THE CITY OF LOST CHILDREN
DIRECTOR: CLAUDIE OSSARD
CINEMATOGRAPHY: DARIUS KHONDJI
MUSIC: ANGELO BADALAMENTI
CAST: Ron Perlman, Daniel Emilfork, Judith Vittet, Dominique Pinon, Jean-Claude Freyfus, Genevieve Brunet, Odile Mallet, MIreille Mosse, Serge Merlin, Francois Hadjr-Lazaro, Jean-Louis Trintignant
ONE WORD: The story and style
There aren't many films like this anymore. Now that Terry Gilliam has graduated to doing films about perception, the once "fantasy" side of things he enjoyed in films like BRAZIL and THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN, and the ensuing human tragedy, no one has really picked up on his style and developed it into another art form....
Well, rest assured that someone has taken the copy and gone not one better, but really off the wall, and come up with a vision, that is no different in effect, than the first time we saw
things like Alien, 2001, Blade Runner, and the likes, which were films that left you kinda quiet and paralyzed.... like "what the heck was all that about", stuff.
THE CITY OF LOST CHILDREN, is a magnificent film, if not in the design of it, at least in the story side of it, and where it leads in the long run. Let's just call it a child's film for adults, so that we can relate to something in this midst. It certainly is not a child's film, and neither is it really something that most adults can easily enjoy.
It tells the story of a futuristic society and the fact that no one dreams anymore (sound familiar), and when the children do dream, they get their mind's work stolen by some adults, and in this case a mad scientist. He gets to experience their moods and talents, and eventually they lose it all, as the scientist is capable of scaring the children enough in their dream world, that they never come back to it.
Without their inner life, most of these people seem to grow subservient, and even grotesque to the eye, and become a society that appears to be easily controlled by whoever is in charge.
But in the middle of it all, there are always signs of unrest, and various hints that someone, something, is still at work, and it may yet win out. The question is how, and when. Amidst
this whole madness a strong man takes a liking to a child that is homeless, so it appears. The child has disappeared. While looking for this child he meets a group of children that have escaped the mad scientist.... they have formed an underground society themselves, and though they are run by a pair of no good women, they still manage to survive well enough.... they are not free, though.
And the movie takes us through a mad array of images, places, and things that really get one's mind wondering what the heck is all this about. And in the end, we still wonder, though the main theme has already been expressed with a very clever statement right at the start of the film by the mad scientist.
This film, though clever, and very well designed and made, is a bitter, and awfully potent, attack on the social structure of today, whose ideas and designs tend to ignore what the long range results can be. We are creating meaningless people and children, and the numbers are increasing in a rather helpless and careless fashion. The mad scientist is doing his part to make sure this does not get out of hand, it seems, since several children disappear, or as is obvious to us adults watching, die, or are destroyed.
It's really difficult to explain a simple film, that thrives on many levels at the same time... and the duo that also did DELICATESSEN, also did this one. This is the previous film multiplied by a thousand, in terms of "weirdness" and strange events. But the shooting style, with its awkward angles, and demented faces, helps define who is right and who is clearly in the wrong. The angles are totaly odd, and create the illusion of an ogre, in the bad people. It never does this to the "good" people, or the children, specially. Quite a nice touch.
Excellent film, though one has to be in the mood to get assaulted and then wonder what all this was about.
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