Felidae is a 1994 German adult animated neo-noir crime horror film directed by Michael Schaack, produced by Trickompany and written by Martin Kluger, Stefaan Schieder and Akif Pirinçci based on Pirinçci's 1989 novel of the same name. It includes the voices of Ulrich Tukur, Mario Adorf and Klaus Maria Brandauer. The story centers on house cat Francis and the grisly feline murders taking place in his new neighborhood.[1]

Plot[edit | edit source]

Francis, an intelligent and cynical cat, is moved to a gloomy, dilapidated house in Hamburg with his owner Gustav Löbel, an archaeologist and erotic novelist. During Francis' exploratory tour of the house, he discovers a chemical odor emanating from the topmost floor, as well as the fresh corpse of a cat who had been killed by a targeted bite. At the scene of this murder, Francis meets and befriends Bluebeard, a half-blinded, foul-mouthed Manx. Soon, Francis discovers another body and the fact that his house's top floor is the meeting site of a sect of cats led by Joker; the members of the sect worship an entity named Claudandus and perform ritualistic suicide by throwing themselves in an electric current. When Francis' cover is blown, he is chased through the city's rooftops. He escapes through a skylight and meets a blind cat named Felicity, who informs Francis that Claudandus was a cat who lived in their area years ago, and was tortured relentlessly by humans. He is hailed as a savior among the local cats, who to this day pray for him. Felicity also reveals that the victims of the murders have consistently been sexually-excited male cats who have conversed with an urgent, convicted and persuasive voice they were all acquainted with. The next day, Bluebeard takes Francis to Pascal, an elderly and tech-savvy cat who has taken to meticulously maintaining a list of feline deaths in the area, through which Francis learns that Felicity is the latest victim. That night, Francis is haunted by a nightmare in which Gregor Mendel leaves him with riddles.

During a rodent hunt, Francis discovers a video recording that documents the top floor's previous use as an experimental laboratory that was devoted to the research and development of a tissue adhesive that would close wounds in an instant. The test subjects largely consisted of stray cats. However, the serums usually failed, causing the animals to suffer painful deaths. The one cat who survived the experiments was christened by the lab's technicians as "Claudandus", Latin for "He who should or must be sealed". The video recording ends with the lead researcher, Professor Julius Preterius, attempted to release Claudandus from his cage, believing to be able to speak to him. The murders seem to point to and are taken credit by a large and aggressive neighborhood cat named Kong. However, while escaping Kong and his goons, Francis comes across the disemboweled remains of a female pregnant cat named Solitaire. Kong, who had mated with Solitaire, is devastated over her and his unborn kittens' deaths, leaving the trail cold.

Francis has another dream in which a brightly colored cat who calls himself "Felidae" persuades Francis to join him on a long, wonderful journey. Francis wakes to the calls of a female cat in heat, whose breed he doesn't recognize. She replies to the question of her breed with a cryptic answer, saying that it is "old and new". The query of her name is similarly stonewalled, so Francis unquestionably complies to the amorous female's insistence that they copulate. An exhausted Francis tells Bluebeard of the she-cat he met, and how she looked different from them. Bluebeard reveals awareness of her breed, and states that they are in many ways different from them. Not only have they been recently been taken in by humans as household pets (to which Bluebeard claims to be a death wish), but for some reason, they lack the same healthy trend to domestication found in most cats. This makes them more feral and more solitary, to which Bluebeard considers makes them "dangerous".

Francis gradually traces the neighborhood cats who descended from the strays involved in the experiments and is confronted by Pascal, who reveals himself as Claudandus. He reveals that he killed Professor Preterius shortly after he released him from his cage and was taken by one of the researchers, during this time he learned about the Mendel Genetical Theory and plans to create a breed of genetically engineered cats to wipe out humanity. The murdered cats, now including Joker, were deemed unworthy of breeding with the pure females that Claudandus had engineered. An additional obstacle in Claudandus' plot is the fact that he is terminally ill with stomach cancer. Although Claudandus deems Francis an ideal successor, Francis defies Claudandus' ambition and attempts to delete the data that Claudandus had gathered. The ensuing fight between the two results in a fire, where Francis eventually disembowels and kills Claudandus and flees the scene with an injured Bluebeard. Following these events, Francis is reunited with Nhozemphtekh and they walk home.

