Published on October 20th, 2018 | by Chris O'Connor
The City Of Lost Children DVD Review
Summary: Science fiction fantasy by way of a surreal circus.
Certain movies stand out from the pack… they find their own little cozy place in your memories and sit there as fond remembrances. City Of Lost Children is one of those films. I can’t remember when I first saw the movie or in what format (my guess is either via SBS or perhaps VHS cassette from the local rental place). But when I watched the movie… there were elements that were bound to be lodged in my memory, Ron Perlman’s gentle giant, the extremely well trained fleas and the clones to name a few (and arguably the most memorable).
The general premise of the film revolves around an off shore laboratory in which a man named Krank continues to try and have dreams but always ends up with nightmares. Krank believes all he needs is the right child to extract a dream from, but finding that child is no simple task and the result is all the local children keep going missing as he searches for the one who might release him from his nightmares and help him find his youthfulness.
This disc comes with both the original French audio and an English dub track… I tried watching with the English dub and I just couldn’t persist with it… it will be helpful for those who just don’t like to read subtitles… but it didn’t feel right to me. There is also a commentary track (that again you will likely want to use the subtitles for, unless you speak french) which gives you a bit of insight into the movie making process. Included on the disc are also some behind the scenes footage but I found them to be a bit difficult to watch for a couple of reasons. The main issue I had is that the source material was obviously made for the older 4:3 aspect ratio, but rather than simply putting black bars on the sides of the screen the content creators have decided to stretch the footage and I just found it too hard to watch when it was so clearly distorted (which you could argue goes with the surreal nature of the film… but it was unpleasant for me to watch). The other is that there doesn’t seem to be a very good flow to the behind the scenes material… I’m being very nit picky here as it could well be a cultural difference or it could even be simply due to the fact that the material was produced long before “making of” documentary style filming was a common thing on discs and so less thought is likely to have gone into it.
The movie itself is still just as enjoyable as it was when I first watched it. Being older I’m now able to appreciate additional elements of the film, not least of which is the way the sets have been so well crafted and filmed to give the impression of a fully fleshed out coastal town whilst only really using a small area (evident from the tight style of shooting, rarely do we see much of a background except for scenes on the ocean when the sea seems to simply stretch into a misty horizon). The former circus performers are used brilliantly to inject fabulously quirky characters and contraptions to the story that give it a magical, arguably dream like, quality.
If you are fine with subtitles or you speak French then this should be an easy choice to watch. If you are a bit unsure of keeping up with the story by missing elements of dialogue… you will likely still follow quite well from the visuals… whether it’s the history of Mime or simply the very visual nature of the film… you can basically be swept up in the flow of the film and still get a lot of enjoyment out of it.
Director – Jean-Pierre Jeunet Marc Caro
Actors – Ron Perlman, Daniel Emilfork, Dominique Pinon
Film Genre – World Cinema
Label – Umbrella Entertainment
Audio – French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Subtitles – English
Running Time – 112
Aspect ratio – 1.78:1
Region Coding – 4
TV Standard – PAL
Rating – M
Consumer Advice – Moderate violence
Year of Release – 1988
Primary Format – Movies/TV – DVD