The City of Lost Children

A child smiles delightedly in his toy-filled room as Santa emerges from the chimney-piece, but joy turns to terror as the bearded visitor is followed by more of the same; cut to a man screaming in a laboratory where, unable to dream himself, he has stolen the nightmare of a kidnapped orphan. The opening of another of Jeunet and Caro's forays into the fantastique is the perfect introduction to what's essentially a hugely inventive blend of dream, fairytale, and myth, and to a strange, sinister sea-girt world that functions according to its own crazy logic. After his infant brother is abducted by a gang of semi-robotic Cyclops, kindly strongman One (Ron Perlman) sets off on a search that will unite him with feisty nine-year-old orphan Miette (Judith Vittet) and lead him to the sea-rig laboratory inhabited by the evil Krank (Daniel Emilfork), his six cloned brothers, their diminutive 'mother', and Uncle Irvin, a sardonic brain floating in a fish tank. Extraordinary.

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