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Film / Madeline

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The 1998 film adaption of the Madeline book series by Ludwig Bemelmans.

The film is about a young, orphaned girl named Madeline, who attends boarding school with eleven other girls in Paris, France, in the 1950s. Following her Appendectomy, a Spanish boy named Pepito moves in next door and begins to cause havoc towards the girls, while his tutor intends to use the boy for a more sinister plot. Soon, the owner of the school reveals his intentions to sell the house, since his wife has just passed away.

It's up to Madeline and her friends to save their school from closing, tame the boy next door and prevent a villain from promoting his plan.

This film contains examples of:

  • Actionized Adaptation: An action-oriented subplot is added with the villain posing as a tutor for Pepito and subsequently kidnapping him and Madeline for ransom.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The Movie managed to faithfully recreate four of the books in a span of 90 minutes: Madeline, Madeline's Rescue, Madeline and the Bad Hat, and Madeline and the Gypsies.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Madeline's hair is bright candy-apple red in the books, while it's a much lighter red in the film, bordering on strawberry blonde.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Part of Lord Covington's gruff and almost cruel demeanor stems from his grief at losing his wife early on.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Pepito is changed from an animal abuser in the books and DiC series to a Badass Biker, and is less cruel to the girls. He does (nearly) commit animal cruelty when he almost feeds a live mouse to a snake, much to Madeline's chagrin, but it's nowhere near the extent of the book.
  • Adaptation Name Change: In this continuity, Lord Cucuface is renamed Lord Covington. He is called "Cucuface" by Madeline as a Malicious Misnaming, though. Mrs. Murphy's first name is Hélène here, too.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: Compared to the DiC animated series. Madeline is more abrasive, bordering on Jerk with a Heart of Gold, as opposed to her more sweetly spunky cartoon characterization. Ms. Clavel becomes a Badass Teacher (and driver) in the third act. Hélène (originally Mrs. Murphy) is changed from a timid cook to The Lad-ette, and instead of all the girls being the best of friends, one of them, Vicki, is an Alpha Bitch. Since the original books are fairly thin in characterization, it makes sense that different adaptations should take the characters in different directions
  • Alpha Bitch: Vicki. She comes from a rich family, and her uncle is the British Ambassador to Spain.
  • Artistic Title: The opening credits feature Clip-Art Animation of the front covers of the first three books, capped off with a dissolve from a drawing of the school to a live-action establishing shot of the building.
  • Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: The use of the word "damn" a few times in the movie was more or less there to give the movie a PG rating.
  • Badass Biker: Pepito, especially during the climax.
  • Badass Teacher: Miss Clavel eventually proves to be this.
  • Batman Gambit: At one point, Madeline tells Pepito to be quiet and stay out of trouble while the prospective buyers are looking at the school, knowing that he'll do the exact opposite.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Madeline. Don't frighten her friends or feed baby mice to a snake, or you'll have a young girl try to gut you down.
  • Break the Haughty: Madeline does this to Lord Covington at the end.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The motorcycle used by the Idiots during the circus scene.
    • Also, there is Hélène's foul-smelling cheese, the solid oak door, and Pepito, which were later used as part of Madeline's ploy to turn off potential ambassadors.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Pepito's ability to drive motercycles is what saved him and Madeline from Leopold.
  • Conveniently-Placed Sharp Thing: The Idiots leave their knives inside the truck, and Madeline spots them, allowing her and Pepito to cut themselves free.
  • Darker and Edgier: The DiC animated series (with the exception of Lost in Paris) is tame compare to the film when it comes to adaptions. It helps that the film contains frightening scenes, a character dying of illness early on, child kidnapping and the use of the word "damn".
  • Even Evil Has Standards: One of the Idiots, despite having taken part in the kidnapping of children, draws the line at driving into a nun. He even crosses himself when he first sees her. The other two have no such qualms, however.
