The City Of Lost Children

HD-DVD Rating: ****1/2

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Read Angus Wolfe Murray's film review of The City Of Lost Children
The City Of Lost Children

28 years after its original cinema release, Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro's fantastically imaginative dark fairy tale has been restored in Ultra-HD quality for home viewing. Having attracted a cult following over that time, and boasting a star (Ron Perlman) who is now much more famous, it's bound to appeal to genre fans, and it's also a good choice for kids who like their entertainment a little on the scary side, despite the US choosing to give it an NC 17 certificate.

Some of the extras included her are pretty old and haven't been given the restoration treatment, so whilst the film looks beautiful, they're a little rougher on the eyes. The Jean-Paul Gaultier interview, which might be better described as a Jean-Paul Gaultier quote dressed up with some archive footage on either side, has a seriously unpleasant flicker in places, but if you can handle that, you'll still find it enjoyable. Despite its brevity it gives a bit of insight into the costume design process which is supported by some of the original sketches which Gaultier worked on with Marc Caro, and discussed further by Caro in the interview in this package.

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Caro is notably absent elsewhere, a man clearly happier behind the camera. In one of the features he appears only in silhouette; he spend most of the interview with at least one hand obscuring his face, forgetting to be shy only when he gets carried away, enthusing about cast and crew. Jeunet could not be more different. Alone on the audio commentary, he enjoys the opportunity to talk more, and it's pretty clear that he has much more to say than there is room for here. A whole extra layer of material is added to the film as we learn how he kept his young stars focused and entertained by making up stories and games, how he instilled genuine terror with the first scene's Father Christmases and how the actors playing them kept passing out because of the heat on set. He has fantastic anecdotes to go with every scene, all the while elucidating the skills of his collaborators and pointing out famous faces in the background. He goes into great detail about the construction of the sets, but keeps apologising for aspects of the story which are hard to follow because the production ran out of money and couldn't tie everything together as neatly as planned. The effect of this is to add in rich narrative detail missing from the film itself.

There's a fair bit of overlap across the features here, but that doesn't make them any less fascinating. Other key team members, including actors and the set designer, share their thoughts. We see how early CGI, fresh for Jurassic Park, was applied in various ways to enhance the look of the film, pushing that technology in new directions. This was a pivotal period in the history of film and Jeunet and Caro were wise enough not to overextend their reliance on digital effects, so we also see some amazing practical work of a sort rarely done today and rarely that ambitious when it was done. There are also salutary lessons in what to expect when working with a three year old who is only intermittently interested in the film and spends the rest of his time being Zorro. in one scene, the crew wear cabbage leaves on their heads in order to get him to produce the desired expression. Nine-year-old star Judith Vittet, by contrast, was such an assured professional that she critiqued her own performance, directed other children and kept track of continuity.

DVD and Blu-ray features rarely offer this level of insight and entertainment. For fans of the film, this is a must.

Reviewed on: 02 Apr 2023
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The City Of Lost Children packshot
A fairground strongman searches for his brother in a grotesque world of artificial intelligence.
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Product Code: B0BVWSVRJ1

Region: 0

Extras: Interview with directors Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro; the making of The City Of Lost Children; behind the scenes; interview with designer Jean Paul Gaultier; audio commentary with director Jean-Pierre Jeunet

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