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Western Animation / Felidae

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It's Film Noir....with cats!

"Greetings and salutations, friends. Sit back in your seats, look hard, and listen, because I've got a story to tell, and it's not going to be pretty."
Francis's opening narration. And he's not kidding in the slightest.

Felidae is the 1994 German animated film based upon a book of the same name by Akif Pirinçci, a German-Turkish author. Thanks to the internet, the film has gained something of a cult status.

The story of Felidae centers on a male cat named Francis as he and his owner, Gustav (nicknamed "Gus" by Francis), move into a new home of unknown location. Upon investigating his new home, Francis not only meets the sarcastic Manx stray named Bluebeard, but he also encounters the body of a murdered cat (as Bluebeard points out, it's the fourth murder that occurred in the past few days). It's not long until Francis begins to unravel the mystery surrounding the murdered cats, a strange cult known as the "Claudandus Sect", and the meaning behind the enigma known as "Felidae."

Despite being an animated film, it is definitely not for kids. The film contains graphic violence, disturbing images, adult language, and cat sex. Yes, cat sex.


Felidae provides examples of:

  • Abandoned Laboratory: Gus and Francis' house was used as a small-scale research lab with cats as the test subjects.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: In the book, Solitaire is killed for more or less the same reasons that the local tomcats have been killed...because the male Felidae have been going around and mating with "impure" females; it's suggested that Solitaire was one such female and that not all of the kittens were Kong's. In the movie, only Nhozemphtekh is shown, giving the implication that all the murders were because regular male cats tried to mate with her and other female Felidae, making Solitaire's death look pointless.
  • Adapted Out: Rosalie (Preterius's wife) and Felicity's unnamed owner are absent from the film.
  • Affably Evil: Pascal, who acts very friendly towards Francis and even seems to help him, despite being the cat version of a militant Eugenicist.
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  • Ambiguous Disorder: According to Francis, his owner is mentally defective, but it's unclear exactly how true that is.
  • Amplified Animal Aptitude:
    • These are some smart cats, able to perfectly understand humans, read, and work a computer. It's mentioned, however, that all of these things take some time and practice to learn, and some cats don't bother learning anything past human speech. This intelligence is kind of required for a murder mystery, anyway.
    • Francis is shown as being extremely smart, even among other such smart cats, though his finding of the "Felidae" data in the computer may seem a bit of a stretch to some viewers. The whole issue is much clearer in the book, as Pascal actually spends some time teaching Francis how the computer is used, and the data for the "Felidae" project was stored close to the catalog of neighborhood cats. Also, it's heavily implied both in the book and in the movie that Claudandus wanted Francis to find those files because he wants Francis to be his successor.
    • The cats are also shown to choose what they wish to learn based on their interests. Francis is quite intrigued in the movie and first book by Pascal's use of a computer, and in the second book by Ambrosius being able to not only read, but write by dipping his claws in ink and carefully scratching the letters onto paper.
  • Animals Lack Attributes: Despite the sex, violence, and casual talk of male anatomy, played straight most of the time. A few cats, however (such as Bluebeard) have sketched anuses, perhaps to emphasize their earthier nature.
  • Animal Talk: The cats can communicate with each other and understand humans. Humans, however, can't understand them, and are completely oblivious to the murder mystery scenario. Claudandus was actually able to talk to Preterius by imitating human language, though.
  • Animal Testing: Dear Lord. Like the murders weren't horrible fuel enough. Francis comes across a tape of a perfectly healthy cat, shown meowing and struggling, being bolted to a table and having its head cut open to test a new "glue" for wounds. Said glue eats through its skull into its brain while it is conscious as the scientist impartially narrates and observes its dying twitches. Enough to give anyone nightmares (and check that your own pets are where you left them). As if that wasn't enough, most of the cats in Francis' neighborhood are mangled by the lab's experiments — Felicity is blinded, Bluebeard has a withered paw, and Claudandus goes insane.
  • Anyone Can Die: Francis and Bluebeard survive, but other than that, the book/film doesn't discriminate much, whether you're the Big Bad (Claudandus/Pascal), The Dragon (Joker), a Dirty Old Man (Deep Purple), a pregnant female (Solitaire), or arguably the most sympathetic character (Felicity).
