Belleville Rendezvous is a film I got for my twelfth birthday. It’s an animation about the Tour De France, and I first saw it in my French class at school. It’s in French but there isn’t much talking, although there are subtitles when necessary.
Champion is a young orphan boy living with his elderly grandmother, Madame Souza, in a house in the country. She can see that he’s bored and needs a hobby, and she searches desperately around for something that will do. Hoping it will interest him, she buys a little puppy, but the only thing that happens is that the puppy becomes bored too. Champion makes a train track and watches the train go round and round with his dog, Bruno. Bruno’s sitting too close and it runs over his tail, and from then on he barks at every train he sees. Madame Souza, sitting nearby, comes across a hole in her newspaper on the Sports page and asks Champion about it, but he just shakes his head. Later, she’s making his bed and she sees a picture that is pinned up above it of his mother and father with a bicycle. Something fall out from underneath the mattress and she picks it up and look inside. It’s an exercise book, full of pictures and newspaper clips of cyclists. She then buys him a tricycle, and he is ecstatic.
Years later, the city has spread out so far that the countryside cottage is being almost knocked down by a railway bridge, with trains that speed past the top window, so that each time one passes Bruno has to make a special trip upstairs to bark at it. It’s raining, and Champion, who is older, much taller, and much, much thinner, is cycling up a steep hill in the pouring rain, closely followed by his grandmother on his old tricycle. She is sheltered by an umbrella and is blowing a whistle as she tries to train him up for the upcoming Tour De France. A bus comes along and pushes them against the pavement until finally Champion falls off his bicycle.
When they get home, they are met by Bruno. Madame Souza is carrying the mangled bike and Champion looks exhausted. He goes and lies on the table with his eyes closed, whilst his grandmother fusses around him and tries to fix his bicycle. She sits him on some scales and lets him eat until he reaches exactly the right weight. He’s only had a few forkfuls, but she takes his plate away and dumps the rest in the dog’s bowl, and he doesn’t object. He puts a record on the gramophone and winds it up by cycling at top speed on a bicycle that is attached. After a while he falls asleep and is carried upstairs by him tiny but stalwart grandmother, closely followed by Bruno the dog.
The day dawns of the Tour De France, and Champion is struggling at the back of the long line of cyclist, followed by his faithful grandmother, sitting knitting on top of a van, and Bruno the dog. Some sinister men in black suits appear and give their tire a puncture, so that they have to stop to repair it. While they do so, they capture Champion and take him away.
From then on it’s up to the grandmother and the dog to find out what has happened to Champion. They befriend some unusual old ladies, who are ancient triplets with a love for hand grenades, eating frogs, and using household items to make music. With their help, they manage to rescue Champion and two other captured cyclists.
It does not end happily though- the last scene is in a darkened room with a grey-haired Champion sitting in front of a television. He calls for his grandmother but she does not come.
This film is slightly strange and surreal and it is definitely very sad. The animations and mostly focused on soft grey and brown colours, but they brighten up as the grandmother enters a big city for the first time, as if to show how disorientated she is. There isn’t very much talking so it’s not a very educational film if you’re trying to learn French, but the music and the idea are amazing.
I particularly like the fact that the grandmother is such a resilient and resourceful character. She seems to be the kind of person you could rely on to help you. Bruno the dog’s dreams are interesting to watch, and it was good to have a break from the main film every now and then. I also really liked the caricatures, such as the waiter who leans dramatically backwards and forwards when he is taking people’s orders.
Overall I would say that this is a very good film, but not one to watch at a sleepover or with a friend, as it’s hardly ever funny and it might have you depressed for the rest of the evening. For any other kind of film watching, it’s a great experience which I am very glad I’ve had!
Estimated watching age: It’s a twelve but my nine year old brother has seen it and wasn’t scared or anything so I would say nine and up.
Price on Amazon: £9.69 for normal DVD, no BluRay edition.
Producer: Didier Brunner, Paul Cadieux, Regis Ghezelbash, Colin Rose, Viviane Vanfleteren
Director: Sylvain Chomet
Film certificate: 12
The Short Second Life Of Bree Tanner- an Eclipse Novellaby Stephenie Meyer is the point of view of a newborn vampire created by Riley Biers, a normal man in a normal town until he was drawn into a feud between Edward Cullen and Victoria, two other vampires. It’s set at the same time as the book Eclipse, part of the Twilight Saga.
Victoria seeks revenge on her husband James, who was killed by Edward and the rest of the Olympian Coven in an effort to protect Bella Swan, a human who Edward loves. She changes Riley into a vampire and takes him to Seattle to try to build up an army to kill Bella, knowing that Edward loves her and will be heartbroken if she dies, just as she is over James.
She knows how experienced the Cullens are, and that they are allies with werewolves, who are mortal foes of vampires, and realises she won’t be able to do it on her own. Victoria also knows that Alice Cullen, Edward’s sister, can see the future and monitors it by watching people’s decisions, and so will know about the army if she makes any decisions herself. Because of this she leaves it all to Riley. The army ravage Seattle, killing in huge numbers and causing havoc, unable to control their thirst for blood. Bree befriends Diego, a vampire who, like her, really does not want to be amongst all the killing. They start to enjoy their time in Seattle, exploring and finding things out about vampires which they didn’t know before. But when they have enough numbers, Riley and Victoria take them to Forks, Washington, to attack the Cullens.
Unfortunately for Bree and the rest, the Cullens and Bella work out that they’re coming and build up enough forces to stop them. The Cullens and the werewolf pack manage to kill them all apart from Bree, who they spare because she surrenders. But then the Volturi, the vampire equivalent of royalty, step in and things start looking bad for Bree…
I like this book because it’s really interesting to see another perspective on the Eclipse. Because Eclipse and the rest of the series is told from Bella’s point of view you don’t really get any sense of what it’s like beyond her safe world and what the vampires are really feeling.
Most of the series is about how much Bella wants to be a vampire and how perfect the vampires she knows are but I like the idea that there might be more to it than immortality and godlike beauty.
When I was reading the Twilight Saga I found most it very believable. I think it’s an amazing book and it is definitely one of my favourites. Sometimes though, because everything’s so perfect for Bella, it’s obvious it’s a work of someone’s imagination. In Bree’s world it’s different and there’s a lot more depth to the characters because of it. It tells you how Bree and the rest of the newborn vampires are feeling- confused, aggressive and above all, very thirsty!
Bree herself is kind and very easy to empathise with- she gives you the real feeling of the dark streets, being afraid even of the people closest to you, not comprehending anything that was happening to you, not even being able to dream about your old life because it in itself was just as bad.
If you’ve read Eclipse before it, you’ll know Bree’s fate. But even knowing what’s going to happen to her doesn’t make the book feel pointless. It just makes you savour it more because you know it’s only going to last so long.
Genre: Fantasy romance
Estimated reading age: 10 and up
Price on Amazon: £3.89 for paperback, £4.49 for Kindle edition
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Main characters: Bree Tanner, Diego, Riley Biers
The only part of Eclipse where Bree features- WARNING: SPOILER!!!
Rating: ★★★★ Definitely not the best in the Twilight Saga but still absolutely amazing… I loved it so much that I just wish it was a bit longer.
WARNING- DO NOT READ THE INTRODUCTION BEFOREHAND. IT GIVES AWAY A LOT MORE THAN IT SHOULD!