Directed by: Michael Schaack.
Running time: 82 min.
Felidae is a fascinating 1994 German Adult animation based off of a 1989 novel and series of the same name by Akif Pirinçci. It is about a house cat named Francis who recently moves into a new neighborhood and gets caught up in investigating the murders of other felines.
This is not the kind of animated feature that you would stick the kiddies in front of unless they have a great deal of maturity to understand graphic (violent) imagery. This is a story that takes talking animals to a whole different, nitty-gritty level.
The first thing to note is the differences between the original German voice acting and the English dub later developed. You can tell right off when doing a comparison between the two, that the voice acting and the lines is definitely better in the German one, the voice actors matching their characters personalities quite well, with Ulrich Tukar as the voice of Francis and Mario Adorf as Blaubart. The English version cleaned up a lot of the language which actually felt part in setting the tone, particularly of Blaubart, and did have some noticeable differences to wording outside of that which was not to the film’s advantage.
So like with anything else that is done in a language different from your own, if your English, stick to the subtitled version if you want the full effect of the film.
The animation was a rather fascinating mix of the standard, though good, quality of animation during that period, but then you get these moments where it takes a step above itself, particularly in Francis’ dream sequences, and one in particular whose contents won’t be given away, but its style works well with the disturbing and potent imagery you’re not likely to forget.
There is also a sense of environment with this, an idea of the sort of old run down once lofty urban district which is established through the movements of the cats, done particularly well through a really well animated and detailed chase scene between Francis and the cult followers.
The story itself is another highlight, appropriate given the popularity of the books, the narrative flows from one sequence to another well enough, though there are moments that do feel a little rushed, it does weave its mystery in a very engaging way with equally engaging characters, Blaubart being a nice humorously crass counterpoint when it gets a little too heavy at the right times. It actually reads almost like a film noir, with some of the tropes of the genre, but not dominantly so.
One of the things going against it is that there are certain things that do make it dated, and a product of its times, such as a scene or two of less than PC use of homosexuality in a negative connotation, particularly exemplified in the scene between Kong and his crew and Francis and Blaubart in the first half, but that is very brief thankfully, and doesn’t impact with the rest of the film, so it can be skipped.
The other negative perhaps is that while the climatic ending was really well done, the “bad humans and there corruption” message did feel a little forced here, almost shoe horned in with those last words of the antagonist, and then Francis before he passes out. It felt already established and stated by the antagonist’s backstory already, but then again, it is a product of its time, and it didn’t take away from the overall enjoyment of the film.
This was a great film that has a really compelling narrative and tone that sucks you in, a great set of characters in Francis and Blaubart, great animation, particularly in the dream sequences, and a gripping action-filled ending, if a little preachy here and there. Definitely a recommended watch for those who enjoy a good horror/mystery, are not squeamish, and like good quality adult animation.
Felidae Trailer (sound is not the best quality but its the best of the lot): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXytNduYSj0
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