  • Arc Words: The title is brought up in conversations a couple of times. including the name of the breeding/genetics program Claudandus is running.
  • Asshole Victim: Preterius, the mad doctor that experimented on many cats, is eventually killed when a deranged Claudandus shreds his throat open.
  • Art-Style Dissonance: For a movie with extreme violence and a rather jaded tone, the art direction is pretty cartoonish.
  • Batman Gambit: Claudandus deliberately stops hiding his victims in order to lead Francis to discovering his scheme and eventually becoming his successor. The first part of the plan succeeds, the second fails. Might also contain elements of Xanatos Speed Chess. Since the whole plan completely relies on the completely contingent element of Francis deciding to take over Claudandus' position (which he refuses), it might even qualify as Out-Gambitted.
  • Battle Amongst the Flames: The final confrontation between Francis and Claudandus AKA Pascal has this due to Claudandus knocking over a computer monitor
  • Becoming the Mask: Subverted. Claudandus was the real personality the whole time, he only used his Pascal persona to follow through with his plans, which he drops during his fight with Francis once he's been found out.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Francis: Smart and loyal, he comes to care about the cats around him. And a murderous fighter when finally cornered by Claudandus.
    • Pascal: Intelligent, literate, soft-spoken, eager to help, eugenicist, mass murderer.
  • Big Bad: Claudandus, AKA Pascal, is behind all the killings, and behind a genetics program that wants to undo domestication.
  • Big Eater: Bluebeard, more so in the film, especially after the catacomb scene. "All I want is a hot meal beside a warm fire. What I want is codfiissssshhh..."
  • Cats Are Snarkers: Francis and Bluebeard snark a lot during their conversations, even when dealing with potential foes.
  • Characters as Device: The kitten Pepeline, whose purpose is to reveal that Claudandus is still alive. Though her character is more fleshed out in the book. She doesn't even share her name in the movie at all!
  • Children Are Innocent: Pepeline, who Cannot Tell a Lie. She provides the clue that Claudandus is in fact alive, and that if Joker is not Claudandus, he at least knows his real/fake identity.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Ziebold. Not only he's Dr. Preterius' former assistant but also the person that saved Pascal Claudandus from the lab as well as his current owner. He is also obsessed with Gregor Mendel, which is where Claudandus got his idea in the first place — and the final clue for Francis to tie in that Claudandus IS Pascal, and yet he's The Faceless.
  • The Chessmaster: Claudandus/Pascal, given his genetics program that he is working on, and it is actually working.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Isaiah, the guardian of the dead. His information provides several hints to solving the mystery, including a connection between Joker and Claudandus. He is a more sympathetic example than most. He's spent his whole life believing that he was destined to guard the dead. When Francis come, Isaiah thinks Francis is going to kill him because Isaiah believes that he has sinned for going outside. Also, there's this line when Francis is asking Isaiah questions about the dead bodies he received-
    Francis: Were there any that were pregnant?
    Isaiah: Many... oh yes, many...
  • Cool Old Guy: Pascal is incredibly smart, friendly, and charismatic, and seems genuinely interested in helping find the killer. Which is himself.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Felicity, with her neck bitten and her head torn off. Solitaire, with her neck bitten and her womb opened, spilling out the amniotic fluid, sack and fetuses of the pregnant cat, and Claudandus AKA Pascal, with his body opened, eviscerating him. That last one, however, borders on being a Karmic Death
  • Cult: The Claudandus Sect, built around Claudandus as a messianic figure that ascended to heaven following Preterius' experiments. Truth is Claudandus is actually alive.
  • Dark Messiah: Claudandus/Pascal. Claudandus is presented as a messianic figure by Joker to the Claudandus Sect, and as a possible savior. Claudandus, as Pascal, is trying to save cats, but has to kill many for his genetics program to work.
  • Death of a Child: Dams and their kittens die all over the place.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Kong, who comes across as very aggressively gay in his first appearance, but is later revealed to have been the mate of a female murder victim.
