City of Lost Children - Careful Thoughts

  • Basic Plot
  • On Analysing the Story
  • Monsters
  • Exploration of Innocence
    Basic Plot

    Different people react differently upon seeing the movie. One possible reaction is to spin around uncontrollably, vomiting in all directions. However, a more common reaction is to wonder exactly what happened throughout the story. This film is Dick and Jane next to David Lynch, but it's still worthwhile to point out exactly how events have unfolded:

    Before the film starts, the professor is a lonely guy. He is a genius, but not very good with people skills (apparently). So he creates life.

    He makes a woman to be his wife, but she comes out very short, and not very loyal. He makes clones of himself to be brothers, but they fall asleep all the time, lack originality, and are meek. He wants intellectual companionship, so he makes a brain in a fish tank, but the brain has migraines and is not quite human. Finally, he creates a man almost enough to be a friend, but the man (Krank), cannot dream, and this drives him to the edge of sanity as he ages much more quickly than he should.

    Krank tries to kill the professor, but the professor fights back. Mademoiselle Bismuth (the very short woman) defends Krank -- she and Krank throw professor in the sea.

    He awakens with amnesia and a dislike of society. He becomes a hermit living in an underground cavern, roaming the city's waters for "treasure." He can't remember the life he left behind, but he retains a fear of Krank, who he vaguely remembers as trying to kill him.

    In the meantime, Krank, Bismuth, and the brothers strike an allience with the Cyclops. Krank needs children from whom he can steal dreams. The Cyclops kidnap children in exchange for "the third eye," the device which allows them to see in some kind of different way after they have revoked their gift of sight.

    The beginning of the film starts in a child (and Krank)'s dream-turned-nightmare. Irvin (the brain in a fish tank) bitterly tricks Krank into crying, then insults his fragile sanity.

    We are introducted to One. His boss is killed by a vagabond, and that night his adopted little brother Denree is kidnapped by the cyclops. Chasing Denree, One meets Miette, who is grudgingly working for the Cyclops (perhaps she pays them to not kidnap her or her young colleagues).

    One follows Miette to the shack of the siamese twins who run the junior theives' gang. He is caught, but spared since he is strong enough to carry a safe they'd like to rob. The group carries the safe to a pier, where One catches a glimpse of a Cyclops truck. He drops the safe into the water before they can retrieve the loot.

    Miette chases One, chiding him for attempting to rescue Denree in such a foolish way. She tells him she knows where the cyclops trucks go. She sympathizes with One, and agrees to help him get into the cyclops headquarters.

    Meanwhile, Irvin convinces one of the brothers to hook himself to the dream-catching machine by telling the brother he is the original. The dream recounts the horrors of the kidnappings and Krank's insanity. Irvin has the brother throw the dream (in a glass and metal cylinder) into the sea, as a kind of plea for help.

    Miette and One sneak onto a ship in the harbor containing the secret cyclops headquarters. They see the exchange of four children (including Denree) for the third eye mechanism. One is clumsy, and both he and Miette are caught. A greedy cyclops takes some jewels from Miette to sell to the siamese twins, also known as the Octopus. When he sells the jewels, he reveals that the cyclops plan to drown Miette and One off pier 24 at midnight.

    The Octopus decides to save One, since he is strong and stupid. They make a visit to their old friend Marcello, who is obviously a drug addict near the end. He was once in a circus with the Octopus, where he showed off his trained fleas. Now the Octopus tells him to kill the cyclops guards and save One; Miette can die.

    Back at the disused oil rig which serves as the home for Krank and his cohorts, the group attempts to ameliorate the childrens' feelings for Krank by having him dress as Santa and sing. The attempt fails miserably as Krank, even dressed as Santa, remains old, ugly, and obnoxiously out-of-tone.

    Back on land, Marcello does as he's told, using his trained fleas to inject some aggression serum into one of the cyclops, who then kills his fellow cyclops and apparently wonders off without guarding Miette and One any more. One is rescued, but Miette falls into the sea, still bound tightly in ropes, so she cannot swim. Luckily, the hermit treasure-hunter (the amnesiac professor) finds her and brings her to his underground cavern. She is revived, and has an odd conversation with the professor. He mentions a minefield tattooed (yes, that's how you spell it) on someone. Miette finds the safe One dropped into the sea, and takes more jewels from it. Finally, she looks through the periscope to see Denree being loaded onto a boat before she heads off to find One.

