The French Mafia kidnaps several cyclists during Tour de France; a rescue attempt is staged by the grandmother of one of the victims, along with the singing triplets of Belleville. A delightfully bizarre, original piece of animation that refuses to follow a predictable formula. The initially slow pace eventually builds to a frenzied chase in the final half hour. The story has basically no dialogue; this is like watching an animated Jacques Tati film (he is celebrated in a few scenes). I love details like the huge ocean liner and the impossibly tall and thin highrises; the CGI blends smoothly with traditional animation. The story is simple but amusing and the music tends to stick, whether you like it or not.
2003-Canada-Belgium-France. Animated. 80 min. Color. Produced by Didier Brunner, Viviane Vanfleteren. Written and directed by Sylvain Chomet. Song: “Belleville Rendez-Vous” (Benoît Charest, Sylvain Chomet).
Trivia: Original title: Les triplettes de Belleville. The singing voices of the triplets were provided by Béatrice Bonifassi, Lina Boudreau and Mari-Lou Gauthier.
Last word: “For me, when you’ve worked all day on an animation and that moment when you see the drawings move, thats a really magic moment, and there is no sound to it. I also think that an animation without the constraints of spoken words is stronger. If you have to fit everything to the words, all the gestural movement revolves around the mouth. Without it, you are much freer to create true animation, to talk through animation itself. Animation modeled around the dialogue is like something, which has already been set in stone, there’s less scope for interpretation. I have always wanted the animators to bring something to it.” (Chomet, Animation World Network)