les trois inventeurs screencap "The Three Inventors" Papercut Animation (1980)

Les Trois Inventeurs” (“The Three Inventors”) is a beautiful 1980 papercut animation film about a family of inventors that build amazing machines but are misunderstood by others. It’s the story of an encounter between the soaring joy of creativity and the destructive nature of fear.

In one scene, the father glides elegantly through the air in a hot air balloon, sitting in a bird-shaped basket and using a wing-like oar to navigate. When he lands, the local people, frightened by the strange contraption, hide in fear for a minute, and then they attack the balloon, harpooning it with pitchforks.

The film was directed and animated by Michel Ocelot, a French-born writer, designer, and director of animated films and television programs. Ocelot has also spent time living in Guinea and Los Angeles. In 1983, he had a French children’s television series called “La Princesse Insensible.” More recently, he directed a music video for the song “Earth Intruders,” off of Bjork’s 2007 album, Volta.

The film is in French, but any viewer will be able to understand the story arc. I asked my sister, who has a better grasp of the French language than I, to translate the ending. Here’s what the narrator says: “No, it’s not true. It didn’t truly happen. It couldn’t have happened. I assure you. You see? It’s film!”

[via The Heart of Papercuts]

Laura Cochrane

I’m an editor at MAKE and CRAFT. I like hiking, biking, and etymology.


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