dir. BÉLA TERNOVSZKY Hungary, Canada, Germany 1986 | 96 mins
There was no other way to react to the growing paranoia of the Cold War than by using the humour which was provided in 1986 by our Hungarian comrades in a very unique variation on spy movies.
In the case of the film Cat City we can hardly avoid comparing the movie with Václav Bedřich´s Czechoslovakian animated short Velká Sýrová Loupež (Great Cheese Robbery). Compared to the cheese paraphrase of the famous American movie Sting, which used the same poetics and narrative form, Hungarian filmmakers took a more radical point of view in their reflection on the international situation. Director Béla Ternovszky knowledgeably uses the main elements of spy movies which are based not only on the postmodern perception of the uncertain identity but even more on the perception of the international political scene as bipolar. The everlasting cat-dog war is transformed here into a model scheme where the more powerful cats-hunters try to destroy the world of mice.
The central duo of protagonist and antagonist is presented here by fearless agent Grabovszky who fights the cat mafia led by demonic gangster Fritz Teufl. Hyperbolic tendencies in the narration of the actions of the secret agents are executed to absurd proportions. The gangster´s crooked character is present in his physical appearance that is deformed by many injuries (the most scary being the cyborg metal arm). On the other hand the spy Grabovszky is the embodiment of averageness – in the sense of his Bond-like general knowledge of nearly every aspect of social and common life.
The moment when the world is facing the end of days, the only hope left is a privileged man or woman representing the archetypal scheme of social presentation of our history. The exclusivity of the Chosen one comes from his/her inner awakening; a state in which he/ she remains thanks to his/her neighbourhood. Because only Grabovszky can stand against cat villains with sophisticated criminal organization and hi-tech gadgets. The weight of the message which relates more to the world of grownups is lowered by juvenile playfulness as has been already declared in the title of the movie. The professor whose invention saves the day is named Fushimishi and he resides in Pokio (even the translation is a funny way of working with the meaning and sound level of the particular language).
On top of that the organization sending Grabovszky on a rescue mission proudly calls itself Intermauz. According to the formula; mauz (mouse) equals police, we get clear evidence that Intermauz is the guarantor of social order. By an intelligent combination of the seriousness of the world of adults and children's understanding of cause and relations within the narrative structure, the filmmakers were able to create a complex film which, in many aspects, marks the era of 3D animated films.
Béla Ternovszky is a prominent Hungarian animated film director. He is best known to Czech audience for his participation on the very popular series about family Smolíkovi. Film Cat City was followed two years ago by a loose sequel Catcher – Cat City 2.