Felidae  - Brian
Director: Michael Schaack
If you were to take a classic “whodunit” and replace all the major players with cats, you’d probably end up with something like Felidae
. Hailing from our friends in Germany, Felidae
carries the distinction of being the most expensive German animated feature film ever produced costing in excess of 10 million marks (about $7,453,381.23). However, what distinguishes this film from any other featuring talking cats is the sheer amount of gore, profanity, and sexual activity. It baffles me, to this day, that you only had to be twelve in Germany to see this when it first came out.
The story starts out like any other, Francis, a black and gray tomcat, has just moved with his owner into a real “fixer-upper.” Before Francis even has a chance to get all settled, he witnesses a shocking discovery: the mutilated corpse of a neighborhood cat and, at the scene of the crime, a battle-damaged Manx named Bluebeard. Together, Francis and Bluebeard form an unlikely duo of cunning and brute force, respectively. Due to the very noir feel of the film, it’s very easy to forget that the principal cast of this film consists entirely of cats. Francis very easily fits the role of the archetypal private investigator with a nose for danger and the wit and cunning to roll with the best of them. Bluebeard, in contrast, fits the role of a hard-boiled detective who’s seen it all and knows what day it is. As our dynamic duo tracks down the murderer, the viewer is led down many different twists and turns and just like any detective story, until the final curtain is raised, everyone is a suspect.
Much like Watership Down
takes a story we’ve seen many times in the past and replaces the entire cast with talking animals. New themes such as cohabitation between humans and cats are explored, but the ultimate reason for doing this seems to be for the sheer purpose of drawing the viewer in. Though the cats in the story possess the ability to speak to one another, they are still, at their very core, ordinary cats.
As mentioned earlier, this film is certainly not meant for children. The violence is visceral and unapologetic. While on the hunt, Francis frequently finds the remains of the latest victims; admiring the handiwork of the killer with morbid fascination. The trail to the killer is littered with bodies: some cats have had their throats slit, others have been disemboweled, one cat was decapitated with her head put on display, and one (probably the most gruesome) was a pregnant cat with her chest cut open and her unborn babies spilled out onto the ground. In addition to the violent nature is the profanity. Pretty much every other word out of Bluebeard’s mouth is some kind of minor curse word. Frequent references to feline sexuality are also mentioned in the film as it has an inextricable connection to the murder victims.
Besides incredible animation, the best thing Felidae
has going for it is the story. Like a good detective story, you’re never really sure who did the deed until the suspect finally reveals himself. Following suit like many noirs, the murderer reveals himself in a moment of perceived triumph with a scene and monologue of nothing short of pure exposition. In the end, you never question that the villain is indeed a villain, but you certainly are left to wonder how he would have turned out if things in his life were different. The greatest strength of Felidae
is in its ability to evoke the feeling of the classic 50’s noir, while still introducing concepts and ideas that keep it fresh. A good story, all in all, but parents might want to wait a couple years before showing their children.