Who has stolen the child's dream? The City of Lost Children
The mad genius Krank in his evil scheme.
To what vicious depths will he not descend?
Will the tale turn to tragedy...
or have a happy end?
is a French science-fiction film following a circus strongman, One (played by Ron Perlman
), and a streetwise orphan, Miette, in their attempts to save One's adopted little brother from Krank, a mad scientist who steals dreams. It opened at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival, and was directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro, who also directed the similarly dark Delicatessen
The City of Lost Children provides examples of the following tropes:
- Adorable Evil Minions: The six cloned brothers.
- Anti-Villain: Krank suffers everything his victims do in his failed experiments, is totally incapable of understanding why even his kindest acts only frighten the children, is shown to be deeply affected by Uncle Irvin's insults, and is the way he is because something went wrong in his creation. Even at his worst, his condition is so pitiable, it's heartbreaking.
- Artificial Human: Krank and his compatriots.
- Awesome Music: Scored by Angelo Badalamenti.
- Bad Dreams
- Big Brother Instinct: One has this, first for Denrée and then for Miette. He identifies Denrée as his brother, but there's no genetic link between them. He found the kid in a garbage can.
- Big Eater: Denrée. Played for cuteness.
- The Big Guy: One, who is a circus strongman.
- The Blind Leading The Blind: A literal example with the blind leader preaching to the others that they will eventually regain their sight by following his orders.
- Brain in a Fishtank: Uncle Irvin.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: One becomes brainwashed by the Octopus and almost kills Miette.
- City with No Name
- Cloning Blues: Six cloned brothers serve Krank, and they're not sure which is the original. It's none of them — it's the Diver.
- Conjoined Twins: The Octopus.
- Conspicuous CGI: Arguably, the flea.
- Crapsack World: The city is depicted as ugly and polluted and bearing an extremely grim atmosphere, the police force is incompetent enough so that children are constantly kidnapped by Krank's associates, the Cyclops organization practically terrorizes the entire city and no one seems to have guts to stop them and citizens are occasionally mugged by the kids under the control of the Octopus.
- Creepy Circus Music: Marcello's music box, which additionally hypnotizes drugged victims into violence.
- Disaster Dominoes: Inverted; an elaborate series of chained events ends up saving One and Miette from the Octopus.
- Dream Stealer: What Krank has become.
- Dumb Muscle: It's strongly suggested that One is developmentally challenged.
- Emotionless Girl: Miette starts off as this.
- The Fagin: The Octopus's side job.
- Faux Fluency: Ron Perlman was the only American in the film and memorized all his lines, since he did not speak French. He did an excellent job from all accounts.
- Gentle Giant: One.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: The Octopus, Krank, and the Diver.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: One and Miette.
- Hulkspeak: One
- Instrument of Murder: The music box.
- Intergenerational Friendship: One and Miette.
- Lady in Red / Little Dead Riding Hood: Miette
- Mad Scientist: Krank and his creator, the Diver.
- Manipulative Bastard: Uncle Irving turns out to be this.
- A Nazi by Any Other Name: The Cyclops leader has more than a touch of Hitler in his oration. His appearance is also more than a little reminiscent of Chairman Mao.
- Older Than They Look: Krank's dreaming incapability is causing him to age rapidly.
- Rapid Aging: what ends up happening to Krank and Miette in the dreamworld.This is happening to Krank at a slower pace due to his inability to dream.
- Single-Minded Twins: The Octopus, a pair of conjoined twins.
- Skyward Scream: One does this when he thinks Miette has drowned.
- Steam Punk / Diesel Punk: Sort of.
- Suicide Attack: The Diver blows up the lab with a suicide bombing at the end.
- Tears of Remorse: Marcello when confronted by Miette who he left to die under order of the Octopus.
- Turned Against Their Masters: Apart of the creators origin.
- Twin Telepathy: The Octopus, to the point of being practically a Hive Mind.
- Water Is Air: The Diver lives permanently at the bottom of the sea near the harbor, collecting flotsam, jetsam and derelict.
- Wise Beyond Their Years: Miette, who considers One to be her little brother.