First saw this one probably sometime around 1997 on DVD, after seeing a beautifully compelling trailer for the movie on another DVD that I had rented. One of those movies that I really wish I had had a chance to see in the theater. I love a movie where the filmmakers are able to create a world completely outside of time and place, not really fantasy, not really science fiction, but some sort of alternate reality where the laws of nature are completely at the whim of the creator. Sweet, creepy, unsettling, odd, funny and sometimes a little goofy, this movie weaves a web around the viewers brain and speaks to your subconscious in the language of dreams. Ron Perlman plays a man-child circus strongman who’s young companion is stolen away by a mad scientist. The scientist, Krank, is unable to dream, and has built a device where he can steal the dreams from children he has kidnapped (the movie makes no mention of what happens to the children afterwards, which is kind of creepy in its own way), and the rubber-faced Dominique Pinon (a Jeunet regular) has multiple roles both as a crowd of clones that live with the scientist, and the ‘original’ on which they were based, who pops up later in the film. There’s also a whole cast of bizarre side characters including a siamese twin schoolmistress/fagin who runs a gang of pee-wee break in artists, an opium addicted circus flea trainer who puts his fleas to diabolical use, a cult of self mutilated blind beggars who wear mechanical ‘seeing devices’ who act as kidnappers for the scientist. A chance to see what the talented director of 'Amelie’ was up to in his earlier years (along with another one you might enjoy, 'Delicatessen’)
wrote this on the Netflix review back in '03, probably a repeat viewing to introduce it to my son.
More imagination and stunning visual imagery than you will find in 20 hollywood movies. If you liked Amelie, check this one out.