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The 10 Best Movies Based on French Comic Books

While English-language comic books have undoubtedly proven to be the more popular sources of material for film adaptations, fans may be surprised by the volume of movies that have been adapted from French comic books. You’ve likely seen several titles featured on this list, though some will without a doubt appear unfamiliar.



Some of these titles were made by talented directors, and a few even feature star-studded casts. There’s a great variety of genres to be found herein, and while the films run the gamut of popularity, fans can rest assured that they’re all of notable quality. All that said, these are the 10 best movies based on French comic books, ranked.


10 Barbarella (1968)

In Barbarella (1968), Jane Fonda stars as the eponymous Queen of the Galaxy, a space explorer who’s sent on a mission by Earth’s president. In search of an evil scientist, Barbarella crashes on a mysterious island, where she’s soon held captive. A man named Mark Hand (played by Ugo Tognazzi) comes to her rescue, and the two search together for the aforementioned antagonist: Milo O’Shea’s character, Durand-Durand.

A Feast for the Eyes

The first act of Barbarella remains thoroughly enjoyable today, thanks to the intriguing premise. And while it wanes in overall quality as the run time expands, its mesmerizing visuals hold up the whole way through. In many ways, its production design was ahead of its time — combined with engaging cinematography by Jean Renoir, this adaptation is well worth a watch. Stream on Paramount+

9 The Rabbi’s Cat (2011)

Directed by both Joann Sfar and Antoine Delesvaux, The Rabbi’s Cat (2011) was adapted from the latter’s comic series of the same name. Set in 1920s Algeria, it chronicles a cat who swallows a parrot, and thereby gains the ability to speak. His rabbi owner finds his decorum abrasive, and thus teaches him about the Torah. It’s a unique, intriguing premise, and the final product received critical acclaim.

An Exploration of Philosophy and Religion

A talking cat with an attitude sounds like your average animation film. But undertones of philosophy and religion swell to the surface of The Rabbi’s Cat after its intriguing inciting incident. It’s an intelligent script, and critics resonated with its animation style along with its intertwining themes. Though not the most popular movie that’s been adapted from a French comic book, The Rabbi’s Cat is still among the best. Buy on AppleTV

8 Chicken With Plums (2011)

With Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud as co-writer-directors, Chicken With Plums (2011) was adapted from the former’s graphic novel of the same name. It follows Ali Khan, whose wife, in retaliation for neglecting their children, breaks his violin. The loss of his beloved instrument destroys Ali’s will to live, and he lies in bed to die. He then meets the Angel of Death, who gives glimpses into the futures of his children.

An Inventive Story with Striking Visuals

With a carefully curated color palette and creative shot selections, a striking visual appeal is established from the film’s first scene. It features flashback and flash-forward scenes that are highlighted by well-timed editing re: continuity transitioning. The result is a hallucinogenic dive into the protagonist’s broken psyche. Rent on AppleTV

7 The Killer (2023)

Read Our Review

Directed by David Fincher from Andrew Kevin Walker’s script, The Killer (2023) marks their second collaboration following a critical darling called Se7en (1995). And while the latter holds strong as the higher-quality thriller, this tale of an assassin on a revenge tour should nonetheless hit home for fans of the French graphic novel series on which the film is based.

Charismatic Performances

As the eponymous contract killer, famous actor Michael Fassbender provides one of his all-time best performances. He works wonderfully alongside Charles Parnell and Tilda Swinton, with all of their performances making up for an otherwise basic plot. The Killer received great praise from critics thanks to the charisma the actors showcased under Fincher’s confident direction. Stream on Netflix

6 Falcon Lake (2022)

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A coming-of-age drama, Falcon Lake (2022) was directed by Charlotte Le Bon. She also co-wrote the script with François Choquet and Bastien Vivès, adapted from the latter’s graphic novel Une Sœur. All three of their efforts resulted in widespread acclaim, with Falcon Lake even marking Le Bon’s debut as a director. Pretty impressive, even if the project itself went largely under the public radar.

The Complexities of Young Love

Following a pair of teenagers named Bastien and Chloé — played wonderfully by Joseph Engel and Sara Montpetit, respectively — Falcon Lake offers unique insight into the complexities of young love. Romantic, touching, and charming the whole way through, Le Bon and her crew also implement an uneasy atmosphere as the primary characters exchange ghost stories. And as competently directed and well-written as Falcon Lake may be, Engel and Montpetit arguably steal the show. Rent on AppleTV

5 The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales… (2017)

Originally planned as a series of TV specials that would run for about 30 minutes, The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales… (2017) was eventually developed as a feature-length, animated anthology film. On top of an epilogue, three stories — all set on a French farm and revolving around animals — are linked by a frame narrative. Each segment was written and directed by two creatives: Benjamin Renner and Patrick Imbert.

