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Triplets of belleville

AKA Les Triplettes de Belleville or Belleville Rendez-vous. A 2003 French animated film by animator and writer Sylvain Chomet that, for all its quirky twists and turns, ultimately becomes an introspective character study rather than simply a piece of popular entertainment. Basically, a cartoon for adults. Also tied together by some truly fantastic jazz and period-inspired music by Benoît Charest.

Madame Souza lives with her recently orphaned grandson Champion, who appears understandably depressed. In an effort to cheer him up, she buys him a dog, Bruno, and (after discovering his love of cycling) a tricycle.

Twenty years later, Champion has become a ferocious cyclist under his grandmother's stern training regimen. Bruno has gotten enormously fat (except for his legs) and lives to eat and bark at the trains that pass perilously close to their ramshackle house.

Champion enters the Tour de France, but is kidnapped partway through by mysterious mob thugs. Madame Souza, with Bruno's help, follows them by truck, on foot, and by boat, winding up in the fanciful city of Belleville.

Here, she encounters the titular triplets, aged former Vaudeville stars now living out their days going bombing for frogs and playing trios on the newspaper, refrigerator, and vacuum cleaner.

Together, the motley crew must use their quick wits and bizarre skills to outfox the mob and rescue Champion.

By the way, it's (almost) silent.

Tropes used in The Triplets of Belleville include:

  • Animal Motifs: A few of the characters, like the bikers, mechanic, and the Triplets of Belleville, have striking similarities to particular animals.
    • But the mechanic most of all. He's short, fat, has large ears, normally appears in a kneeling position when operating the bicycle simulator from the inside (like in a hole) and emits something resembling a squeak every few seconds. And he's got a moustache.
  • Art Shift: After the opening 1930s-style TV broadcast.
  • Award Bait Song: "Belleville Rendez-vous".
  • Badass Grandma: Madame Souza is persistent enough to follow an ocean liner across the entire ocean in a foot-pedaled boat, at night, during a huge storm at sea, to the accompaniment of Mozart's Mass in C Minor - Kyrie.
    • She kicks over a car too.
  • Big Friendly Dog: Bruno.
  • Brick Joke: After discovering Champion's kidnapping, Madame Souza rents a pedal boat for one hour. We don't see the owner again until the end credits, when he's still standing there, looking out at the beach and checking his watch. This may be a Shout-Out to Airplane!.
  • Chase Scene: The film's climax - a classic car chase, complete with pursuers gradually being killed off, cars exploding at the slightest provocation, an Under the Truck Instant Convertible, an imperiled baby carriage, the Railroad Tracks of Doom and a Train Escape... truly Troperiffic. The fact that several of these are played with and subverted (and the fact it's ended by a tiny old lady kicking over a speeding car) saves it from Cliché Storm. It's also incredibly slow -- the heroes' escape vehicle is the bike simulator that moves at a visibly slow clip. Somehow, the cars that give chase don't ever catch up.
    • That is they do catch up, but because the bike simulator is very broad, it is impossible to overtake it by car. The only thing the Mafia goons could do was to drive behind it and shoot at the drivers, which is what they did.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Madame Souza's shoe's extended heel. Actually, just about every element introduced in the movie is one.
    • Including, of course, the titular triplets.
  • Conspicuous CG: Though the movie embodies the classic cel animation style, there are moments where one notices...well, conspicuous CG.
  • Crapsack World: Madame Souza's countryside home quickly gets swallowed up by an expanding, dreary Paris, and Belleville has either disgusting amounts of opulence or poverty--everyone is either obese or just skin and bones. And the less said about the food, the better.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: Champion is placed into bed at one point in this pose.
  • Determinator: Repeat: Madame Souza paddled all the way over to a whole different continent through a storm to rescue her grandson.
  • Eagle Land: Belleville is a satire of both America and Canada, but it's hard to miss the obese Statue of Liberty clutching a hamburger and the equally plump citizens. A tad hilarious; consider who gave Americans the Statue of Liberty, and the fact the French keep a smaller twin of her in Paris.
  • Empathy Pet: To an extent, Bruno.
  • Eyes Always Shut: The mafia Dons.
  • Fake American: "No money, no hamburgurs!"
  • The Family for the Whole Family: Zigzags throughout the movie. The mafia are pretty incompetent but are genuinely menacing at times, such as when the bookie shoots the cyclist.
  • Gratuitous Italian: The hilarious barbershop song. Also English - "no money, no burguer!" - and Portuguese in the madame Souza terrible song at the piano in the Triplets house.
  • Lazy Artist: Heavily averted: The film's sumptuous detail is a major reason for its critical acclaim.
  • Le Film Artistique: Oh, yeah.
  • Lull Destruction: Averted: Moments of quiet appear where they would in a live action film.
  • Meaningful Name: Champion.
  • Mime-and-Music-Only Cartoon: Except for the songs and a few snatches of dialogue, most notably the recurring line that bookends the film.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed
    • The opening sequence, "Belleville Rendez-vous", is a film from The Roaring Twenties, and features caricatures of classic stars such as Django Reinhardt and a topless Josephine Baker. The tap dancer who is eaten by his shoes is Fred Astaire. The joyful conductor is a caricature of French singer Charles Trenet.
    • And when the film breaks, RTF switches over to a tape of a performance of Bach on piano. The pianist is immediately identifiable as Glenn Gould.
    • Don't forget Charles de Gaulle, seen on the television set later in the film.
    • The accordion player getting gnats stuck in her teeth at the Tour de France is Yvette Horner (and according to an interview, that scene from the movie was pretty much Truth in Television).

  • Nonhumans Lack Attributes: Averted, Bruno has very visible testicles.
  • Police Are Useless: Police? What police? If it weren't for that one short newspaper article released by the police of Belleville, one might believe that police does not exist in that city, or even that universe.
  • Positive Discrimination: The female protagonists are resourceful, creative and generous. All male characters are either villains or weak and passive people.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: When separated from their bodyguards, the Mafia dons have actual baby cries dubbed in.
  • Show Within a Show: The opening short, "Belleville Rendez-vous," is an old-fashioned black-and-white scat song number and, at the end, apparently the entire movie was a movie being watched by a much older Champion.
  • Silence Is Golden: This film has a lively musical soundtrack but otherwise is essentially a silent film; there is almost no spoken dialogue.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: In the opening sequence, the audience consists entirely of tiny men and their enormous wives.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Ha ha ha! No, but seriously, what happened to that mechanic? He was knocked unconscious and stuffed into a chest. He was never seen again.
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