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The City of Lost Children (film) : I'd be lying if i said I understood the plot


7 months ago5 min read

Although very pleasing to look at and the set design is pretty out of this world, the main underlying difficulty is that I, and many other people that have watched this relatively-famous science fiction / fantasy film is that we can't really follow the story.

You can check all the boxes as far as artistry is concerned because this movie has that in spades. There is also plenty of opportunity for viewers to interpret what happens in the film as some sort of reflection of society and politics but I think a lot of this comes at the behest of not really having a very clear story.


The original film is in French and hence all the French names in the cast other than Ron Pearlman. Ron Pearlman actually does not speak French but he learned and practiced his French lines for the film and was the only American on the set back in 1995. His character is referred to in the film as being a simpleton or an idiot, and I suppose this might have been used as a method of explaining his less-than-perfect dialect.


Pearlman plays the role of a man named "One" and he is drawn into the story when someone he is calling his "little brother" is kidnapped along with a great many other children. As the name of the story would suggest, these kids are being brought somewhere to have something done to them and I'm not going to spoil that for anyone because honestly it isn't important. The overall story (if you can figure it out) is not what makes this film worth watching.


This movie is worth watching because it is straight-up weird and has plenty of imagery and scenes that will have you asking yourself "wtf am i watching?" the way that a lot of people feel gaga about David Lynch's work (I am not one of you.)

The overall story is something that you can just completely forgo because man it is just out there and elements of it seem to appear and disappear without any sort of real explanation as to why it was there in the first place, or why it is suddenly gone without so much as a mention.

This can take the form of "cyclops men" who advocate for the population to remove their eyes and have their senses replaced by some sort of electronic gadget and also trained fleas that do something.... i guess.


There are so many elements that are introduced and then done away with that by the time it is done, other than a few of the main characters you don't really understand why a lot of them were ever brought in.

However, don't let this dissuade you from watching this because honestly, you could fire this movie up from just about any point in its near two hour runtime and be immediately entertained by the extremely creative costumes, set design, innovative direction, eerie soundtrack, and special effects that don't rely too heavily on CGI. It actually had (it may still have) the record for the most special effects ever used in a French film.

Of course there is also the relationship that develops between "One" (Pearlman) and a maybe 10 year-old little girl named "Miette" (Judith Vittet) that almost crosses over into a territory of inappropriate.


Lost Children is likely one of those films that has a strong following of people out there that insist it is absolutely brilliant and an equally large number of people that it could possibly be too artsy-fartsy and opaque for them to really enjoy.

from the Umbrella Entertainment channel.

For me, I'm not going to try to dissect the narrative(s) in this film because I don't care enough to have a go at winding through that labyrinth. However, I can appreciate the vision of co-directors Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro when i say that throughout the entire movie what we are looking at on screen simply works and this is not just in relation to the very realistic alter-universe we are observing but also the creative use of camera angles and 1st person perspectives.


There is just the pesky little annoyance of not really understanding what the hell is going on most of the time. For me, it wasn't necessary for me to have a grasp of all the story elements and I simply lived in moment for the entire film because it truly is beautiful. I do know a few people that can't possibly enjoy a film without having a complete understanding of the plot and this film would likely just make those people mad (my own mother couldn't enjoy the movie Snatch because she refused to accept the fact that you actually aren't supposed to be able to understand Brad Pitt's character.)

I can't really recommend that someone go out of their way to watch this, but it is certainly worth going online to find a clip or two and see what you think. Then you can decide if it is worth it in your mind to watch the entire finished product. For me, I appreciate it for what I was able to take away from it and don't really desire to try to understand every nuance of it. I wouldn't watch it again though... once was enough.

My overall rating!



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