R5 -The Triplets of Belleville - Animated Movie

Ah, France. The land of the elegant. Also the land of wine, cheese, baguettes, chocolate mousse, onion soup, french fries and everyone’s favorite; crème brûlée. Damn, maybe I’m just hungry. There’s so much to tell about France and everything that’s French, most of which reside outside my level of knowledge, so I’ll just shut up. I know nothing about the country.


Let me rephrase that again.


Ah, France. The land of freaks. Where people are born deformed, have lacking means of communication, bicycling is the national point of obsession and architecture makes your spine rattle. You can’t tell apart your mafia from a walking coffin. Their means of earning their blood-money is also questionable. It could be worse though, just look at the United States. Land of the fat and ignorant. Where people enjoy music performed with newspapers and vaccuums. Dinner is harvested by fragging frogs off the lake and television is filled with stupid people fooling themselves. Huh.. Maybe I misjudged a bit..

The movie.


The Triplets of Belleville is an animated feature film by the French film production Les Armateurs. It was released in 2003 and is certainly distinct enough to be worth a watch. I last saw this movie like 12 years ago, so only some highlights remain. I didn’t have any idea as a kid how bizarre and special this movie was.


            “Is the movie over?”



Young ‘Champion Souza’ is living with his grandmother, ‘Madame’. How original names. (Mention: This is the first time I’ve heard any of their names. There is minimal spoken dialogue in the movie, all of which is in French.) I’ll refer them as Granny and Sonny for now. It’s the 1930s.


Granny is concerned for Sonny’s happiness. He doesn’t seem to occupy any hobbies or interests. After trying to excite him with piano playing, miniature trains and a pet dog (named ‘Bruno’), nothing seems to quite click. She finds out about his desire for bicycling and gets him his very first tricycle!


Fast forward a few years, Sonny is training for Tour de France with Granny coaching him. Not everything goes well when people start going missing in middle of the race. Turns out, local mafia is collecting professional cyclists for their underground business! With Sonny missing, Granny and Bruno chase the mafia van and ends up tailing a cargo ship across the Atlantic Ocean all the way to the United States. On a paddleboat.


Granny is overwhelmed by the foreign country but remains determined to search and rescue her grandson. During her journey, she meets the famous Belleville Triplets. They used to be a big deal back in the day, but times change. She discovers the sisters’ strange obsession with frogs. Poor eat poorly, as they might say.


Granny performs with the sisters at a club. Such luck, as the mafia in question happens to be there as well. Bruno catches Sonny’s scent in them and ends up causing a scene. This proves really useful for Granny. Their first actual clue! The mafia is keeping the three cyclists drugged and busy with a stationary cycling simulation. The race is being gambled on. If you stop, you die.


The movie climaxes with a daring rescue by Granny, Bruno and the triplets. After an action-packed chase by dozens of mafia henchmen, they get away safely. Movie ends with the now-elderly Sonny, watching TV alone at home.


“Is the movie over?”

“…Yes, grandmother. It’s over.”

The review.


The base plot of the movie may collide with clichés. It’s a really interesting movie but the story is predictable at times. Same could probably be said about most movies. What makes this movie so special is the animation quality. Now imagine the movie with these exceptions:


Everything is really cartoon-ish and people wear strange behaviors and expressions at all times. There’s these character who represent a mouse, a dog and several other caricatures. There’s just something uncanny about everyone in this movie. The cargo ship is a thin, vastly tall boat which defies any laws of physics. (this was one of the few details I remembered from years past.) The mafia members are literally black cubes with faces that can merge with each other.


The triplets are also a strange bunch. They hunt their frogs with frag grenades. Main course is fried toads in a suspicious sauce. For dessert we have boiled tadpoles. Yummy! The sisters perform their music with newspapers, refrigerators and vacuum cleaners. Granny joins in with a bicycle tire. This reminds me of myself riding through Finland with an ancient 3-speed bicycle. You don’t necessarily need high-end equipment to accomplish something beautiful.


If anyone told you an indie company cannot produce high quality animated films, punch them in the groin. Then feel bad about doing so because a person on the internet told you so. Come on, that counts as sexual harassment! You should be ashamed of yourself.


That was the last dumb joke of the evening, I swear! I’ll even grant you permission to PUNch me the next time.







September 25th, 2018

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