Well hello, fellow movie lovers. Allow me to start this post by saying, “Happy Valentine’s Day,” or for my single friends, “Happy Pal-entine’s Day.” Today’s special post is dedicated to the French film Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart. While this is not necessarily a love story in it’s entirety, it does have some elements that are celebrated on this day (this post may be brief due to the lack of information on this underexposed movie).
This movie, like Mary and Max, started as a foreign film festival production. The film, based on a novel by Mathias Malzieu, was originally released at the Arras Film Festival in France on November 17, 2013. Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart also took a swing at the Berlin International Film Festival in February of 2014, and the Brussels European Film Festival in June of 2016. Like many of the productions in the film festival industry tend to do, Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart had very spread out release dates. It was first introduced to the United States as a limited premier in September of 2014, and then released on Blu-ray and DVD in October of 2014. The film was directed by Stéphane Berla and Mathias Malzieu. Along with being one of the writers and directors, Malzieu also starred in the film, as the voice of Jack, along side Olivia Ruiz who voiced Miss Acacia (full cast). Now, personally, I believe that this movie is amazing and fantastic; there are simply not enough words to describe how much I love this film. But some European critics may not fully agree with me. The film was only nominated for three awards: “Best Film” at the Berlin International Film Festival, “Best Animated Film” at the César Awards in France, and “European Animated Feature Film” at the European Film Awards. Sadly, Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart did not bring home any awards.
Jack was born on a cold, winter day; the coldest winter day to be exact. He is taken to a witch doctor, named Madeleine, in Edinburgh. When Jack is born, his heart is frozen solid; Madeleine offers to take the child under her care as only she could take care of him and his heart that she replaced with a cuckoo-clock. As he is growing up, his new mother, Madeleine, gives him three rules to follow: never touch the hands of your heart, keep your temper under control, and never fall in love. Jack follows all three rules up until his fourteenth birthday when he goes out into the city and finds a girl who is named, as he later discovered, Miss Acacia. He falls in love with young Miss Acacia and searches for her at the private school he joins but she is no where to be found. Jack is constantly made fun of because of his abnormal heart and eventually loses his temper and pokes out the eye of a bully named Joe. Afraid of prosecution, Jack runs off and literally joins the circus, an Extraodirarium as it its called. On his way to the Extraordinarium, Jack meets and almost falls victim to Jack the Ripper but is saved by cinematographer, George Méliès. Jack and George continue on to their journeys together after George fixes Jack’s heart. While Jack is searching for himself and he belongs, he happens to find Miss Acacia to have been located at his destination. Is this fate? While a majority of the film focuses on the love between Jack and Miss Acacia, it asks the question, “would you be willing to die for love?” Jack knows that one of the three rules he must follow is “never fall in love,” yet he does anyway. While it seems like a huge romantic gesture giving the key to your heart to the one you love, Jack’s intention is not to be romantic but to let Miss Acacia decide if he is to continue to live even after he has fallen in love. What this lovely film brings about is the question I previously mentioned but also if it is enough to love to create a full life. Jack has been through many intriguing experiences with the fantastical but once he does get his love back, his life is complete. I guess that is something we all must ask ourselves, is life complete after we find love or do we need more?
Which ever way you choose to answer that question, I encourage you to watch the trailer. Rent the movie, or watch it on Netflix, and enjoy the wonders of Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart.