Preview by: Jack Foley
ANIMATED movies are big business in America, what with the likes
of Shrek, Toy Story and, more
recently, Finding Nemo and
Sinbad vying for Box Office
Well, it is with some relief that we are able to report that
Hollywood does not own the monopoly in the animated market.
The French look to be catching up, if the reaction to Sylvain
Chomet's latest animated adventure, Belleville Rendez-vous, is
anything to go by.
A favourite at Cannes, where it was shown out of competition
this year, the film marks Chomet's follow-up to his imaginary
whodunnit, The Old Lady and the Pigeons, which was nominated for
an Oscar for best short animation film in 1991.
Belleville Rendez-vous tells the story of a lonely little boy,
called Champion, whose only passion in life is his bicycle - a
present from the grandmother who adopted him, Madame Souza.
As the years go by, he enters the world-famous cycling race,
Le Tour de France, but is kidnapped, mid-race, by two mysterious
men in black, who take him to the global metropolis that is Belleville.
Following in hot pursuit, however, are his grandmother, and beloved
pet dog, Bruno, who team up with the renowned 'Triplets of Belleville'
- a trio of eccentric female music-hall stars from the 1930s -
who decide to take the rescue team under their wing.
Thanks to Bruno's brilliant sense of smell, the brave duo are
soon on Champion's trail, but will they be able to rescue him
from the clutches of the French Mafia?
The animated feature is aimed at a more adult market - it is
due to receive a 12A certificate upon release in the UK - and,
although a French film, contains almost no speaking.
Speaking at Cannes, Chomet said he was influenced by graphic
novels, Anglo-Saxon animation Nick Park and the
silent movies interpreted by Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin.
"But, in order to be as original as possible, I tried to
avoid seeing too many films," he said.
And commenting on his decision not to include dialogue in the
movie, he added: "I wanted to prove that it was possible
to express feelings and emotions without any dialogue and just
"The characters owe their strong expressiveness to that
The ensuing movie is a completely fun, utterly surreal trip which
IndieLondon thoroughly recommends to readers, when it is released
on September 5.
For those who want to find out more, however, the film's website
(right-hand link) provides an excellent insight into what to expect,
both in terms of style and content.
We sincerely recommend that you give it a go, if not only to
get acquainted with Bruno, the dog, who steals every scene he
is in - especially when called upon to pursue Champion's ferry
across the ocean in only a pedallo!
IndieLondon will be bringing you an interview with the director
and crew as part of a special feature on the movie upon its release.