  • Deranged Animation:
    • Francis's psychedelic dream of Gregor Mendel using thousands of cat corpses as marionettes takes the cake.
    • There's that dream he has in the beginning in which Francis meets Professor Preterius.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • Claudandus's plans to create a race of "genetically perfect" cats while murdering those he considers to be inferior. Sound familiar?
    • In one dream, after seeing a film about a scientist creating a race of "super-cats" Francis sees God/The Übermensch, who calls himself "Felidae," meaning all of catkind, as gold/blonde-haired and lapis/blue eyes. Does This Remind You of Anything?
    • In this movie, the mysterious Felidae cats are essentially a stand-in for "Aryans".
    • Dr. Preterius' horrific experiments on the cats bear more than a passing resemblance to those carried out on humans by Josef Mengele.
    • The concept of "Felidae" seems close to Nietzsche's "Ubermensch" (Super-Man).
  • Dubbing: The film was dubbed in English simultaneously which was obviously done to help it reach a wider audience.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Gregor Mendel in Francis' infamous dream. The book somehow makes it even worse.
  • Electric Torture: Used on the cats by the Claudandus cult. It's seen by certain cats as a way to "see who's chicken".
  • Evilutionary Biologist: Preterius, and his subject, Claudandus. Particularly the latter given his breeding/genetics program he was running
  • Evolutionary Levels: Claudandus seems to think he's helping to create a "superior" breed of cats.
  • The Faceless: None of the humans in the film are shown above their shoulders. Except:
    • In Francis' first dream, where Dr Preterius is shown, albeit with a black hole and demonic eyes for a face.
    • In the video footage hidden in the basement, which shows Dr Preterius and his two assistants fully. And even then, Preterius is the only one who is seen unmasked.
  • Fallen Hero: Claudandus is seen as a Hero and a Messiah figure (not a Messianic Archetype though) by the Claudandus Sect. Might be interpreted as fallen from the viewers/readers point of view when we find out his backstory — Although by then, he has gone far from being a Well-Intentioned Extremist.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Bluebeard often refers to humans as "Can-Openers", and thinks the only thing mankind is good at is opening cans of food for cats.
    • Also, Claudandus wants to create a master race of cats to overthrow the humans.
    • Felicity mentions that cats can adapt to anything save a dog kennel.
    • Bluebeard complains at one point about a new breed of cats moving in and taking over the neighborhood.
    • As it turns out, the new breed is specifically being bred to lose its domestic nature and overthrow humans one day. After the mastermind's death, though, the newcomers begin to integrate with the other cats more, losing their ferocity while it's still in its early stages.
  • Fat and Skinny: Francis' owner Gustav, and his (only) friend Archie.
  • Final Speech:
    Claudandus: So much darkness in the world, so much darkness, Francis. No light. Only darkness. And there is always someone who will take it upon himself. Always. Always. Always. I have become evil, but once I, too, was good...
  • Free-Range Pets: The cats' owners are almost nonexistent.
  • Freudian Excuse: The reason Claudandus, AKA Pascal commits murders is because of experimentation by Dr. Preterius.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Based on the opening narration, the readers/viewers already know that Francis will make it out alive in the end.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Claudandus, AKA Pascal, given that he was a lowly stray cat that was experimented on and became the Big Bad.
  • Gonk:
    • Kong is approximately three times larger than any other cat in the film, has a lower jaw that juts out extremely far, and looks more like a cross between a bear and a buffalo than a cat. His henchmen, Herrmann and Herrmann, also qualify to some degree.
    • One of the Herrmanns has crossed eyes. The book explains that both Herrmanns are Oriental Shorthair mutants, and crossed eyes used to be fairly common among many Oriental breeds, justifying Herrmann's appearance.
  • Good Cannot Comprehend Evil: Felicity is very open, savvy enough to ask 'friend or foe?' when a stranger drops in, but accepts the answer at face value. She also has little memory of the experiment that blinded her, so she considers humanity as a whole to be good. And then she meets soft-spoken Pascal - the most prominent subject of Preterius' experiments - for the last time.
