An Introduction To French Animation

Before I enlighten the masses on a few of my favorite French animated films, I want to recognize that I was supposed to review “Jersey Boys,” but because of its bland reviews and the fact that there are a plethora of films being screened in Los Angeles more intriguing than “Jersey Boys,” I decided to save everyone a meaningless review and instead introduce or expand on prior interest in French animation.

Generally speaking, from the films that I have seen, French animation stems from nontraditional narratives, tackles political issues, and, I would argue, is made more for adults than children. It focuses less on fantasy and more on culture; less on romantic relationships and more on daily interactions with family, friends, and people one may meet throughout their lifetime. The films I have watched that dealt with romance were told more realistically. Specifically referring to “Perils of Love,” a short film Louis Clichy that follows a couple through their ups and downs as they attempt to find the balance between meeting their personal needs and the needs of the other. This adds to the argument that typically, from my experience, these films are geared more towards adults than children. So, here is a small list of films to check out. You’ll find “The Triplets Belleville” on Netflix, but you’ll have to seek elsewhere for the others, though I promise it’s worth the effort.

1) “The Illusionist
No, this is not the movie with Edward Norton directed by Neil Burger. I’m talking “L’illusionniste” directed by Sylvain Chomet. The one about an unsuccessful magician who comes across a young woman that inspires him to keep performing.

2) “The Triplets of Belleville
Because I adore Sylvain Chomet, and his animation prior to “L’illusionniste” is just as delightful. A grandmother teams up with a musical group to rescue her grandson who was kidnapped by the French mob during his competition in the Tour de France.

3) “Ernest and Celestine
If you want to get a little more recent, this was just this past year. Absolutely adorable. About a mouse and a bear who find comfort in one another despite the rules of the world that they live in which says that mice and bears aren’t allowed to be friends.

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4) “Gandahar
If you want to go a little more abstract, a little more 1980s animation, and a little science fiction, “Gandarhar” is a good choice. An evil force disrupts a culture that has found peace in the future.

5) “Persepolis
I actually have not seen this one yet, but it’s next on my list. It’s a black and white animation about the Islamic Revolution from the perspective of a young girl.

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