Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Triplets of Belleville

aka Les Triplettes de Belleville
Sylvain Chomet, 2003,

France-Belgium-Canada-UK (9.2*)

This is a brilliantly original animated feature done the old school way, by hand drawing each cell, which requires 1440 images per minutes, 86,400 per hour - just like the Walt Disney animated classics, before computers could do the "tweening", or the steps in-between the beginning and ending drawings. For those of us who grew up on classic cartoons, this comes as a welcome return to a nostalgic past.

This unique vision came from the mind of French animator Sylvain Chomet, listed as creator, producer, director - and it's unlike the typical family fare. In fact, most kids won't even get the humor, as it pokes fun at old b&w cartoons, the Andrews Sisters, Django Reinhardt, Fred Astaire, Josephine Baker (all in the first five minutes in a parody of early cartoons), the French penchant for eating frogs, square-shouldered Mafioso, the US tendency toward huge gluttonous rear ends, and bicycling enthusiasts obsession with the grueling Tour de France. Everything in this film is exaggerated, it's really a comedy of caricatures and hyperbole.

The nearly wordless (no subtitles needed!) story is about a tiny grandmother's love for her grandson, training for the Tour de France, kidnapped by underworld figures, and who eventually crosses paths with the jazz singing act The Triplets of Belleville, past their prime but not past their humor. This inspired insanity also rewards viewers with perhaps the most humorous dog in film history, a round, spindley-legged parody named Bruno, who constantly thinks of his food bowl, even dreaming about it, and whose favorite activity is barking at trains that regularly pass by the house. The most fully realized character in the film, we see his motivations by viewing his dreams, shown in black-and-white.

Winner of 18 awards out of 40 nominations; it beat out Oscar®-winner Finding Nemo for best animated feature at many festivals and critics awards, and even won best film in several. In any other year, it surely would have been the Oscar® winner for animated feature. The American Choreography awards gave it "best choreography in a feature film" (!), and the Motion Picture Sound Editors gave it "best sound editing in an animated feature film". The jazzy song "Belleville Rendezvous" was nominated for an Oscar®, and won awards, as did the score. Chomet is a genius of an artist, and he dedicated this film "to my parents". There's even another visual joke after the closing credits, and be sure to watch the crazy music video and special features on the dvd.
Awards page at IMDB

2 comments:

lift February 4, 2010 at 5:56 PM  

Articles written by a good

Jose Sinclair February 4, 2010 at 10:30 PM  

"by a good..." - I'm going to surmise that there's one "o" too many, lol..

"articles written by a god"

We are all "little gods", are we not? little creators.. we each create something, even if only clones of ourselves: rugrats with half our genes

Leave the world with more than you take - someone has to make up for all the greedy people who are only takers..

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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.



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