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It Takes a ‘Monster’ to Illustrate Paris’ Beauty

22 Feb, 2013 By: Ashley Ratcliff

Not only is Paris an ideal setting for a love story. It also makes a great locale for an animated tale starring a giant singing insect, said A Monster in Paris writer-director Bibo Bergeron.

“It might be a trite to say [this], but Paris is probably the most romantic, picturesque and inspirational city I know,” he said. “And it happens to be my hometown. When I first think of the theme and the story of the film, I was attracted by the period 1900 to 1910 and Paris in the same time, because it was a time of changes in so many levels. Revolution was in many domains like science, politics, art, music, industry, entertainment, cinema, etc. It gave me the opportunity for comedy and to create characters around that.”

A Monster in Paris follows shy movie projectionist Emile and colorful inventor Raoul as they find themselves on the hunt for a monster terrorizing citizens. They join forces with Lucille, the big-hearted chanteuse of The Rare Bird cabaret, an eccentric scientist and his cantankerous monkey to save the monster — Francoeur, an oversized but harmless, musically inclined flea — from the city’s ruthlessly ambitious police chief.

Shout! Factory and EuropaCorp April 16 (order date March 19) unveil A Monster in Paris as a 3D Blu-ray combo pack ($24.97) and DVD ($14.97).

Voice talents include French singer Vanessa Paradis (Lucille), singer-songwriter Sean Lennon (Francoeur’s singing voice), Matthieu Chedid (Francoeur), Catherine O’Hara (Madame Carlotta), Adam Goldberg (Raoul), Bob Balaban (Pâté), Danny Huston (Préfet Maynott) and Jay Harrington (Emile).

Bergeron envisioned renowned French actress, model and singer Paradis as the voice of Lucille when he was writing the screenplay for the film.

“When I laid down the first words about the description of Lucille’s traits and personality, only one image came to my mind: Vanessa Paradis,” he said. “I needed not only a good actress, but a good singer, too. And a real personality. Vanessa is a French icon but with an original and intelligent career. She is very special. Vanessa inspired me a lot for the creation of Lucille. And on top of that, she has a unique voice, which is perfect for animation.”

The character of Francoeur (meaning “honest heart”), the giant flea, was mainly based on Chedid (a.k.a. M), who lends his speaking voice to the role and composed all the songs in A Monster in Paris.

“Some of his traits can be found in Francoeur; [he] is multitalented, big-hearted, curious, a poet, a sweet man and such a fantastic guitar player — qualities shared with Sean Lennon,” Bergeron said.

The film was an international success and was praised by critics for its artistic use of 3D technology.

Rodolphe Chabrier and his team at Mac Guff, a European-based digital visual effects design studio, handled the 3D component of A Monster in Paris “beautifully,” Bergeron said.

“We talked a lot about what kind of 3D I wanted for this film,” he said. “Since it’s character driven, I didn't want to have a too showy 3D effect during acting scenes, and for the rest, I wanted to protect the handmade painterly aspect of the look, the theatrical sense of it. The film should be like a play, a pop-up book, so I wanted something subtle but grand when it was to show the beauty of Paris, and with more depth when we get into action sequences.

“I like 3D when you actually forget about it while watching the film,” Bergeron added. “I am not into the flashy one, just for the sake of it.

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