  • Evil Clown: The Idiots.
  • Feet-First Introduction: The viewers first see Madeline as she searches for her hat. The camera focuses on her shoes, then reveals her face once she finds her hat underneath some furniture.
  • The '50s: Set in 1957 rather than 1939 to avoid references to World War II.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar
    Hélène: I once fell in love with a carnival man. He broke my heart, you know. And he had a beautiful tattoo down...
    Miss Clavel: Hélène, please!
  • Good Is Not Soft: Madeline. She actually attacks Pepito when he attempts to feed a baby mouse to a snake. She later confronts Leopold after seeing him kidnap Pepito, but finds herself captured as well.
  • "Good Luck" Gesture
  • Hairpin Lockpick: Leopold teaches Pepito how to use this trick when the keys from his motorcycle were stolen. Pepito uses this later at the climax.
  • Hate at First Sight: Madeline to Pepito, despite him helping her catch her hat after it's blown off. Her hatred is sealed later that night after he frightens the whole class in a demon costume.
  • Heartwarming Orphan: Madeline is one in this adaptation.
  • Hey, Wait!: One of the Idiots gets left behind and calls out to the group about him, but nothing happens
  • Like a Son to Me: Or daughter in this case: Miss Clavel for Madeline. Since Madeline is an orphan, Miss Clavel is the closest thing to a mother she has.
  • Literal-Minded: Upon hearing a classmate exclaim, "Madeline's burning upnote , Miss Clavel!" Chantal offers to call the fire department.
  • Mama Bear: Miss Clavel goes through so much to save Madeline in the climax.
  • Meaningful Echo: "I can do anything." Madeline first says this just before undergoing surgery at the begining of the film (having been taught those four words by Miss Clavel). She later recalls those words when captured with Pepito near the end of the film, which ultimately leads to them escaping.
  • Meganekko: Chantel
  • Named by the Adaptation: As with other adaptations, the other girls are given names for this movie. Some of them are named Aggie, Vicki, Chantal, Lolo, Serena, Beatrice, Lucinda, and Marie Odile
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Leopold teaching Pepito to use a hairpin for a key wasn't the smartest thing for him, as he uses this to use the motorcycle in the truck both Madeline and Pepito were inside.
  • Noodle Incident: The reason why the first ambassador couple refused to purchase the Old House is due to bad memories of a reckless boy from another country, whom Pepito reminded them of.
  • Oh, Crap!: Miss Clavel gets this twice, always saying "Something is not right". The second time she says it, she puts her nun outfit back on before checking up on the girls.
    • Madeline and Genevieve get this when Lord Covington gives an ambassador couple a tour of the house, and hide in the kitchen. Then Covington takes the couple to the kitchen, guaranteeing that they will be caught... until the ambassador mentions that "kitchens are his staff's business", causing them to not enter.
  • Overly Long Name: Jose Marco Filippo Franloco Lopez de Vega Esteban Machado Jorge Santiago dela Rocha Gaspar Carlos de Fuentes Coruna Diego y Sevilla, aka, Pepito. This is somewhat Truth in Television as Hispanic people often pass down names from their ancestors.
  • Parental Substitute: Miss Clavel is the closest thing to a mother for Madeline.
  • Road Apples: Lord Covington stepped on some dog poop after leaving the school, which he was able to find out about them keeping a dog in the yard.
  • Ruptured Appendix: At the beginning of the movie, as with the original book.
  • Saving the Boarding School: An original subplot in the film where Lord Covington wants to sell the boarding school after his wife's death.
  • Ship Tease: Quite a few between Madeline and Pepito. When Leopold kidnaps them near the end of the film, a police officer wants to believe that they ran away together out of love.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Leopold's henchman. It helps that they are circus clowns called the Idiots.
  • The End: Written in French, "Fin", at the end of the movie.
  • They Don't Make Them Like They Used To: The solid oak door in the Old House, which Lord Covington seems to be quite proud of. The door was later unhinged during the Indian Ambassador's tour of the house.
  • Unconventional Vehicle Chase: Leopold and his idiot henchmen have the motorcycle they used for their acts kept inside the truck Madeline and Pepito were trapped. Guess what happens?
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: One of the idiot henchmen is left behind when Leopold and the other two chase after Madeline and Pepito in the stolen motorcycle. We don't know if he got arrested or if he got away.