A Unique Animation Style

Adapted from Renner’s comic book series The Big Bad Fox, which he also drew, this is his third of four films in total, and they’re all animated. Perhaps his most famous is Ernest & Celestine (2012), which accomplishes a similar, cozy style with its engaging animation and lighthearted story. And while The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales isn’t quite as well-known, it’s easily just as good, with just as unique visuals. Rent on Prime Video

4 Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013)

Based on Jul Maroh’s 2010 graphic novel of the same name, Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013) was directed by Abdellatif Kechiche from a script he co-wrote alongside Galia Lacroix. It stars Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux, with their respective characters named Adèle and Emma. As the plot depicts their relationship from when they meet as teenagers to when they’re young adults, touching themes rise to the surface re: love, isolation, and heartbreak.

A Masterclass in Romance

The two leads exchange memorable dialogue while undergoing palpable development, with the wit of Blue is the Warmest Color being found in its script. Kechiche and Lacroix crafted a compelling story of romance, and the film features engaging visuals — a carefully crafted palette of blue — along with star-making performances from Exarchopoulos and Seydoux. The film won the Palme d’Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, and as a whole, Blue is the Warmest Color holds up wonderfully today. Stream on AMC+

Blue is the Warmest Color

Blue is the Warmest Color

Release Date
October 9, 2013

Director
Abdellatif Kechiche

Cast
Lea Seydoux , Adèle Exarchopoulos , Salim Kechiouche , Aurélien Recoing , Catherine Salée , Benjamin Siksou

Runtime
179

3 Snowpiercer (2013)

Written and directed by Bong Joon-ho, a prominent South Korean filmmaker, Snowpiercer (2013) features dialogue primarily in English. With actors like Song Kang-ho amid the cast, there’s also some Korean thrown in there. And while the character interactions in Snowpiercer remain memorable more than a decade down the line, there’s no denying the true caliber of this adaptation can be found in its brilliant action.

A Globetrotting Spectacle

Aboard the titular train, passengers circumnavigate the globe against an apocalyptic backdrop. After the second ice age, Earth’s survivors are still living amid class divisions. The poorest residents of the train stage a revolt (led by Chris Evans’ Curtis) against the engine room. It’s an inventive premise, with even greater execution — creative sequences of well-choreographed action make Snowpiercer an all-time great adaptation. Stream on Netflix or Hulu

2 The Death of Stalin (2017)

The funniest film adapted from a French comic book is The Death of Stalin (2017), directed by Armando Iannucci. It should frankly be considered among the most uproarious movies ever made, as a star-studded cast works wonderfully with a witty script. Co-written by Iannucci and his two long-time friends, David Schneider and Ian Martin, its plot picks up when Joseph Stalin dies unexpectedly, and a power struggle ensues between the Council of Ministers — the de jure government of the USSR.

Hilarious Mayhem

Satirists like Iannucci touch on controversial subjects to elicit laughter, like political power struggles. And in the case of The Death of Stalin, revealing the ordinary, untidy characters at the heart of the USSR also showcases the absurdity of various political landscapes. Few people would have been able to execute an ambitious project to such perfection, but Iannucci hits all the comedic nails directly on the head. Stream on Hulu

1 Persepolis (2007)

Adapted from Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel of the same name, Persepolis (2007) was written and directed by Satrapi in collaboration with Vincent Paronnaud. Thanks to their witty script and keen direction, this is among the most faithful movies ever adapted from a comic book, with engaging art design highlighting the protagonist’s coming of age during the Iranian Revolution.

Receiving Widespread Acclaim

In spite of a paucity of popularity for American audiences, this is among the highest-rated animated films ever made. On top of its 96% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it also picked up a nomination at the 80th Academy Awards. And despite coming up short, that nod for Best Animated Feature perfectly showcases the quality of this Satrapi adaptation. Though Ratatouille (2007) is an admirable winner, Persepolis is arguably better.

Persepolis

Persepolis

Release Date
June 27, 2007

Director
Vincent Paronnaud , Marjane Satrapi

Cast
Chiara Mastroianni , Catherine Deneuve , Danielle Darrieux , Simon Abkarian , Gabrielle Lopes Benites , François Jerosme

Runtime
95

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