The City of Lost Children is a French movie that was released in 1995 under its original name La Cité des Enfants Perdus. It was directed by Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet, and written by Caro, Jeunet and Gilles Adrien. The soundtrack was composed by Angelo Badalamenti, and the costumes designed by Jean-Paul Gaultier.

The City of Lost Children is a wonderfully bizarre movie that is set in a dreary harbor town called, you guessed it, City of Lost Children. Here a circus strongman, One (Ron Perlman), goes on a search for his adopted little brother. His brother has been kidnapped by a group of henchmen with robotic eyes called the Cyclops. They work for a quickly aging mad scientist named Krank (Daniel Emilfork), who suffers from a curse that has been put upon him. Because of this curse, not only does he age too quickly, he also cannot dream, his wife is a midget and he has seven identical sons (Dominique Pinon) who all suffer from a sleeping disorder. To slow down the aging process, Krank kidnaps small children to steal their dreams.

In his search for his little brother, One is helped by Miette (Judith Vittet), who has escaped from a school run by unseparated Siamese twins who teach children to steal. When the two women find out about Miette's escape they hire Marcello, a retired owner of a circus freakshow, who still controls a group of fleas trained to inject poison...

The directors of The City of Lost Children have a very specific style. Jeunet and Caro have also written and directed Delicatessen, and Jeunet is also known for Alien Resurrection and Le Fabuleux Destin d' Amélie Poulain. The atmosphere in these films, fairy-tale like, with somehow exaggerated colours and strange and beautiful sets, is very similar to that of TCoLC. The directors have used some very unusual camera viewpoints, and the soundtrack by Badalamenti adds to the somewhat surreal mood of the film. The CGI for this film, which constitutes about one fifth of it, was done by BUF Compagnie (thanks, Spuunbenda).

The soundtrack was nominated for a César, as well as the costumes and the cinematography. The décors actually won a César.


As sloebertje noted above, the colors in The City of Lost Children are "somehow exaggerated." The fantasy elements of the film are further emphasized by this dreamlike coloring of the city, the ocean (which is green), the costumes, etc. It seems like it would be a lot of work to create scenery--and, well, water--that is so different and richly colored than normal, every day stuff. However, it was achieved with very minimal effort on the part of the scenery managers.

In order to make such wonderfully odd colors, they simply painted the actors white and adjusted the film's hue until they looked flesh-colored again. Neat trick, that, and a definite credit to whomever came up with such a technique: it works beautifully.

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