UMC - Grandes Marques et Maisons de Champagne

Champagne, star of the seventh art

... So too do toons

French animated cartoons came into being in 1908 with Fantasmagorie: an animated short by French caricaturist Emile Cohl depicting crazy images morphing from one to the next. It was the first of more than 300 animated films created by Cohl, a Gaumont employee who once described himself as a truqueur de naissance (a born trickster).

The film projected at the then unthinkable rate of 16 frames per second, including one showing the central stick character being hit by a cork shooting out of a giant bottle. In Cohl’s later and rather more elegant animation, Le songe d’un garçon de café (1910, The Hasher’s Delirium) a Champagne bottle morphing into a beautiful woman features among the alcohol-fuelled dreams of a drunken waiter.

And so it has continued ever since, with Champagne regularly appearing in animated films. Walt Disney, for instance, makes a particular feature of Champagne in Dumbo (1941) and Beauty and the Beast (1991). In Dumbo, accidentally drinking water spiked with Champagne causes our baby elephant to dream of dancing pink elephants before taking to the skies then waking up the following morning at the top of a tree. Fifty years later, a dinner scene in Beauty and the Beast ends with pink Champagne gushing out of a line up of bottles to the strains of Be our Guest, celebrating the delights of French food.

More recently, Champagne turns up in Sylvain Chomet’s Les Triplettes de Belleville (2003, The Triplets of Belleville) – a film that breathed new life into French animation – followed in 2005 by Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath’s Madagascar and its 2008 sequel Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. One the funniest scenes features a penguin flight attendant serving what looks like Roederer Cristal to passengers watching an in-flight movie about air disasters. Though the bottle is unmarked, we have it on good authority from director Eric Darnell himself that Roederer Cristal was his main source of inspiration, luxury brands holding strong appeal for penguins.

Foxes meanwhile seem to prefer Dom Perignon, to judge from the Champagne served to Foxy’s guests in Wes Anderson’s delightful stop-motion animation of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox (2009).

For our last two films, we return to Belle Epoque Paris: to the Oiseau Rare nightclub where guests drink glasses of Champagne while listening to Lucille and Francoeur sing in Bibo Bergeron’s 3-D animated musical comedy Un Monstre à Paris (2011, A Monster in Paris); and to a restaurant on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower in Michel Ocelot’s computer-animated Dilili à Paris (2018, Dilili in Paris). What you see here is an open, funny-looking bottle of Mote & Donchan Brut Imperial Vintage (year illegible) – ring any bells?