APRIL AND THE EXTRAORDINARY WORLD/ AVRIL ET LE MONDE TRUCQUE
France, 2015, 105 minutes, Colour.
Voices of: Marion Cotillard, Jean Rochefort, Olivier Gourmet, Marc- Andre Grondin, Bouli Lanners, Anne Coesens.
Directed by Christian Desmares, Frank Ekinci.
What’s in an expectation? With the title so pleasing with the word April and the emphasis on extraordinary, this seemed to be a continental version of those delightful Japanese animation films from Studio Ghibli. As the film opened, it was not like that. Not at all.
It is 1870, Napoleon III on the eve of a Franco- Prussian war, going to a scientist to find a serum that will empower soldiers to win the war. But the serum did not achieve that and Napoleon dies and history is forever changed – or at least goes into an alternate world. The animation for the film is a quite striking, dark, often sinister, grim alternate world. But, with a top voice cast led by Maion Cotillard and Jean Rochefort, it is highly dramatic.
In the alternate world, most of the famous scientists, including a very visible Albert Einstein, have disappeared from the ordinary world and have joined The Project, the finding of the serum that would transform all living things, continually renewing them. A fightback begins when the young girl, April, descendant of the family Franklin, all scientists, searches for her parents who have disappeared, recovers contact with her grandfather with the help of a young street boy, Julius.
The important thing is that the young girl, April, has the talent to make the serum – and is pursued by a variety of thugs employed by a couple who, perhaps unfortunately, but sinisterly, are lizards who resemble the mutant Ninja Turtles.
April finds that her father has been imprisoned, that her mother supports The Project, and that there is a plan to transform outerspace by a nuclear explosion that will spread the serum to the moon and other planets. But, human nature being what it is – or, perhaps, lizard nature being what it is, the chief lizard has other, more ambitious, more destructive ideas.
Which builds up some split-second timing to avert disaster, to defeat the lizard, to redeem the young man who has not been entirely honest, and to reassure grandfather, mother and father, that the serum can be created and profitably used if not found in exploitative hands.
Certainly not the sweet animation that might have been anticipated – rather, an adventurous as well is reflective piece of science fantasy.
1. A different kind of animation story? Plots and issues? visual style? An animation for an adult audience?
2. The impact of the visuals, dark, surreal, touches of the grotesque combined with those which were nice? The musical score?
3. The range of voices in the classic French cast?
4. An alternate world, inviting audience imagination, What if…?
5. 1870, Napoleon III, the Franco- Prussian war, the visit to the scientist, Franklin, the serum, Napoleon’s expectations, to win the war, the effect, hopes dashed, Napoleon shooting in the laboratory, his death – and a different future for the world?
6. A different Franco- Prussian War? An alternate timeline for the world, The Project, the disappearance of the scientists, no inventions, a cold and limited world without electricity and other conveniences? The narrative supplying the different dates, 19th century, 20th century, into the 21st century?
7. The professor, his character, the serum? His son and daughter-in-law and their continued investigations? His granddaughter, April, her talent with the serum? The disappearances, father and mother gone?
8. April, her character, the search? The years passing? The encounter with Julius, his background, friendliness, helping April in her quest?
9. The police Inspector, the force, his using Julius, the contact, information about the grandfather and about April? The police Inspector arriving, his being taken and imprisoned?
10. April finding her grandfather, with Julius, discovering Julius’ treachery?
11. The project, the visits, the couple in charge, their experiments, wanting the serum? The construction of the spacecraft? The aim, revivifying space, making planets liveable?
12. The plant, equipment, the workers, the guards and their weapons, the prison, the professor finding his son, the bars to their cell?
13. April, finding her mother, her mother converted to The Project, working for it?
14. April, using her wits, Julius helping, the closing down of the electricity, the grandfather and Paul escaping?
15. The chief lizard, his plan, domination, wanting the serum? April working, Julius and the serum, the container with water, the lizard taking it, drinking it, large, the fight, the revelation of his plan to destroy Earth?
16. The buildup to the final confrontation, the timing, the spacecraft, the serum and enlivening all the plants and growth?
17. The cat throughout the film, experience of the serum, the rat, killed and reviving? His being caught in the rocket, trying to change the elevation, final success? The explosion in space in the transformation? The destruction of the lizard?
18. Happy reunion for the whole family – and the cat?