The French film industry has become well-known around the world for its innovation and story-telling. In fact, le septième art, i.e. cinema, is appreciated so much by audiences that more than 200 films are produced in France alone each year! That figure includes many animated films.
Not only does animation take audiences of all ages on infinite adventures, but it also provides an important medium to imagine what seems impossible, and discuss social and philosophical issues in a visual way. Moreover, watching movies in French with French subtitles is a great way to improve your knowledge of different French phrases and Francophone cultures.
Here are just 6 fantastic French animated movies you should watch. They are all available on DVD, and you can also rent or buy them via Allociné.
1. Kirikou et la sorcière (Kirikou and the Sorceress)
This brilliant 1998 film by Michel Ocelot is based on a West African myth. In a village, a brave and determined boy called Kirikou is born with the ability to speak. After asking his mother why there is very little water, his mother tells him about the evil sorceress, Karaba, who has dried up the village spring and taken all the men, except one. Immediately, Kirikou decides to save his village and along the way has many adventures.
The storytelling and animation are phenomenal, and the film has won 11 prizes worldwide. If you enjoy this film, you might also enjoy its two sequels: Kirikou et les bêtes sauvages (Kirikou and the Wild Beasts) and Kirikou et les hommes et les femmes (Kirikou and the Men and Women). Suitable for all.
2. Le tableau (The Painting)
In an unfinished painting, conflict arises between three different classes of people. The Toupins, who are completely painted, assume power in the château and send the Pafinis, who are missing some colours, to the garden. The Reufs, who are sketches, are considered inferior and are banished to the forest. Ramo, Lola and Plume embark on a quest to find the painter and ask him to finish the work so that order can be restored.
This is a wonderful adventure film from 2011. The director Jean-François Laguionie, who designed all the characters, drew inspiration from the art styles of many French painters, including Henri Matisse, Pierre Bonnard and André Derain. Suitable for audiences from 6 upwards.
3. Une vie de chat (A Cat in Paris)
Dino the cat lives a double life. By day, he lives with Zoé, a girl who has stopped speaking after the murder of her father, and her mother Jeanne, who is a police officer looking for her husband’s murderer, Victor Costa. By night, Dino aids the kind burglar Nico with his jewelry raids. One morning, Dino brings Zoé a very valuable bracelet. Curious to find out where Dino got it, Zoé follows him one night, and discovers that her nanny is a member of Victor Costa’s gang.
Directed by Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol, this great film from 2010 weaves a web of intrigue set against the iconic backdrop of Paris, and the jazzy score really compliments the animation style. Suitable for older children and adults.
4. Ernest et Célestine (Ernest and Célestine)
In a world where mice live underground and bears live overground, Célestine is a young mouse who questions why there is so much fear and hatred of bears. Every night, she and other children collect teeth from under the bears’ pillows so that dentists can use them to make new teeth for mice. After a chaotic incident, Célestine falls asleep in a dustbin, where the poor street musican, Ernest the bear, finds her. So begins their friendship, which leads to them both being rejected from their respective communities.
A fantastic tale about the power of friendship, this brilliant animated movie from 2012, directed by Benjamin Renner, Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar, tackles discrimination and xenophobia in an accessible way for children and adults alike. Suitable for all.
5. Le chat du rabbin (The Rabbi’s Cat)
Adapted from the comic book of the same name, this intriguing film about tolerance follows Sfar, a rabbi who lives with his daughter Zlabya in Algeria in the 1920s. One day, his mischievous cat swallows his parrot, and begins to speak. Sfar wants to take the cat away, but the cat wants to stay with Zlabya, whom he loves, and convert to Judaism, so Sfar teaches the cat the law of the Mosque in order to prepare for his bar mitzvah.
Directed by Joann Sfar and Antoine Delesvaux, this humorous and intelligent film from 2011 takes audiences across Africa and discusses many important subjects, such as colonisation and different religions. Suitable for older children and adults.
6. Tout en haut du monde (Long Way North)
Sacha, a young Russian aristocrat, has always been fascinated by her grandfather, Oloukine, and his adventurous life. He is an explorer who attempts to sail to the North Pole, but unfortunately goes missing on his last expedition. Determined to find his ship, the Davaï, Sacha sets sail in his footsteps to le Grand Nord (the North Pole).
This amazing adventure film from 2015 is set in 1882, and was animated almost entirely in France under the direction of Rémi Chayé . Suitable for audiences from 6 upwards.
This is just a short selection of some fantastic French animated movies. Have you watched any others? Leave a comment below with any recommendations!
Sarah Dale, FrenchCrazy Contributor
After discovering a library book of 1000 French words, aged 7, Sarah has not stopped immersing herself in la langue de Molière and other wonderful languages.
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