Set in and around an eerie, oddly futuristic yet late 19th-century waterfront (it’s a setting seemingly inspired by Samuel Beckett and Fritz Lang), the film follows a hulking but pea-brained circus strongman (Perlman) known only as “One” who is on a desperate search to find his ward, Little Brother, who was abducted by a freakish, quasi-religious group of cyclopes. Along the way, he joins forces with a group of street urchins who steal for a Fagin-esque Siamese twin. The search ultimately leads to a sea-platform/laboratory where Krank, the genetically created orphan of a mad scientist, lords over his siblings (including six identical twins, a female dwarf and a talking brain in a box) and conducts diabolical dream experiments.
If you can read that and not want to see this movie, my hat is off to you, good sir. The City of Lost Children is actually an intriguing modern fairy tale with a seamless visual style, good acting and some interesting special effects. This description comes from TLA Video’s Film and Video Guide and believe it or not, it does the movie justice. By the way, TLA is a wonderful, wonderful little store (actually 6 stores). If you are ever in the Philadephia area and need to rent something offbeat or hard to find, check them out. They’ve never let me down.