Monday, July 18, 2011

Movie- Triplets of Belleville

Les Triplettes de Belleville (2003)

I first became aware of this film in 2004 when it was nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song. Between the clip shown and the song performed, I had to check out this movie.

This is about a grandmother who is raising her orphaned grandson. He is depressed, and not much cheers him up, not even his puppy. But the grandmother discovers his love of bicycling, via a collection of newspaper clippings, so she buys him his first bike. Time lapse forward, and the little boy is all grown up and training for the Tour de France, with his grandmother serving as his loyal trainer. Next we see him, he's riding in the Tour de France, with his grandmother and dog following in the tail car. A couple large, dark men disable the tail car so they can take its place in a copied car. We later learn these are members of the French mafia, and they are kidnapping trailing riders to force them into an illicit stationary bike race gambling venture. The grandmother and dog set off across land and sea to rescue the grandson, who has been taken to Belleville. Broke, the grandmother and dog encounter the aged Triplets of Belleville, who befriend them and help rescue the grandson.

This is not your ordinary cartoon movie. Its not a movie for the kids, although if you skip the opening sequence, of the Triplets in the 1930s performing "Belleville Rendez-vous", you'll skip the bare breasts, and its mostly just gun fights afterwards. And it is an old fashioned animation, not computer animation. Hand drawn, and it has a grittier look, with a muted color palettes.

If you don't speak French, or haven't used what you learned in years, don't worry. There is no dialogue in this movie. Only the song lyrics, and a small political speech on the tv are in French. Anything else that is "spoken" are universal sounds, like laughing and 'no'. While you don't need to worry about subtitles, it is a visual movie, like the silent films of the Triplet's heyday.

Its a quirky type of humor it has. The sister who is in charge of cooking, her preferred method of "shopping" for ingredients is a WWII era grenade, fishing net and umbrella. The ending especially is fairly slap stick in style.

Its not a movie for everyone, but if you really enjoy good animation, and have a quirky sense of humor, I highly recommend this film.

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