  • Gorn: Relatively rare, but a few scenes gallop straight across this line. Particularly true of Felicity's beheading, Solitare having the kittens gutted out of her, and Claudandus' evisceration by Francis at the end.
  • Grumpy Old Man: Deep Purple. He ends up being the fifth victim, and an essential clue to the link of the murders.
  • Gutted Like a Fish: This is how Francis finished off Claudandus in the movie. In the book, Francis bit Claudandus' jugular vein.
  • He Knows Too Much: The reason why Felicity was killed.
  • Hollywood Acid: The Info Dump experiment log states that the acid in the skin-glue Doctor Preterius was working on was strong enough to dissolve bone, and completely destroyed the brain of the first test subject.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Subverted. Claudandus is a misotheist.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Claudandus/Pascal tells Francis that he had no choice but to kill in order for his breeding program to succeed.
  • I Have Many Names: In one of Francis's dreams, he sees a golden cat with blue eyes. "I'm the Prophet, I'm the Human, I'm the Beast, and I am also... Felidae."
  • Informed Ability: Bluebeard is a feline equivalent of a war veteran, with a bobbed tail, bad eye and lame paw - and one Death Glare from him is enough to get Kong, easily twice his size, to back right down. However, we never actually see him fight except when Claudandus ambushes and disables him with a neck-bite without him so much as raising a paw.
  • Insufferable Genius: Bluebeard considers Francis this, but the truth is that Francis is more a Wide-Eyed Idealist that genuinely wants to solve the murder mystery and stop the killing in his neighborhood.
  • Is That What They're Calling It Now?: When Francis uses the term "fornication" to note the similarities between Sascha and Deep Purple's deaths, Bluebeard replies, "Back in my day, we use to call it screwing."
  • It's Personal: Claudandus kills Felicity, a completely innocent, crippled cat, just to make the case personal to Francis.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Likewise, huge, hulking, bully Kong is shown to have something of a soft side when he mourns the death of his pregnant mate, Solitaire.
  • Just Between You and Me: Claudandus to Francis when he finally discovers who the killer is.
  • Killed to Uphold the Masquerade: Joker is killed, as it is possible he would reveal the truth behind Claudandus.
  • Kill the Cutie: Poor Felicity is killed ostensibly to prevent Francis from getting more clues - when in reality, it's to make it personal to him, and assure that he follows the case to its conclusion.
  • Knight Templar: Claudandus presents himself like this, especially in the book, to justify his breeding/genetics program.
  • Large Ham: Joker, as the prophet and leader of the Claudandus sect is prone to histrionics, more so in the German version.
  • Last of His Kind: Eight the lynx. He was part of a group brought from Canada to Germany to help boost the native population, but with their normal food source no longer available to them, the group quickly dwindled from starvation and being shot after they attacked livestock in desperation. It's possible that a few of them survived, but Eight has no clue where they are and has resigned himself to being alone for the rest of his life.
  • Let Me Tell You a Story: The framing device around the entire plot. The opening narration by Francis tells the audience that he's going to be describing the murder mystery as a story, "[A]nd it's not going to be pretty."
  • Mad Scientist: Preterius. Though, he's more of a rambling drunken scientist as his failures on his research piled on and on.
  • Made of Plasticine: The cats get ripped apart rather easily, it seems. This is most obvious in the climax when the Big Bad gets his entire guts and ribs ripped open from a single claw across the stomach, though Francis reopened the scar from when Preterius vivisected Claudandus. Several times. His stomach was practically paper-thin by then.
  • Madness Mantra:
    • "HYBRID PLANT EXPERIMENTS!" Dream Gregor raves out this while controlling undead marionette cats.
    • In the novel, there's the Deep Purple nightmare sequence. "Get them to prescribe some pills for immortality and creams for potency! For potency! For potency! For potency!" Now imagine kittens being pulled out of his torn throat and slammed against the wall.
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: Ziebold, Pascal's owner and former assistant to Preterius is described as such, with a very posh loft, fancy paintings and whatnot.
  • Master Race: Claudandus/Pascal believes that the only superior life forms are "the wonderful, mighty Felidae", and that others are "stupid and victims of their fate."
