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From what I recall, a girl who is about twenty years old finds herself in a strange and gloomy stop-frame animated city. A very distinct scene, which should identify the film, involves the girl being captured by a creature described as follows. It was like the walking skeleton of a long four-legged creature about the size of a bus. Apparently the girl broke some rule and this creature clamped it's ribcage around her and trotted her off to jail.

If I had to guess a year, it would be between 1996 and 2006.

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This sounds very much like MirrorMask, a wonderful movie. It isn't French or Eastern European, but it does have some bohemian style to it (a bit like The City of Lost Children). So it's not surprising that you might recall the movie like that.

The creature is actually a compilation of several creatures, with the ability to use their stilt-caterpillar shape as a walking prison.

Here are some pictures to jog your memory: enter image description here

The visual style was very distinctive, and I'm pretty certain this is the one you are thinking of.

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It might be worth mentioning that MirrorMask is based on a Neil Gaiman story. –  coleopterist Sep 2 '13 at 6:21
    
Indeed, Neil is also a solid influence on the movie itself, and numerous of his drawings and sketches can be seen. :] –  Nils Munch Sep 2 '13 at 13:40

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