Cast[edit | edit source]

  • Ulrich Tukur as Francis, a cat detective who is new to the district and befriends Bluebeard and Pascal. Voiced in English by Cary Elwes.
  • Mario Adorf as Blaubart/Bluebeard, a disfigured Manx cat who spent his childhood in Professor Preterius' lab and befriends Francis at the beginning of his murder investigation. Voiced in English by Michael Madsen.
  • Klaus Maria Brandauer as Claudandus formerly known as Pascal, an elderly Havana Brown owned by Ziebold, a former associate of Preterius. Voiced in English by Christopher Lloyd.
  • Helge Schneider as Jesaja, a Persian cat and self-proclaimed "Guardian of the Dead" who lives in the catacombs underneath the district and receives the bodies of murdered cats. Voiced in English by Arthur Malet
  • Wolfgang Hess as Kong, a Himalayan cat who antagonizes Francis until his pregnant mate Solitaire is murdered. Voiced in English by J.K. Simmons.
  • Gerhard Garbers as Professor Julius Preterius, a previous resident of Francis's current home who attempted to create an infallible tissue adhesive by experimenting on local stray cats until he was murdered by a test subject named Claudandus. Voiced in English by John Hurt.
  • Ulrich Wildgruber as Joker, the high priest of the Claudandus sect. He allows Claudandus to kill him in order to protect the secrecy of the sect. Later his body was found by Francis. Voiced in English by Burt Reynolds.
  • Mona Seefried as Felicitas/Felicity, a Russian Blue who lost her eyesight as a kitten in Preterius' lab and lives in Francis's district. Voiced in English by Kath Soucie.
  • Manfred Steffen as Gustav Löbel, Francis's owner. Voiced in English by Bill Fagerbakke.
  • Uwe Ochsenknecht as Archie, Gustav's acquaintance and renovating partner. Voiced in English by Steve Buscemi
  • Michaela Amler as Nhozemphtekh, a cat belonging to an "old and new" breed who seduces Francis. Voiced in English by Elizabeth Daily.
  • Christian Schneller as Gregor Mendel, who appears as a figure in Francis's dreams. Voiced in English by Rick Jones.
  • Tobias Lelle and Frank Röth as the Hermanns, a pair of Oriental Shorthairs who act as Kong's sidekicks. Voiced in English by Tom Kenny and Rob Paulsen
  • Alexandra Mink as Pepeline, Joker's great-granddaughter. Voiced in English by Tabitha St. Germain

Production[edit | edit source]

Felidae was the most expensive animated film produced in Germany to date, costing 10 million Deutschmarks.[2] The characters were designed by Paul Bolger, who also served as a head animator for the film from Dagda Film Limited in Dublin. Armen Melkonian was the film's layout designer and a head animator from the studio Azadart in Toronto. The film was mainly animated by TFC Trickompany in Hamburg, from which Hayo Freitag notably animated the Mendel sequence. Some of the animation was farmed out to other studios, including Animationstudio Ludewig in Hamburg, Uli Meyer Animation in London, Natterjack Animation in Vancouver (from which Steven Evangelatos was the head animator), Mediasoft in Hamburg, Premier Films in London (from which John Cousen was the head animator), A-Film APS in Kopenhagen (from which Michael Hegner was the head animator) and Hahn Shin Corporation in Seoul (from which Shin-Mok Choi was the head animator).

An uncredited English version of the film was produced and was intended to be released in English-speaking regions (e.g. United Kingdom, United States, etc.) from 1995 to 1997, but the only region it saw an official release in was Australia under distribution by RocVale Film Pty. Ltd. It is however available on YouTube and was released on VHS in Thailand. It was also included on the German & French DVD releases.

  1. Zeichentrick - Jagen und töten (in de). Retrieved on 2016-04-15.
  2. (2007) "Toward a German Multiculturalism", The Guest Worker Question in Postwar German. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-87000-3. 
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