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Western Animation / The Old Lady and the Pigeons

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The Old Lady and the Pigeons (a.k.a: La Vieille Dame et les Pigeons) is a 1997 animated Short Film written and directed by Sylvain Chomet. It tells the surreal story of a starving gendarme who dresses up as a pigeon and tricks an old lady into feeding him.

The film was produced through the French company Les Armateurs and was Chomet's debut film. It won several awards including the Grand Prix at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival.


The Old Lady and the Pigeons provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Alcohol Hic: The gendarme hiccups after guzzling down several bottles of wine at Christmas.
  • Asshole Victim: The gendarme is not a very nice man and ends up much worse off than when the short starts.
  • Becoming the Mask: At the end, the gendarme seems to have become a pigeon mentally.
  • Bookends: Begins and ends with a gaggle of American tourists talking outside the Eiffel Tower.
  • Catapult Nightmare: The gendarme has one in which he tries to eat some of the food that the old lady throws on the ground, only for a group of man-sized pigeons wearing suits to approach him, hold him down, and peck him repeatedly on the chest.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The maid that the gendarme passes every day shows up at the end as the old lady's "cat".
  • Dream Sequence: The gendarme has one where he dreams he gets eaten by monstrous, human-sized pigeons wearing suits.
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  • Foreshadowing: At the Christmas dinner, the gendarme sees a picture of the old lady when she was younger, laying on a couch with several very fat cats.
  • Food Porn: The food the old lady cooks looks pretty delicious.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: One way to interperet the old woman pursuing the gendarme even after he shows her his human foot: she knew all along and was just humoring him to fatten him up easier.
  • Jerkass: The gendarme is very rude to the old lady even after she welcomes him into her home and cooks complicated dishes for him.
  • Miniature Senior Citizens: The old lady is so short her head is barely higher than the seat of a bench.
  • Mind Screw: It's that kind of movie and considering the creator's other works it's pretty understandable.
  • National Stereotypes: The film begins showcasing some photos taken by a family of obese, obnoxious American tourists.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Or she will come after you with shears and try to feed you to her cat!
  • No Name Given: None of the characters are named except some of the American tourists.
  • Oh, Crap!: The gendarme gets one when he sees the old woman sharpening her shears and realizes just what she intends to do with them...
  • Pink Elephants: While drunk, the gendarme hallucinates that the old woman has turned into a turkey.
  • Silence Is Golden: There's no dialogue spoken throughout most of the short. The gendarme is completely silent and the old woman only "speaks" in vague mumbles. Though this is averted by the American tourists who Book End it.
  • The Voiceless: The only characters that speak in the short are the American tourists. Everyone else is either silent or only "talks" in vague sighs and mumbles.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: The old lady doesn't have any issue with what she sees as either a) a giant pigeon or b) a man dressed up as a giant pigeon showing up where she lives. She just invites him in and offers him some slippers like any other guest. Of course, she may have known all along.
  • When Elders Attack: The old woman attacks the gendarme at the end with a pair of garden shears.