Jean-Pierre Jeunet (YGtCTO #177)

The City of Lost Children

A film directed by Marc Caro & Jean-Pierre Jeunet and written by Gilles Adrien, Jean-Pierre Jeunet & Marc Caro

We lived in Pittsburgh around the corner from a video store when private video stores were viable- even downright reasonable as a business model. Like everyone else with a VCR, we belonged to one or more video store and made our weekly pilgrimage. Usually, this meant pick up something to watch for Friday night and return it through the slot on Sunday unless it was a “HOT” title- then it had to be back on Saturday before noon.

Unless I was home sick, which I only remember one time. Because I stumbled to the video store in need of entertainment that would stop me from doing more than lying on the sofa. If you were in my path at the time and came down with something, well, let me apologize now. I picked two weird-looking films that seemed like the sort of things no one else would watch with me: The Last Supper and The Young Poisoner’s Handbook.

If you have seen them or even clicked on those links, let me just say that it is quite the enhanced experience if you have a mild fever and make those a double feature. True, I had weird nightmares for a while and tended to wash everything really well while also becoming adverse to eating out. On the plus side, I really liked thinking about those movies. They stuck with me in a way that I describe as positive, which does seem counter-intuitive. Maybe they would have without the fever, but it was a complete experience.

Jean-Pierre Jeunet

I liked odd movies
before that, but much more in the ain’t-Monty-Python-odd way. True, access to unusual films was limited to cinemas that showed midnight movies and odd hours of independent television stations for most of my youth, so the palate I knew was already limited until video stores dotted the landscape like happy little pock marks, doomed to fade into memory except for the scars.

In my effort to recreate the prior experience, I checked out any number of movies. So, so many of them have fallen by the wayside, condemned to the tiny listings of the Internet Movie Database. None of the really outré films qualified as great with one exception: The City of Lost Children. I may have known about Jeunet’s prior work on Delicatessen, quite the little gore-fest that one. I definitely saw it before Amelie was released, going so far as to see that film because I already knew Jeunet’s work. A Very Long Engagement may even be superior to both.

But The City of Lost Children is the one that made those nightmares worth it. I watch Ron Perlman in any movie because of it. Traversing Pan’s Labyrinth was a natural progression. It is possible to trace all of it back to Chaplin and Lang, when they first stepped off the main road. For the rest of us, as the audience, that first step has to come somewhere else.

What’s it all about?

You’ve Got to Check This Out is a blog series about music, words, and all sorts of artistic matters. It started with an explanation. 123 more to go.

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