Kidnapped by mysterious, square-shouldered henchmen, a Tour
de France cyclist named Champion is spirited across the ocean
to the teeming metropolis of Belleville. His grandmother and
faithful dog follow his trail and are taken in by trio of
eccentric jazz-era divas The motley sleuths follow the clues
to an underground betting parlor and now the chase is on!
year was 2004. When the nominations for the 76th Academy Awards
were announced, we were surprised to see Sylvain Chomet’s
little-known film (at least during that time) being nominated
in two categories, Best Original Song and Best Animated Feature.
What? A French animated movie against the Hollywood bigwigs?
Who would have thought that it would happen? You have to watch
this to believe what an odd piece of gem this is.
78-minute movie tells the tale of a boy who gets kidnapped
when he competes in the Tour de France. His grandmother and
his beloved dog travels the country to save the boy, and along
the way, they meet the Belleville Sisters, three loony old
women who make up a bizarre but mean jazz combo.
the Frenchmen’s imagination to come up with a quirky
film like this. There is hardly any dialogue throughout the
feature, but everything is so wonderfully put together in
the visual medium that you have to experience it yourself.
The characters’ odd shapes complement the nicely blended
traditional hand drawn and modern computer generated backgrounds.
The pointed noses, the slit eyes, the big ears, the boxy faces
– these are not images you’d expect from a conventional
music is another attraction of the movie. There are peculiarly
idiosyncratic moments when the Belleville sisters break into
a music montage with items like the refrigerator and the vacuum
cleaner. It’s almost like watching a “live”
performance where you’d applause in glee after the show.
The tune nominated for Best Original Song "Belleville
Rendez-vous" is a tune that will ring repeatedly in your
mind long after the movie.
movie is artistic without being alienating. Everything in
the film looks like a fine piece of art, yet the engaging
pace of the hilarious movie makes you pay attention to every
detail of every scene. Strange and out of this world moments
will also have you sit up in awe. The Belleville sisters going
to the swamps to catch frogs to have them for meals? A mafia
gang which forced cyclists to pedal all day on a bicycle-based
gambling machine? These are just some of the weird but rip
roaring things you’d see in the movie.
this movie never made it commercially to our cinemas, it’s
something every animation feature fan, or any film fan, would
want to watch to experience the magic of cinema.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
This Code 3 DVD contains a 16-minute “Making
of Featurette” where the director talks about
Paris, Montreal and New York City being the inspiration for
Belleville’s unique look. He also talks about the use
of classical music in certain scenes. Pardon the French accent
though – this clip does not come with subtitles and
one interviewee spoke in French, which we did not understand
a word of. There is also a “Music Video”
of the Oscar-nominated "Belleville Rendez-vous"
and a “Trailer” for the movie.
visual transfer of the movie is pristine, and it is presented
in its original French audio soundtrack in either Dolby Digital
5.2 or Dolby Stereo 2.0.
by John Li