Felidae Novel Review Essay

I learned about this film on YouTube while watching "The Plague Dogs" (apparently I'm not alone) and decided to give it a watch. I read some information about it beforehand, so I was more or less prepared for the adult content when I saw it, and I was pleasantly surprised by the level of violence and darkness in an animated film. I always enjoy films that challenge the concept that animation = for kids. Animation is an art style, not a genre, and can be just as much for adults as for children.

In short, Felidae is not a children's film. It contains sex, gore, violence, and so on. I find it surprising, though, how so many people comment on the mating scene--which lasts only a matter of seconds and is done quite subtly--but I have seen hardly any mention of the sexual artwork displayed on the wall in several scenes--artwork that clearly shows the genitals of nude humans having sex. I would have expected the latter to get more attention for "inappropriateness." There are a lot of other sexual references throughout the film, but as I said before, this is an adult film and so the sexual content is both acceptable and reasonable within the story.

On a different note, speaking as the owner of four cats and someone who has had occasion to observe cat sex in real life, I can say the scene (and the film in general) is a rather accurate portrayal of cat behavior (the human-like qualities aside, of course.) Although I did think the gore in some parts was a bit excessive, but I like how the makers of the film went for a more realistic look instead of "dumbing it down." When an animal is ripped open, there's going to be a decent amount of blood and possibly guts showing, and drawing minimal gore would give the image less of an impact. I don't think any part was really too extreme or upsetting for the what the film was trying to do. There were only two scenes that were particularly disturbing to me personally: the experimentation scene because I know it's a real thing and the second nightmare with the puppet corpses because of the surreal appearance.

The voice acting matched the characters and tone of the story quite well (I watched the German version with subtitles which, since I'm trying to learn German, had the added bonus of being good practice material). I did look at some clips of the English version, and although Francis' voice is a little too squeaky for my taste, the English voices were also pretty good.

I have not read the book, so I can't speak about the effectiveness of the adaptation, but by itself, I enjoyed the appearance and plot of the film, and I don't see how it was easily predictable like some reviewers have said. I am someone who usually solves mystery stories before the characters do, and I didn't figure this one out until after Joker was killed. There were plenty of twists that kept the mystery fresh and interesting. The only thing I wish the film did better was the portrayal of animal lab experimentation. While the one scene that shows it does so in a wonderfully horrifying way, I feel giving the animal cruelty aspect a larger role in the film would have made the message stronger.

Unfortunately, since animation films are generally expected to be child-friendly material, films like Felidae that do not fit into that box are often pushed aside and forgotten. It's a shame because, when approached as an adult film, Felidae is really an excellent and intriguing mystery thriller.

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Dark, innovative, only for adults. Those are the major things that describes Michael Schaack's animated opus Felidae. The film mixes a classic film noir formula with mass murder, cult activities, large ranges of gore and surreal horrific nightmares and some raunchy sex all from the perspective of a society of cats. Though I would love to mention the English voice cast by name to really say how well of a job each one did, the interesting thing is that the English-speaking cast for this film is largely unknown, since they were never added to the credits. But besides this, the animation is much like that of hybrid of Don Bluth's An American Tail and Ralph Bakshi's Fritz the Cat, with its own unique vibe. The story moves surprisingly well, the narration is reminiscent of Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity with a feline twist, the characters are enjoyable and three-dimensional and the interlacing of genetics, breeding, scientific experimentation (especially on animals) and the complexity of the unknown to really make something as childish as a talking cat to really treat its audience with respect to their intelligence. Not only this, the jokes are actually pretty amusing and the dialogue is never really forced, usually something very evident in much of animated films in general. All in all, one of the best and most overlooked animated movies of the 1990s World Animation Renaissance.

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