Behind The Scenes: The City Of Lost Children

The City of Lost Children, or as it is originally released La Cite des Enfants Perdus, is the movie that often pops into my mind when people talk about their favorite movie of all times. If you haven’t seen this, do yourself a favor and watch it (amazon video link). Also, consider me a snob, but do not watch it dubbed. Watch the original French. There is so much acting delivered in the voices and timing that to watch with an overdub would be missing half the movie.


There aren’t many details in the video, more of a glimpse through production, but there are a few nice tidbits. This robotic arm rig is simply gorgeous and you get some great peeks into the actual construction of several of the stages.

One that is noticeably missing from this video is the “cyclopse” eye rig. These are very prominent in the movie, I would have assumed we would have seen more than a few concept sketches.

When I was looking for more details on the design, I did find where the actual film props had gone to auction and sold for about £2,000.


Looking at the auction pics, I was pleasantly surprised by the detail on these props! I never noticed that intricate engraving in the movie, this is just beautiful. While the eyepiece is cast plastic, the part that you hold in your hand is fully constructed from wood and brass.

I have only managed to find a few images from the set. I suspect that my lack of understanding of what terms to search for in French may be why I’m having such difficulty.

The set design in this movie alone is worth a watch. There are several main areas in which the movie takes place and while they all feel solidly placed within the same gritty world, they also have drastic differences.

It would appear that as of 2006, at least some of the set still exists. Here you can see a picture by Xavier Bo of the “cathedral”. This was taken in Saint Germain lès Arpajon and it is supposedly still standing there. Anyone want to take a trip over there and confirm? Here’s a link to the supposed location in google maps.


As I’m building out this site, I’m finding that there is a frustrating lack of documentation on who built what. I’m sure it is documented somewhere, but I can’t seem to find it on a granular level. I see 4 companies listed for special effects in this movie, but that is where the details end. Hopefully I can grow this site to a big enough force that people are excited to share info, we’ll see.


Though this is a blog primarily about practical effects, I can’t help but be fascinated by some of the digital counterparts, especially when they’re old. I found this fun video showing the creation of the game based off the movie. Kind of fun to see the digital set design back then.