    Marcello takes some pity on the mourning One, and pays a prostitute to cheer him up. Unfortunately, One can only think of Miette. Fortunately, Miette shows up. With some help from her gang of theives, she saves One from being dragged off to the Octopus (One cannot rescue himself due to an extraordinary state of inebriation).

    The professor (slash underwater treasure-hunter) stumbles upon the message in a bottle from Irvin. He takes it to his cavern, where the dream is released and shows itself to him. His memory is restored, and he decides to go destroy the rig. The dream flies about the city frantically entering many peoples' heads. Miette is last one to see it, and she puts together the woman Bismuth with the missing children, along with the mines in her dream with the minefield the professor mentioned.

    The ship carrying Denree finally arrives at Krank's rig. Denree is clever and gains access to the rest of the rig, outside his cell. He sneaks around to find some tasty food, and stumbles upon Krank, who takes the opportunity to test the child's fear of him. Denree is not scared at all, along as he has something to eat. Krank decides that this child could be the one to give him good dreams at last. It's funny to watch Denree eat a candle.

    One and Miette wander about some tattoo-type parts of town, asking about the man with the minefield tattoo. They find him and retrieve the map.

    The Octopus orders Marcello killed, but her henchmen lets Marcello live. While the professor is making his way to the rig underwater, the octupus uses Marcello's fleas on One, causing him to begin strangling Miette. This crazy sequence of events saves Miette:

    As One is strangling Miette, a lone tear flies from her eyes into a cobweb, waking up a parakeet next to it. The parakeet awakens a dog, whose barking awakens a bum, who throws a bottle drunkenly toward the dog. The bottle startles a seagull, which releases a load onto a car's windshield. The car runs into a fire hydrant, which causes a miniature flood. The flood carries a pair of sewer rats into a strip club, which expels a group of not-quite-dressed "artiste's." An electrician working on a telephone pole is distracted, and cuts off the power in the area. The light in the lighthouse goes out with the power, causing a ship to hit the pier on which Miette, One, and the Octopus stand. One and Miette are thrown into the water, reviving One to sanity.

    In the meantime, Marcello's loyal flea finds his (her?) way back home, travelling on the backs of dogs. Marcello takes the chance to use his fleas agains the Octopus, saving Miette and One, who would otherwise be trapped between the wrecked pier and the crashed ship. Miette and One use their knowledge of the minefield to paddle by boat to the rig. They become separated and start to look for each other.

    On the rig, Bismuth notices someone else is on board. She sends the brothers to inspect. They find the professor and One. One just throws them out of the way, while the professor recruits them to help him fasten explosives throughout the rig. He explains that it is a mistake that must be erased. Bismuth recognizes Miette (from the Cyclops meeting) and decides to kill her. The professor does not approve, and shoots her first with a harpoon gun. Talking to Miette, he reveals that he came for the children.

    Just as Miette is about to re-unite with One, Bismuth tricks her into stepping over a trap door. She almost falls through, but One saves her, falling in her place. Miette, very upset at losing One, still retains her resolve to find Denree. She finds him attached to the dream machine, along with Krank.

    Irvin explains that she must hook herself up to the dream machine in order to safely bring Denree out of the machine. She joins the two in their dream, and offers a trade of herself for Denree, which Krank accepts. As the dream continues, Krank becomes younger and younger, while Miette ages very quickly. The pair dance awkwardly. Krank is reduced to a crying baby, much like one of his own victims in the dream machine. Miette has the baby-Krank attached to the dream machine (within the dream). This is the worst nightmare Krank could ever imagine. He is shocked awake, and stumbles catatonically forward.

    The professor accidently finds One unconscious in a large bird's nest on one of the supports of the rig. One is resuscitated, and searches out Miette, whom he delicately stirs out of the dream machine. The brothers, Irvin, Miette, One, and the captured children gather in two small boats to row away from the rig.

    The professor, who has distributed explosives throughout the rig, ties himself to a pillar of the structure. Laughing maniacally, he rants enthusiastically until he starts reading one of the research pages fluttering in the wind. He has a flash of epiphany, and begins screaming for his creations to rescue him. But it is too late; they do not return, and the rig explodes.


    On Analyzing the Story


    Exploration of Innocence

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    last updated 142.2003