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Felicity means "great happiness".
    • Kong is, well, gigantic.
    • Claudandus is the Latin for "he who must be closed". Closing him — literally — was what Preterius was trying to do.
  • Moral Dissonance: Felicity says that "humans are the kindest creature there is" in the same space as "Claudandus was viciously tortured by humans." The break between these two realities is at the center of the book's plot. It also points out the irony of Felicity's views on humans considering it's heavily implied that she is blind due to humans experimenting on her in the past.
  • Motive Rant: Quite a lengthy one, in which Claudandus details how Humans Are Bastards, and why he created Felidae in order to overthrown humans. This is more prevalent in the book.
  • Mutants: Out of all the cats experimented on by Dr. Preterius, only Claudandus survived exposure to the doctor's healing glue. Preterius theorized that Claudandus is a mutant, with some unique genetic factor allowing his body to respond positively to the glue. Unfortunately, Preterius' tortuous attempts to crack the cat's genetic code and replicate the mutation only succeed in giving Claudandus a murderous hatred for humans.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name:
  • Necessarily Evil: Claudandus sees himself as this, stating that "I was forced to kill, Francis — I had no choice — to preserve the racial purity that this new Felidae required."
  • Nietzsche Wannabe: Claudandus. Just read his rant about how Humans Are Bastards. And while certainly acting as a Nietzsche Wannabe up to his final confrontation with Francis, the meaning behind his Final Speech is open for debate - was it a Heel Realization?
  • Nightmare Dreams: Francis has several of them, ranging from heavily symbolic to heavily disturbing.
  • Off with His Head!: How Felicity is found.
  • Passing the Torch: Claudandus's original intention towards Francis.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish": Francis guesses the password on Pascal's computer fairly easily — it's Preterius, the name of the scientist whose experiments set Claudandus/Pascal down the path of evil.
  • Playing with Syringes: The film features a lab that is pure horror, as a scientist has Sanity Slippage and begins doing experiments on stray cats, cutting the cats open on the examination table as they screech in agony, in order to test a Healing Factor-inducing paste. The Big Bad turns out to be Claudandus, a cat who survived the repeated vivisections — because he was the only test subject on whom the paste even worked.
  • Poetic Serial Killer: Claudandus' philosophy is rather nihilistic though, since it involves wiping his own race as it currently exist so a new stronger Master Race can rise from its ashes.
  • Pop-Star Composer: The score was done by Art of Noise member (and Academy Award winning composer) Anne Dudley.
  • Posthumous Character :
  • Psychic Dreams for Everyone:
    • The main characters are cats so spend a lot of time sleeping and tend to get cryptic, or occasionally downright weird, dreams that may or may not predict something (mostly they do) or give them odd ideas. Generally speaking the cats in the Felidae books believe in the power of dreams and Francis is no exception.
    • In the film and first book, it is revealed that Pascal purposefully gave Francis most of his dreams, presumably through subliminal suggestion. No explanation is given in later books.note 
  • Pun: Catacombs. Lampshaded by Bluebeard in the English dub of the film. "If that's a joke..."
  • Recycled IN SPACE!: It's a Film Noir WITH CATS!
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Francis (blue) and Bluebeard (red). They argue several times in the movie but are otherwise good friends with one another.
  • Religion of Evil: The cult of Claudandus, at first glance. It's rather innocuous in the end, but provides cover for Claudandus to run his breeding program because everyone believes he's dead.
  • Sanity Slippage:
    • Dr. Preterius. The descent from a sympathetic scientist who just wanted to achieve something, to a belligerent, insane man is more prevalent in the novel.
    • Claudandus/Pascal has a minor burst of insanity. See Villainous Breakdown.
  • Secret-Keeper :
    • Joker. Who is well aware about the truth behind Preterius and his experiments, that Claudandus is alive, responsible for the murders, the reasons behind 'em and his other identity. He even willing accepts dying at the teeth of Claudandus to keep the secret safe when Francis starts closing in on him.
    • In book two, this role is filled by Ambrosius, who is fully aware that the Wild Ones are the murderers. He even aids them by pretending to be the Black Knight and drawing suspicion away from them.
