Our Love Affair with ‘Un Monstre à Paris’

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.

un monstre a paris movie poster

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).

Mathieu Chedid and Vanessa Paradis Un Mostre a Paris

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!

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  • SavannahB

    Love it! Now I’m off to youtube more of it!

    • Careful, it’s addicting! And infectious. 🙂 Our whole family hums these songs around the house now! This morning I heard the English version of the soundtrack for the first time and sadly, it’s not NEARLY as good. Vanessa Paradis remains as Lucille, but they put Sean Lennon in as the voice of Francouer and it’s…ugh. Just not good. I’ll happily stick to this version. 🙂

  • Suzanne Young

    This movie looks amazing!  It’s visually stunning, and if that one tune is any indication of the rest of the songs, I wouldn’t mind downloading a few songs for my iTunes collection.  Can you provide a rough translation of the song?  It’s catchy, but what are they singing about?

    While your initial outlay for the DVD and European player might have you gulping, I have to imagine it will fuel your daughter’s interest in all things French, and I bet her French improves vastly – all because of an amazing video!

    • The video I included here is very indicative of the whole soundtrack – very catchy, upbeat, fun. Unfortunately, even digital downloads from iTunes are limited to France, which is why I had to buy an imported CD. But it’s been so worth it!

      As far as a translation, the song in this video is talking about how mesmerizing the Paris river the Seine is to Lucille – how it seems to speak to her, put her under its spell, how romantic and mysterious it is. She says she doesn’t know why the river has such power over her, but it’s always been that way. She sings “La Seine et moi” several times, which is basically “the Seine and I.”

      And finally, I think you’re absolutely right about the all-region DVD player. My kids have already started thinking about what other foreign films they want to see, so I doubt this will be our last order from overseas! 🙂

  • Suzanne Young

    PS – I like the changes you’ve made to your site.  I’m still confused by Instagram though.  I have it on my phone, but not sure how to use it correctly (well/with impact. etc.) Where can I learn more about this?

    • Honestly, I use Instagram purely for fun. There’s a function in the app where you can search for friends from Facebook/Twitter on Instagram, and that’s pretty much who I follow on there. I don’t really use it to network or promote my blog, I just take random pictures (sometimes too many!) throughout the day and share them. I do have it attached to my Facebook and Twitter streams, so the photos go there, too. And I take a picture every day and date it as part of the #instagram366 challenge. But it’s one of the few “social media” tools I use purely for fun.

  • This makes me want to learn French. I’m loving the song (even though I can’t understand it) and the animation in the video. It is sad that the English version isn’t living up to the original. Hopefully they will make a dvd of the original with subtitles. 

    • Hi Tracie! YES, the French version with English subtitles would be absolutely ideal. I just don’t think anyone can remake the chemistry between Vanessa Paradis and Mathieu Chedid, who have worked together musically even before this movie. Also, if you love this song, then you would probably love the whole soundtrack. It’s fun, energetic, kind of flirty, and very “French” (not just in language).

  • Ash449

    I take french classes so I kind of get the song, but I had better get studying! I love this song and I went to see the English version when it came out, But I agree that the French version of the song is much, much better! 😀

    • I have always done so much better reading French than actually understanding it when spoken, so having the French subtitles on REALLY helped. The ideal would be for them to keep the French version as-is, but just add English subtitles. That, and make the music available for download in the US! Not everyone is as crazy as I am to have ordered the imported DVD and CD. 🙂