5 Best French Cartoon Movies

Thursday, March 17 by Stephen Lloyd

The 5 best French cartoon movies, though all singular and unique, exhibit the introspective, artistic nature that French cinema has become known for.

  1. "Fantastic Planet." The title is La Planete Sauvage in French. Made in 1973, this science fiction film is the best French cartoon movie. It has all the spacey psychedelic trappings of early Pink Floyd. The animation style owes a lot to avant garde French comic book artist Moebius. Strange creatures and vistas dominate, as well as the strategic use of color. The story tells of the large, blue telepathic Draags subjugation of humans, called Oms, as pets. The central theme is of race relations.
  2. "Kaena: The Prophecy." The title is Kaena: La prophetie in French. This 2003 cartoon movie was originally conceived as a video game. But the gaming world's loss is cinema's gain. The story tells of a battle that results in an immense vine-like tree called Axis growing up into space above a planet, evolving humanoid life centuries later. These people worship monstrous gods, looking much like the creatures from the Alien movies, that exploit them. Kaena, having prophetic dreams, sets out to prove their religion false. The CGI animation's strength is the expert use of glowing light and shadow as well as the inventive look of Axis' creatures. The movie expertly shows confinement and vastness alternately.
  3. "The Triplets of Belleville." The title is Les Triplettes de Belleville in French. This 2003 cartoon movie has very unique animation. With a comic book-like look, browns, greens and dark blues dominate. The caricatured faces of the people add to the surreal quality. There is very little dialogue. Music and mime is used most often to tell the story. This allows the animation to shine ever more brightly. The story relates the tale of an elderly woman raising her grandson and his fat hound. When he is kidnapped after becoming a professional cyclist, she and the dog set off to rescue him. There is no film quite like this which makes it one of the best French cartoon movies.
  4. "Persepolis." Based on the popular autobiographical graphic novel, this 2007 cartoon movie is about a Marjane Satrapi growing up during the Iranian revolution of the 1970s. The animation is all stark black and white, therefore not changed much at all from the graphic novel. This helps to emphasize the strict rules of the new regime. But there is humor too, like when Marjane discovers heavy metal and punk rock. The movie is more about how the revolution shapes Marjane as a person than about the revolution itself. Persepolis illuminates a story that's not often told, in a French cartoon movie or otherwise.
  5. "Kirikou And The Sorceress." The title is Kirikou et la sorciere in French. This 1998 cartoon movie takes its story from West African folk-tales. Kirikou is a small infant born with the ability to speak and walk. He is also very wise. When he finds out from his mother that an evil sorceress is terrorizing their village he sets out to do something about it. Like many African stories, this has a moralistic and cautionary aspect. There is a slight repetitiveness but that doesn't ruin the movie. The animation is richly colorful and has an interesting two-dimensional look akin to old-style theater flats.
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