French animation: a hidden treasure that will conquer your heart


You’ve probably grown up watching Walt Disney animated films, but there’s a whole world to explore in the universe of animated cartoons. For example, do you know French animation? If your answer is no, it’s a good time to expand your knowledge and immerse yourself in the world of French animated film.

France holds the title of the cradle of cinema, and as such, cannot be left behind in the area of animation. Therefore, over the years it has offered us French animated works that have become cult classics.

If you are interested in learning more about French animation, stay here! We’ll talk about the most relevant aspects of the French animation style and we’ll also show you some examples of French animation that you can’t miss.

Sit back in your most comfortable chair and let’s get started!

Origins of French animation

When you hear about animated films or series, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? disney, Dragon Ball or maybe cartoons like Bugs Bunny or SpongeBob?

Well, this happens because the animation field is mostly dominated by American productions such as Walt Disney, Pixar, Warner Bros, and on the other hand, Japanese anime.

However, did you know thatthe first animated short film was an animation in France by a French inventor? It is the short film Poor Pierrot! (1892) by Émile Reynaud, who invented the praxinoscope: a 12-image animation system and films of approximately 500 to 600 images.

Despite Reynaud’s success in the history of animation, it would take some time for his invention to be adapted to the French animated film industry.

director de animación francés

Source: Poor Pierrot

Émile Cohl, the first French animation director

France is the cradle of cinema, not only for being the birthplace of the Lumiere brothers, who captured the first moving images, but also for what French animated films have contributed.

In addition to having the first animated cartoon, France also boasts being home to the first animation director, Émile Cohl.

Cohl succeeded in providing autonomous movement to drawn characters. He thus positioned himself as the director of the first animated cartoon projected in a modern cinema, Fantasmagorie (1908), and perhaps one of the first French animated films for children.

Although basic cells were not yet used to draw the backgrounds all at once, Fantasmagorie was a pioneering work in French and world animation. This meant for Cohl a success that led him to make more than sixty works of French animation for the Gaumont label.

French animation through the years

Considering the role France has played in the origin of the film and animation industry, it is easy to glimpse the historical commitment of the French animation industry.

For example, decades after Cohl’s success, Alexander Alexeïeff became the most relevant French animation figure. For, together with his wife Claire Parker, he developed the animation technique known as ‘needle screen’.

Thanks to this French animation style technique, they would come to work with Orson Welles, who would ask them to use the technique in the prologue scene of The Trial (1962).

Other figures who contributed to the development of French animation were Jean Image with Bonjour Paris! (1953) and Jeannot, l’intrepide (1950), or Paul Grimault, with La bergère et le ramoneur (1952), showing us, through the thematic and stylistic characteristics of their films, what French animation is like.

series de animación francesa

Source:La bergère et le ramoneur

Comics and French animation

what does comics have to do with French animation? As with American comics and Japanese manga,French comic book characters took their big step into the world of animation.

In the 1970s, characters such as Asterix and Obelix were brought to life on the television and movie screen, another breakthrough for the growing French animation industry.

In addition, from the 1950s onwards, France began to work with Belgium in the production of French animated series. Thus, in 1959, the first animated cartoon series of Tintin, the popular character created by Hergé, premiered on television.

animación en francia

Source: Tintin the animated series

Must-see classics in French animation

Due to Disney’s growth and animation principles, French animation has been part of a sector of animation that has gone unnoticed internationally.

But this does not mean that French animated works and French children’s films have been left behind.

Unlike Disney, French animated cinema does not direct or limit itself to French animated films for children, and has offered a number of titles that because of their uniqueness and French animation style have become must-see classics.

do you want to know them? Take note and add them to your list of must-see French animated films.

The Wild Planet (1973)

This 1973 French animation is probably the most important of them all. The Savage Planet, a French animated film by René Laloux is the adaptation of Stefan Wul’s novel.

what would humanity be if we were not the supposed superior race? This French animated film depicts a world where people are the pets of aliens known as Oms.

The Oms see humans as wild animals that can be taken as pets. One of the strengths of this animated film is the remarkable parallels with the way humans interact with the other species around them.

The story and its French animation style inspired by surrealism and psychedelic, along with the imposing soundtrack that manages to convey a distressing and thrilling feeling, is a true delight that will not leave you indifferent. This is, without a doubt, one of the best French animated films of all time.

películas de animación francesa

Source:The Savage Planet

The masters of time (1981)

On his way into French animation, Laloux brilliantly adapted another science fiction story by Stefan Wul, The Masters of Time.

This French animated film continues the surrealist aesthetic, and also features a soundtrack that provides an atmosphere of unease and disturbance.

The premise of this animated cartoon is very simple: the rescue of a lost child on a planet called Perdide, a journey that is complicated by numerous setbacks, one of them being the encounter with a prince willing to do anything to recover his treasure.

Source: The masters of time

Kirikú and the witch (1998)

This French animated film is based on an African tale and tells the story of Kirikou, a boy destined to save the African village where he was born, because it is suffering from a drought due to a witch’s curse.

This French animated film was so successful that two movies were made: Kirikou et les bêtes sauvages (2005) and Kirikou et les hommes et les femmes (2012).

Persepolis (2007)

This French animated film was nominated for an Oscar, and although it didn’t win the statuette, it didn’t need it. This French animated film does not need any award to win the hearts of the audience.

It tells the story of a little girl growing up in Iran in the midst of the Islamic Revolution. In this French animated story, with clear biographical overtones, we see how the little girl’s life changes when she is sent to a school in Austria.

In addition to feeling vulnerable in her new school, she will have to fight the stereotypes linked to religious fundamentalism and extremism from which she has fled. Without a doubt, this film is a memorable example of what the best French animated films can be.

película de animación francesa


The Triplets of Belleville (2003)

French animation director, Sylvain Chomet, wowed the world with this quirky French animated story, mixing comedy and adventure with a comic and quirky sense.

This is one of those French animated works that blends the very essence of France with the outside world. It tells the story of Madame Souza, who must rescue her nephew, the Tour de France champion, from kidnapping. Along the way, she will meet many characters, including the triplets of the title, who will help her accomplish her goal.

There is little dialogue in this French animation, so, most of his story is told through sounds, pantomime and songs. an unforgettable experience!

peliculas de animacion francesa infantiles

Source: The Triplets of Belleville

Ghost boy (2015)

This French animated film full of surprises and wonders, much more recent shows us how French animation is today.

It is the story of a detective who tries to stop a dangerous gangster, with the help of a boy who can leave his body and float like a ghost. The story marvels with its unique French animation, its quirky charm, and a plot that fits perfectly with its French animation style.

Where is my body (2019)

This French animation could very well be the quintessential “French Animated Film 2019” and that’s because it’s a humorous, romantic, surreal, interesting and charming story, which portrays how a hand separated from its body desperately tries to return to it.

It is extremely wonderful, but at the same time, macabre and strange. ever thought of connecting emotionally with a dismembered hand moving on its own? well, in this French animation it’s possible!

animación francesa

Source:Where is my body?

now you know a little more about French animation! As you will see, each country has its own style and stories to tell. The best thing is that you can watch and enjoy animated films from all over the world.

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