I’m not sure how my daughter first discovered the French animated film Un Monstre à Paris. It could have been through DeviantArt, a favorite site of hers and home to some excellent fan art from the movie. Or it could have been through surfing YouTube and stumbling across this wonderful, catchy song from the soundtrack. All I know is that suddenly all I heard about was her desire to see Un Monstre à Paris and have the soundtrack for herself.
The only problem?
Though an English version of Un Monstre à Paris recently premiered in America at the New York International Children’s Film Festival, the movie itself is still only available as a French DVD and soundtrack.
Inspired by my daughter’s enthusiasm for this movie, and wanting to reward her hard work in her freshman French class, I decided to buck up and order the DVD from Amazon France (yes, it was more than I’ve ever paid for a DVD!). But THEN I learned that European DVDs are in fact not the same as American DVDs, so…I ended up buying an all region/all video DVD player from Amazon. And finally, I bought an import CD of the soundtrack.
Was it all worth it?
Absolument! (that’s “absolutely” in French)
Un Monstre à Paris is a light, stylish, sweet movie with an amazing soundtrack. Between my 2 years of high school French and my daughter’s current French studies, we were able to suss out much of the dialogue (there are no English subtitles in the French DVD), and although the script is not particularly deep, it is funny and swift.
I admit, the actual story line is not what I expected. For some reason, I thought it would borrow more from The Phantom of the Opera, but it takes turns between hints of not only that story, but also Beauty and the Beast and even a little of King Kong. The basic gyst of the story (in my own words) is this:
bumbling pals Raoul and Emile have a bit too much fun in an eccentric professor’s laboratory one night and accidentally turn a flea into a life-sized, operatic “monster” in 1910 Paris. The flea finds his way to Lucille, a singer in a local cabaret (and also a childhood friend of Raoul’s), who shows him compassion and gives him a name (Francouer) and a home. Meanwhile, the Parisian Prefet (or head of police) has his sights on both Lucille *and* finding the monster whom people claim is terrorizing the city.
Lucille and Francouer are voiced in Un Monstre à Paris by French model, actress, and singer Vanessa Paradis and the eccentric French musician Mathieu Chedid (known by his stage persona M).
Together they are divine in the film’s musical numbers, making the soundtrack – which is also filled with wonderful instrumentals – an absolute joy to listen to. [Note: the soundtrack itself has a gorgeous dedicated site that, although in French, is worth checking out!]
I’m sad to hear that early reviews of the English version of Un Monstre à Paris are not so positive. Most reviews express displeasure with the American voice counterparts and weak translation of the script. Still, I imagine our family will want to see it when it debuts as A Monster in Paris sometime later this year, if for nothing else than to compare the two versions.
For now, we’ll continue to enjoy the sweet spirit and gorgeous style of Un Monstre à Paris in its native French!
ps: I can’t write this post without including this video from YouTube. We love, love, love, love this song!