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The City of Lost Children (La Cité des Enfants Perdus) (1997)



Average Rating: 7/10
Reviews Counted: 51
Fresh: 40 | Rotten: 11

Not all of its many intriguing ideas are developed, but The City of Lost Children is an engrossing, disturbing, profoundly memorable experience.


Average Rating: 6.9/10
Critic Reviews: 16
Fresh: 11 | Rotten: 5

Not all of its many intriguing ideas are developed, but The City of Lost Children is an engrossing, disturbing, profoundly memorable experience.



liked it
Average Rating: 4/5
User Ratings: 64,842

My Rating

Movie Info

This visually inventive French sci-fi/fantasy tale began winning a cult following practically from the moment it was released. Krank (Daniel Emilfork) is a foul, monstrous creature who lords over the inhabitants of a small island; Krank's emotional being is every bit as ugly as his physical personage, largely because he does not have the ability to dream. However, he has developed a machine that can drain the dreams of others from their heads, and he devotes himself to kidnapping children from a

Oct 19, 1999

Sony Pictures Classics - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (51) | Top Critics (16) | Fresh (40) | Rotten (11) | DVD (6)

Jeunet and Caro have distinctive signatures like nobody else's.

November 20, 2013 Full Review Source: New Yorker
New Yorker
Top Critic IconTop Critic

On visual terms alone, The City of Lost Children is something of a masterpiece, using state-of-the-art physical, optical and digital special effects to stretch cinematic boundaries.

November 20, 2013 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Essentially, The City of Lost Children is a macabre fairy tale, and while its tentacled comic-book plot and freak-show cast narrow its appeal -- this isn't a work of any allegorical depth -- Caro and Jeunet have pulled off a cinematic delight.

November 20, 2013 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The City of Lost Children gets so caught up in its own weirdness that it all but shuts out the viewer.

November 20, 2013 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An empty triumph of overkill set design and weirdo casting.

November 20, 2013 Full Review Source: New York Daily News
New York Daily News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Set in a wondrously seedy waterfront world populated with runaway children and grotesque, sinister adults, it glistens with dense fantasies, technological feats that make the catch-phrase "state of the art" seem antique.

December 7, 2012 Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The production values are extraordinary.

November 20, 2013 Full Review Source: Baltimore Sun
Baltimore Sun

The City of Lost Children showcases dazzling art direction that takes cinematic expressionism to new heights.

November 20, 2013 Full Review Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

One of the most fantastic (in the literal sense) films to have emerged from Europe in the past 50 years; a masterpiece of dark invention.

November 20, 2013 Full Review Source: Film4

The look of The City of Lost Children is worthy of a dropped jaw or three.

November 20, 2013 Full Review Source: Spokesman-Review (Washington)
Spokesman-Review (Washington)

For those who thought films could do nothing new, prepare to be surprised.

November 20, 2013 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

This delirious film is overflowing with energy and effects, but it lacks the heart and soul that would have made it important as well as impressive.

December 7, 2012 Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor
Christian Science Monitor

Directors Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro have created a genuine phantasmagoria, and each of the film's stunning set pieces is more wildly imaginative than the last.

December 7, 2012 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

The City Of Lost Children is as great a film as you thought Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was when you were five years old.

December 7, 2012 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Bizarre, beautiful French sci-fi with creepy images, themes.

February 1, 2011 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

A visually stunning and intensely bizarre fairy tale.

August 21, 2003
Kansas City Star

A freakish visual delight

August 15, 2003
Lawrence Journal-World

Audience Reviews for The City of Lost Children (La Cité des Enfants Perdus)

02/01/2011 (DVD)

A very strange but interesting watch. The performances are outstanding by both adults and children and what a weirdly but fantastic world. It was like a silver-screen flick with updated visual effects which made this film feel unusual and different. Wow.

The setting is art, I mean the ideas and the artistry compliments the story giving it depth and darkness. What had me drawn was the background, it was very darkly, futuristic for its time and Gothic yet the people were from the 1950's so it seemed, very cool indeed. It's probably not everyone's cup of tea but it's definitely the type of tea that has an unusual blend that one learns to enjoy.

The special effects were not overly done but it just had the right amount for taste and the clones just look so real, like they were real individuals rather than camera tricks, just so cool. It's definitely a strange one in my opinion but no doubt a watchable feature. I did notice that "Hell Boy" speaks in tongues? Did not know that.
January 16, 2011

Super Reviewer

This was strange. It's sort of like a fairy tale. The story sounded really good. But I felt okay (and sometimes bored) while watching this.
November 7, 2010
Dead Angel

Super Reviewer

"We're really starting to get attached."

Some parts of The City of Lost Children worked better for me than others, but it's undeniable that it's a wildly creative and inventive movie from beginning to end. The overall look of the film is unique, you never quite can guess what weird quirk the story or characters are going to show you next, and you can just tell that a lot of imagination and passion went into this. That fact helped make up for the times when I lost interest in the story a bit. Visually, it's excellent. Artistically, there are a lot of great ideas, they just don't all come together well.

I don't want to spoil the plot, but it involves missing children, a scientist who can't dream, a army of blind (well, not quite) men, a kind-hearted strongman, orphans, and a hateful set of Siamese twins. Mostly though, it's about the desire for family. The relationship between the two main characters, Miette and One, is quite touching, but there's also humor and action to be found.

As I said, this movie is kind of all over the place, and some aspects work better than others. Still, I'd recommend it be seen just because of how genuinely different it is. Take a dark adult fairy tale/fantasy movie like Pan's Labyrinth (though, not as good) and add in a bleak dsytopian setting and some sci-fi, and you've got a good idea of what The City of Lost Children is like. If that sounds interesting to you, you owe it to yourself to give it a try, despite its flaws.
October 5, 2010

Super Reviewer

    1. Miette: When you're born in the gutter you end up in the port.
    – Submitted by Hugo A (17 months ago)
View all quotes (1)

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Foreign Titles

  • Die Stadt der verlorenen Kinder (DE)
  • The City of Lost Children (La cite des enfants perdus) (UK)
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