Sunday, March 27, 2005

Triplets of Belleville as Metaphor for Franco-American Relations?

I viewed the 2003 French animated film The Triplets of Belleville (Les Triplettes de Belleville) a few weeks ago, and I observed themes that I didn't focus on as much during my first viewing of the film, when I was primarily captivated with the animators' use of caricature.

During the second viewing however, I took more note of the meaning behind the exaggeration: the uninvited development in the French countryside where main character Madame Souza and her biker son live, the enormous skyscrapers of Belleville and the gargantuan stomachs of its citizens as metaphors of the excesses of America, and the symbolism of French bikers being held in captivity and forced to "entertain" American business and mob men. Is this film a critique of an uninvited American influence on France?

I looked on the Internet Movie Database to see if anyone had any similar interpretations. One man interpreted the film as a critique of how American media is run, with the three kidnapped bikers representative of the way in which American business holds hostage the big three television networks. Someone else saw the cavernous Belleville as an amalgamation of New York, Montreal, and Paris, which could represent ironically the idea of New York as headquarters of a supposed "international community."

Although the brilliance of the animation in Triplets of Belleville must be acknowledged, especially since the use of exaggeration serves to communicate significances to the audience in lieu of actual dialogue, I think the animation technique has been isolated as the main appeal of the film to the detriment of the complex themes about Franco-American relations that Triplets offers up.

Type II Diabetes Alert: Exaggeratedly obese citizens of Belleville.

As a viewer, and more specifically a viewer who has thought a lot about Franco-American relations, I am clearly approaching the film with a certain set of experiences that work to construct themes relevant to me, as every viewer does. Still, I find Triplets of Belleville will endure as a quality piece of film because its themes are subtly imparted but deeply understood.

1 comment:

Steph said...

have you seen the DVD's special features w/ commentary from the creator? it's really interesting and talks about some of the themes he had in mind. in addition to the political messages of the movie, i think that it can stand alone as a touching story of love and perseverance.