascore of 73 on Metacritic.[7]

The film is widely regarded as a steampunk film as the typical stylistic features of arcane machinery are pervasive throughout.[8][9]

Video game[edit]

Aggregate score
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 60% (PC)[10]
54.50% (PS)[11]
Review scores
Publication Score
AllGame 2/5 stars (PC)[12]
1.5/5 stars (PS)[13]
Edge 4 out of 10 (PS)[14]
Game Informer 5.5 out of 10 (PS)[15]
GamePro 3/5 stars (PS)[16]
GameSpot 4.6 out of 10 (PC)[17]
3.8 out of 10 (PS)[18]
IGN 5 out of 10 (PS)[19]
PC Gamer (US) 48%[20]
PC Zone 84%[21]

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. Players take on the role of Miette and confront puzzles in an adventure game format.[22] On GameRankings the PC version holds a score of 60%,[10] while the PlayStation version holds a score of 54.50%.[11]


  1. ^ "THE CITY OF LOST CHILDREN (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 14 July 1995. Retrieved 27 September 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c "La CITÉ DES ENFANTS PERDUS (1995)". British Film Institute. Retrieved 19 February 2017. 
  3. ^ a b The City of Lost Children at Box Office Mojo
  4. ^ Holden, Stephen (December 15, 1995). "The City of Lost Children (1995) FILM REVIEW; Out of the Fever Dreams of a Child". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ "Festival de Cannes: The City of Lost Children". Retrieved 2009-09-04. 
  6. ^ "The City of Lost Children (La Cité des Enfants Perdus) (1995)". Rotten Tomatoes. 
  7. ^ "The City of Lost Children". Metacritic. Retrieved 29 June 2010. 
  8. ^ Cohen, Noam S. (2008). Speculative nostalgias: Metafiction, science fiction and the putative death of the novel. ProQuest. p. 166. ISBN 978-1243560216. 
  9. ^ Klaw, Rick (2008). "The Steam-Driven Time Machine: A Pop Culture Survey". In Jeff VanderMeer. Steampunk. Ann VanderMeer. San Francisco: Tachyon Publications. p. 355. 
  10. ^ a b "The City of Lost Children for PC". GameRankings. Retrieved 2012-10-10. 
  11. ^ a b "The City of Lost Children for PlayStation". GameRankings. Retrieved 2012-10-10. 
  12. ^ House, Michael L. "The City of Lost Children (PC) - Overview". AllGame. Archived from the original on 2014-11-13. Retrieved 2014-12-13. 
  13. ^ House, Michael L. "The City of Lost Children (PS) - Review". AllGame. Archived from the original on 2014-11-13. Retrieved 2014-12-13. 
  14. ^ Edge staff (April 1997). "The City of Lost Children (PS)". Edge (43). 
  15. ^ "The City of Lost Children - PlayStation". Game Informer (48). April 1997. Archived from the original on 1997-10-21. Retrieved 2012-10-10. 
  16. ^ The Rookie. "The City of Lost Children Review". GamePro. Archived from the original on 2005-02-18. Retrieved 2012-10-11. 
  17. ^ Sengstack, Jeff (1997-04-24). "City of Lost Children Review (PC)". GameSpot. Retrieved 2012-10-10. 
  18. ^ Smith, Josh (1997-07-17). "The City of Lost Children Review (PS)". GameSpot. Retrieved 2012-10-10. 
  19. ^ IGN Staff (1997-05-23). "City of Lost Children". IGN. Retrieved 2012-10-11. 
  20. ^ Trotter, William R. (July 1997). "City of Lost Children, The". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on 1999-12-05. Retrieved 2014-10-21. 
  21. ^ "PC Review: The City Of Lost Children". PC Zone. 2001-08-13. Archived from the original on 2007-01-04. Retrieved 2012-10-11. 
  22. ^ "The City of Lost Children". Next Generation. Imagine Media (13): 147. January 1996. 

External links[edit]