Cable Car Cinema: The Girl Without Hands: A Beautiful Narrative About Humans and The Natural World

by The Cowl Editor on October 26, 2017

Arts & Entertainment

A scene from the French Film The Girl Without Hands.
Photo courtesy of

by Alexis Jais ’18

A&E Staff

Many people argue that some of the most visually captivating films are those without real-world components. Although animated features can be perceived as “immature” compared to realistic films with high production values, films like The Girl Without Hands (2017) remind audiences of the complexity of animation.

With so many styles of animation in the film world today, it is hard to imagine variations different from those we are familiar with. Examples of these variations include Hayao Miyazaki’s colorful and dreamlike fantastical adventure films, Tim Burton’s eerie and whimsical stop-motion clay creations, three-dimensional Disney productions, and revamped classic cartoon styles that are endlessly featured on Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network.

The Girl Without Hands, however, is of an entirely unique and highly complex style of animation developed by Sebastien Laudenbach. The film is a touching and at times upsetting narrative about relationships between humans and the natural world. It has recently been released to theaters across the United States after winning several awards at French and International Animated Film Festivals.

The Girl Without Hands is a French film created by a team of very skilled animators, editors, and musicians. While Laudenbach may be the genius behind the minimalistic yet thought-provoking style of animation,  Clorinde Baldassari, the compsiting director, and Santi Minasi, film editor, brought his unadorned drawings to life. Their roles gave two-dimensional characters a certain depth and electricity that is nearly impossible to develop in a film with real actors and settings.

The film is based on the Brothers Grimm fairytale of the same name. It is a story about a young girl whose father sells her to the devil for a lifetime supply of gold, and agrees to cut off her hands to appease the devil. She sets out on a journey in which she finds love, loses it, embraces motherhood, and binds with nature to overcome the wrath of the devil.

Laudenbach includes minimal objects within each scene to avoid distracting the viewer from the focal character. He includes certain colors to depict different characters. Colors and shapes that make up characters flit in and out of existence and denote feelings of ecstasy, fear, and adrenaline.

Bold lines morph into thin, weak strands to depict a character’s feelings. Furthermore, the score, which was developed by Olivier Mellano, adds emotion to an already overflowing narrative and story line.

While it is an incredibly beautiful and successful film, The Girl Without Hands has only come to select theaters in the United States this past summer. The Cable Car Cinema in Providence shows a curated selection of films each night, such as The Girl Without Hands. The theater usually only has around two or three films playing on any given night at staggered times since the theater has only one showroom that can house somewhere between 100 and 150 people.

Because of its small selection in films, which are often in a different language and not a part of the popular culture, the films do not get as much attention as they might in a bigger city or at a more public taste-friendly theater. Visit The Cable Car Cinema’s website to see the various shows that will be featured in this upcoming year.