The City of Lost Children

Film Review by Michael Jaconelli | 16 Mar 2016
Film title: The City of Lost Children
Director: Marc Caro, Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Starring: Ron Perlman, Daniel Emilfork, Judith Vittet, Jean-Claude Dreyfus
Release date: 14 Mar
Certificate: 15

Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet's cult classic The City of Lost Children comes to Blu-ray

It’s Christmas Eve and a young child beams as Santa slides down the chimney, stepping into his room with a kindly smile. His brow crinkles in confusion as he is followed by another Santa. Then another. Terror engulfs the child as the room fills with Santas prowling ominously around his crib. The child’s screams transform into those of an old man in a laboratory who – unable to dream – has inadvertently stolen the child’s nightmare.

This opening scene of Caro and Jeunet’s follow-up to their cult 1991 film Delicatessen assuredly sets the tone for what is to come: a strange and inventive blend of fairy tale, dreams and steampunk stylings that doesn’t quite hold together but is nevertheless a treat to behold.

Set in a decaying waterfront populated by runaway children and grotesque adults, the film follows carnival strongman One (Ron Perlman) and his young companion Miette (Judith Vittet) as they search for One’s kidnapped brother. Chief antagonist is Krank (Daniel Emilfork), a rapidly ageing mad scientist who has been kidnapping children and stealing their dreams.

As One and Miette weave their way through the films grisly underworld, Caro and Jeunet fully indulge in their countless influences, which touch on everything from Jules Verne and Charles Dickens through to Terry Gilliam.

French fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier provides eye-catching costumes that match the voluptuously decadent aesthetic of the sets and frequent David Lynch collaborator Angelo Badalamenti laces the film with an atmospheric score. Yet for all its visual splendour and rampant imagination, the film never fully manages to coalesce. It remains as it begins – a haunting dream. One you're happy to return to again and again.


The fairly standard making-of and behind-the-scenes features are relatively brief but interesting – as is the short interview with the film's costume designer Jean Paul Gaultier, in which he details his influences and initial design concepts.

Released by StudioCanal