Très Triste! YouTube Film Star Henri, le Chat Noir, Has Died
With scathing ennui, Henri, le Chat Noir, presented a feline existential crisis tangled within the confines of modern life. In December 2020, he took his final curtain call at age 17 after suffering from spine degeneration.
Known offscreen as Henry the rescue cat but immortalized in classic French art film style by narrator Will Braden (aka "the thieving filmmaker"), Henri first lamented his various trials and tribulations in 2007 as Braden's film school project, Henri. Set to the melancholy strains of classical piano, this lovely longhair plundered the depth of his angst.
"My name is Henri. I am a black cat. I live a life of luxury. My caretakers love me. But I feel empty. My filtered water tastes impure. I rarely purr. My thumbs are not opposable, yet I oppose everything."
With his regal bearing and tuxedo markings, Henri's disdainful outlook ("I'm told I'm famous on the internet, but for what? My torment?") and barely concealed contempt regarding interruptions of "his work" (as a frustrated artiste … but of course!) became legendary in subsequent films over the years. From "the white imbecile" (another cat in the Braden family); le vet ("I try to tell the doctor about my growing disillusionment with the world. But he just checks my ears for gunk."); or in L'Haunting, the nonsense of Halloween ("None of these costumes are truly scary. No one ever dresses as crippling self-doubt.").
But offscreen, Henry never forgot his roots. He helped raise money to feed and house rescue cats in the Seattle area, funded by the fame from his two books with Braden (whose mother was Henry's caretaker), Henri, le Chat Noir: The Existential Musings of an Angst-Filled Cat and Henri, le Chat Noir: Reflections on Human Folly from a Feline Philosopher, along with his promotional deal with Friskies and countless personal appearances.
Braden's work will continue to commemorate Henry and other online feline sensations with Cat Video Fest. He posted a touching tribute to the "good-natured and happy cat" who had "little … in common with the angst-filled character he portrayed."
Henri's final performance, Oh, revoir in 2018, announced his retirement. In the typical droll delivery, Braden translated, "I have no need of fame and accolades, just seclusion and the pursuit of truth. Solitude and self-reliance are the only paths to dignity and honor."
"I will begin after the butt scratches."