  • Sexo Phone: Used during Nhozemptekh's introduction (otherwise known as the "cat sex scene"), and is quite appropriate for her enigmatic, mysterious nature. A feline femme fatale very literally, considering most that encounter her don't live to tell the tale.
  • Sherlock Scan: Francis is a master of this. The crowner has to be when he finds Joker's corpse. One scan from afar tells him that he was not murdered, he was executed - and willingly walked into the jaws of his executioner, Claudandus.
  • Shout-Out: Gregor Mendel and his theories of genetics are a big part of the plot, to the point he's almost a Posthumous Character. (And he's absolutely terrifying in Francis' dreams.)
  • Sinister Minister: Joker, who is one of the leaders of the "Claudandus Sect". He's well-aware of what's really going on and he allows Claudandus to kill him to prevent the secret from being revealed.
  • Slasher Smile: One of the Hermanns' always carries this.
  • Super Breeding Program: Claudandus/Pascal plans to breed cats back to their original, ferocious form. He eliminates those that get in the ways of his plans.
  • Taxonomic Term Confusion: Pascal says "the genus Felidae" when referring to cats. "Felidae" is the name of the cat family; the cat genus is Felis.
  • Toilet Humor: Bluebeard cracks wise quite frequently about his bodily functions. When he marks territory (i.e. urinates on a house) he says, "Bluebeard was here," so the audience knows why he's doing it. This is done twice, just to make sure everyone gets it.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Felicity, a kind and blind cat, is killed just to obfuscate Francis and give him a personal reason to pursue the murderer.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Kong. He almost kills Francis at one point.
  • Tragic Villain: While his actions as a villain are unambiguously horrid and unjustifiable, absolutely nothing that turned Claudandus into a villain is actually his fault. His existence was initially every bit as benign as any cat's could be; he was a stray who was taken in by people who just so happened to be performing horrible experiments on cats just like him, and had to endure more of them than many of the other cats involved solely from the misfortune of surviving everything the scientists put him through. Preterius's own descent into madness killed all hope of him ever being treated any better by his caregivers, and by the time he was free he could feel nothing but animosity towards people because of everything he'd been through, driving him to murder Preterius and start his entire scheme to ethnically cleanse his own species. Even in his last moments, he implies that he doesn't like what he became and looked back more fondly on the point of his life when he was still a good individual.
  • Villainous Breakdown: When Francis says that not all humans are evil, the Pascal persona finally drops to reveal Claudandus in all his insanity. "'No! No! No!' Claudandus bellowed, his eyes burning with impotent rage and hate. 'There are no good people! They're all the same! Don't you understand that?! Animals are good people, and human beings are bad animals!'"
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Francis and Bluebeard. They're complete opposites: One an earthy combat veteran, one a cultured and literate intellectual. Bluebeard calls Francis a 'Klugscheißer' (smartass) right from the first meeting, and by the end of the mystery after he saves Bluebeard from the burning house, Francis enthusiastically adopts the nickname.
  • The Watson: Bluebeard becomes this in the movie, so that Francis can explain his discoveries to him instead of having to narrate his thoughts all the time.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye:
    • Felicity, who was killed off after only a few minutes of screentime.
    • Alcina, in yet another parallel to Felicity, also only shows up alive once.
    • Also showing up alive only once is Father Joker, though he allowed himself to be executed.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: In the movie, we never get to see what happens to any of the side characters (it's possible that Francis's "new friend" is Nhozemptekh, but the character design is slightly different so this is unlikely). The novel subverts this by giving information in the epilogue. It's at least implied in the movie that Bluebeard survived, though not confirmed.
  • Wicked Cultured: Pascal/Claudandus fits this to a T. Surrounded by fine art and classical music, uses a modern (for the time) computer, eats only the finest sweetmeats, friendly and helpful...and a mass murderer.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Arguably Claudandus. He only developed his insane plan after being tortured by Preterius. The "Destroyer of Worlds" part is much more present here than the "Woobie" part though. Also, this trope is more present in the book than in the movie.

"Bluebeard was here."