1941. France asleep in the nineteenth century, governed by steam and Napoleon V, where scientists vanish mysteriously. Avril (Marion Cotillard), a teenage girl, goes in search of her missing scientist parents.
In 1941, the world is radically different from the one we know from history books. Geopolitics has developed strangely: Napoleon V rules France and, for the last 70 years, scholars have been mysteriously disappearing, depriving mankind of their inventions. Without radio, television, electricity, aviation, and the combustion engine, the world is mired in outdated technology, dozing in the previous century's knowhow dominated by coal and steam. In this bizarre universe, Avril (Marion Cotillard), a teenage girl, Darwin (Philippe Katerine), her talking cat, Pops (Jean Rochefort), her grandfather, and Julius (Marc-André Grondin), a young scoundrel and police informer, go off in search of Avril's parents, two of the missing scientists. The quartet will face many dangers and mysteries in this strange new Rigged World. Written by
One of the smartest, most imaginative animations ever.
"Steampunk is ... a joyous fantasy of the past, allowing us to revel in a nostalgia for what never was. It is a literary playground for adventure, spectacle, drama, escapism and exploration. But most of all it is fun!" George Mann
April and the Extraordinary World is an animated French adventure for the whole family (I recommend about 8 years and older) reminiscent of the fantastic 'toons of Hayao Miyazaki (think of Howl's Moving Castle). Leading us through an alternate steampunk history of modern France, April (voice of Marion Cotillard) is a little girl whose scientist parents in 1941 were abducted by the "Empire" to advance the cause, in this case by creating an immortality drug.
With her charming talking cat(a product of the scientists' experiments), April spends her youth confronting malevolent forces like a driven policeman (Javert anyone?), a roguish boy, and nature itself. Not one moment of the 1 hr 45 min is wasted; each is crafted under the expert direction of Christian Desmares and Franck Ekinci for maximum adventure and humanity (for example, love may be blooming and Grandpa Pops is feistier than ever).
The graphics as well are outstanding in the steampunk visual style with the omnipresent steam and pipes, furtive surveillance rodents, bicycle-powered blimps, and suspended trolleys, among some of the creative expressions. Although great advances such as the use of electricity and oil have not been discovered, the above-mentioned steam objects awe April as she navigates this alternate universe of coal and wood.
Conservationists shouldn't despair, for there are numerous references to the need to use coal, for instance, responsiblyalready coughs are in the ambient sound. The suggestion that without the invention and use of atomic energy and fossil fuel, the world could have been stuck in an ecological disaster is an intriguingly benign take on modern energy.
The extraordinary April and the Extraordinary World is nothing if not an invitation for girls to follow their dreams and create as their talents demand. For all children it is a call to be bold and responsible as they enter the real modern world.
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