The City of Lost Children (1995)

city of lost children poster 1995 movie
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great looking fantasy story

Story can be hard to follow

Movie Info

Movie Name: The City of Lost Children

Studio: Constellation/Lumiere Pictures/Le Studio Canal+

Genre(s): Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s): May 1995 (Cannes)/May 17, 1995 (France)/December 15, 1995 (US)

MPAA Rating: R

city of lost children one miette judith vittet ron perlman

It’s not safe here for a strong man and a kid

In a city that never seems to see the light of day, a simple strongman named One (Ron Perlman) finds his hungry little brother Denree (Joseph Lucien) taken by a group called the Cyclops for nefarious plans.  When One learns that a street girl named Miette (Judith Vittet) who works for the Octopus (Geneviève Brunet and Odile Malle) may know Denree’s location, he and Miette find themselves on a journey.  Meanwhile, Denree finds himself prisoner of an aging clone named Krank (Daniel Emilfork) who cannot dream, narcoleptic clones (Dominique Pinon), and an undersized woman named Martha (Mireille Mossé) who are trying to harness the power of children’s dreams…and Denree could be the next victim.

city of lost children octopus conjoined twins genevieve brunet odile mallet

The Octopus will get you if you don’t watch out

Directed by Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet (based on a story by Jeunet and Gilles Adrien), The City of Lost Children (La Cité des enfants perdus) is a dark French-Spain-Germany fantasy film.  Following Jeunet’s first film Delicatessen in 1991, the film premiered at Cannes and received largely positive reviews.

The City of Lost Children holds a special distinction to me.  It was the first DVD I bought.  I had seen the movie before but I remember taking home with the DVD player and being wowed by how clear the picture was in comparison to VHS on our standard definition TV…times have changed.

city of lost children cyclops

The Cyclops will whisk you away in the night

The City of Lost Children is a strange tale that doesn’t always work.  It looks and plays a lot like an early Tim Burton movie, but the weaving plotline isn’t always clear.  The description of the movie is as strange as it sounds and the “world” of the movie has little explanation (nor does it really need to).  It simply is a fantasy, fairytale (or nightmare) world loaded with bizarre characters.

The lead in the movie is character actor Ron Perlman who has done everything and seemingly in every language.  He appears as childlike and even more so next to his rather adult, young costar Judith Vittet.  Daniel Emilfork’s odd look fits perfectly into this world, but he also is terrifying (especially as Santa).  Dominique Pinon is a Jeunet regular and in this case takes multiple roles (including the actual scientists that the clones are made from.  I also like the creepy Octopus twins played by Geneviève Brunet and Odile Mallet and the sad Jean-Claude Dreyfus trained flea master.  Also good is Mireille Mossé as the abusive (and cruel) mother to the clones.

city of lost children santa claus daniel emilfork dominique pinon

If only he could have played Santa in Silent Night, Deadly Night

What you will definitely take away from The City of Lost Children is the visuals which hold up over the decades since its release.  It is what originally what drew me to the film when I saw a preview for it and the strange vision of Jeunet creates an equally strange movie.  Jeunet really has a style if you see his other work and The City of Lost Children might be the most extreme version of it.

The City of Lost Children is a movie that fans of fantasy should seek out.  It is bizarre, creative, and twisted.  It feels both influential and at the same time rooted in other fantasies like Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz.  Jeunet was tapped for a big film following The City of Lost Children and was met with mixed reviews for Alien Resurrection in 1997.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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