The Triplets of Belleville (Triplettes de Belleville, Les) (2003) (NTSC)

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Released 24-Nov-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Menu Audio
Featurette-Making Of
Featurette-The Cartoon According To Sylvain Chomet
Audio Commentary-3 Scenes
Music Video-'Belleville Rendez-vous'
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 80:55
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,4 Directed By Sylvain Chomet
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Béatrice Bonifassi
Lina Boudreault
Michèle Caucheteux
Jean-Claude Donda
Mari-Lou Gauthier
Charles Linton
Michel Robin
Monica Viegas
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music Benoît Charest
Mathieu Chedid
Dominique Brune


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, right at the end!

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    As I watched the Academy Awards earlier this year, I had heard of most of the nominated films, however, there was one which stood out in my mind as something I had not come across or read about. That was this film by Sylvain Chomet, Les Triplettes de Belleville or The Triplets of Belleville (US Title) or Belleville Rendez-vous (UK Title). I do not particularly recall it getting a theatrical release here in Australia but it may have done. As someone who is interested in animation generally and always willing to give something different a go, I was keen to review this film. The film was nominated for two Oscars for Best Animated Feature and Best Song (for the catchy Belleville Rendez-vous).

    This film is set in a slightly off-kilter animated version of the world, where the characters, happenings and other features are not quite normal. Virtually every frame hides some little joke or interesting visual feature which add together to produce the strange world of this film. Examples include an old lady catching frogs for dinner using a stool, net, umbrella and hand grenade and a dog being used as a spare tyre. The story follows a young boy, Champion and his elderly Grandmother, Madame Souza who starts out as a chubby and sad boy being brought up by his grandmother, presumably after the death of his parents. She tries to cheer him up by getting him a pet dog, Bruno. This helps but it's not until she realises his interest in bicycles that she really sees his talents come out. As they grow older Bruno gets fat, Champion becomes obsessed with cycling and Madame Souza becomes his greatest fan and his coach. Champion lives for cycling and the Tour De France. During the race his Grandmother's support vehicle is sabotaged and he is kidnapped along with two other cyclists. They are taken across the sea to Belleville, a land of consumerism and greed. Madame Souza sets out in pursuit and once she arrives she gets assistance from three old ladies, the Triplets of the title, who used to be a famous singing group. We see what is made to look like old footage of them at the start of the film.

    The animation is quite remarkable and is technically a mixture of 2D hand-drawn animation and 3D CGI, although the director, Sylvain Chomet has gone to some length to make the CGI fit in with the rest of the animation. There is virtually no dialogue - only a few lines in the entire film - but the story line is very strong and there is little difficulty in following the plot. Some people will find this movie bizarre and may not like it, but for those who are interested in cinema which is different, interesting and challenging, this is well worth a look. It should be noted that this is not really for young children as it does feature some violence, smoking and nudity.

    Strange and yet strangely enthralling.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is excellent, however it is in NTSC so ensure your system can play NTSC before purchasing. This is one of the few dual coded Region 1 & Region 4 releases I have seen.

    The feature is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced which is close to the original aspect ratio of 1.66:1. I would guess they have made it 1.78:1 on the disc so that it can be 16x9 enhanced. There is a warning at the beginning of the film that this film 'has been formatted to fit your screen' 

    The picture was clear and sharp throughout, with no evidence of low level noise. The shadow detail was excellent which really helps in this film, which is quite dark.

    The colour was excellent, well saturated with no colour artefacts.

    There were no noticeable artefacts of any kind.

    There are subtitles in English and Spanish which translate the very few lines of dialogue. The English subtitles were clear and easy to read.

    There is no layer change as this is a single layer disc.
    

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio quality is very good but I was disappointed that there was no original French track, only English & Spanish. I realise that the amount of dialogue is very small, however, its the principle of the thing. I would have much preferred the original French for all dialogue.

    This DVD contains two audio options, an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 Kb/s and a Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 Kb/s.

    As mentioned above there was precious little dialogue in this film.

    The score of this film by Benoit Charest is a wonderful mixture of music, sound effects and strange instruments such as a vacuum cleaner, fridge and newspaper.

    The surround speakers added regular directional effects and atmosphere to the music. The soundtrack is surprisingly immersive.

    The subwoofer was used as required but this film did not contain too much LFE activity other than the occasional explosion.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menu included stills from the film, some cool music and was clear and easy to use.

Making of (15:52)

    Quite a good making of which includes interviews with the director (in English), composer (in French with subtitles) and various animators and the art director. They discuss the techniques used and some of the odd musical instruments. Worth watching.

The Cartoon According to Sylvain Chomet (5:23)

    The director discusses animation, his approach and demonstrates some of his techniques. Would definitely be of interest to budding animators.

Music Video 'Belleville Rendez-vous' (3:26)

    A music video for the Oscar nominated song featuring some bloke called 'M' who has hair like Eddie Munster. Other than that it's not too bad, and the song is very good. At the end of the music video a 0:51 second advertisement for the soundtrack plays automatically.

Theatrical Trailer (2:16)

    Presented with 5.1 sound and 16x9 enhanced, this trailer is an excellent introduction to the film.

3 scenes with Audio Commentary by the Director and Composer

    Now, these are a bit of a challenge to find. They are on a second menu of featurettes which can be accessed using an arrow at the bottom of the first menu of featurettes. The difficulty is that the arrow used is the one usually used to indicate returning to the main menu. The three scenes are ones from the movie that have had commentary added which is quite interesting. It is actually in French but there are subtitles. The scenes are;

DVD-ROM

    Placing this disc in your DVD-ROM drive brings you to a menu, which allows you to access various websites and competitions or play the film. Strangely when I chose the play the film option I got an error and had to play the film using different software.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This disc is the same as the Region 1 release. However, there are two releases in Europe which are worth considering especially if you want a PAL transfer. The Region 0 Tartan version of this disc includes in addition to the Region 4 release;

    The Region 2 French version of this disc includes most of the above feature except DTS, however the extra features are all in French without subtitles.

    On the basis of this, unless you speak French, the Region 0 Tartan UK release is the one to choose, although there is certainly nothing wrong with the local release as long as you can play NTSC discs.

Summary

    A strange, amusing, off-kilter and fascinating animated feature.

    The video quality is excellent but is in NTSC.

    The audio quality is very good but unfortunately not in the original French.

    The disc has a selection of extras which are reasonable but nothing spectacular.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Monday, November 01, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Theatrical release - flixyflox
re theatrical release - Mr Gimlet (bio-hazard)
Cinema release - Shane C (read my bio, you will)
French limited edition - Anonymous
audio on Tartan releases - Anonymous