The Triplets of Belleville

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The plot in a nutshell
This French animated film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film.  It's the story of a young boy, orphaned and living with his grandmother, Mme Souza.  She tries to find something to reach the emotionally distant boy, and finally hits upon a tricycle.  The boy loves it, and cycling becomes his life.  While in the Tour de France, he's kidnapped by the French mafia for nefarious purposes.  Mme Souza, with the help of a dog named Bruno and the title characters (a rather odd and old vaudeville act), sets out to rescue him.

This is a quirky film on first viewing, with an odd but tremendously beautiful animation style.  It's almost entirely silent, with very little dialog but absolutely amazing music.  For a story with very few words, it has a lot to say.

Relatively Spoiler Free Thoughts
This is one of those films that's like an ogre - it has lots of layers.  At first viewing, it can be seen as a simple, pretty animated film, with a cute story and interesting characters.  But there's quite a bit going on here, and given time, this film could become a favorite of yours.

As I mentioned earlier, the animation is absolutely gorgeous.  A rich, full style, the characters convey meaning, emotion and feeling through their expressions and actions.  We know how much Souza loves her grandson, how mindless he is in his pursuit of a goal, how much Bruno hates the train, and how batty but sweet the Triplets of Belleville are, all without any spoken words.

There's much below the surface here however, with many messages about a goal oriented life, and the emptiness of mass consumerism.  Some people have felt the film is anti-American, with it's portrayal as fat, hamburger chomping, and loud.  But the portrayal of the French is certainly no more flattering, and it simply laughs at all of us, each with our rather unique foibles.

The use of the train in the film, and it's relationship to Bruno, was perhaps the most interesting.  Does it represent consumerism, industrialism and progress?  And if so, what is the film saying about our mindless drive forward?

This movie also has one of the more unique car chases in history, and the rescue of Champion (the grandson) is exciting and fun.  The end of the film leaves us to ponder what the film was really saying though, and may cause you to reflect on your own goal oriented life.  It's not a traditional 'cartoon', but uses the style to be more than just a kid's movie.

Rating - Rent It. 
Okay, this movie isn't for everyone.  It's quirky and odd, and the lack of dialog may put some folks off.  It's also not for kids, not so much because of anything that could be construed as violent or obscene (although the one vaudeville act at the beginning has a bit of a costume malfunction), but because the movie speaks to many experiences they have yet to understand.  And while some might construe that to mean it's an 'artsy' film, that shouldn't put off the fans of animation.  It's a short movie, only about 75 minutes, so skip a couple sitcoms this week and check it out.

Spoiler Laden Thoughts
There's nothing to note here - but you may find there's plenty to discuss after watching it.

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