I found this waaaaaaaaay harder than the essays and i really really really hope i get a good grade on it. I'm pretty pleased with it and the film that i chose to do really was blooming fantastic!
here it is:
Nous Aimons Amelie!
Living in a postcard perfect vision of Paris in the mid-nineties, Amelie Poulain stumbles upon the hidden childhood mementoes of a man who once lived in her apartment. A fixation with returning this man’s treasures to him grows and the benefits of her selflessness are demonstrated at the end of the film. Amelie gets a taste for random acts of kindness and sets about tidying up the lives of those around her. She plays match-maker to regulars at the café where she shyly works as waitress as well as helping a blind man around the city; describing everything so vividly that this gentleman can “see” what she speaks of. The audience follows the pair as the camera trails their movement so as they too are being led around the city, seeing through new eyes the city which Amelie has loved her whole life.
When posed with the question of whether there was in fact a shadier side to the eccentric affection of the oddball characters in his film, director, Jean-Pierre Jeunet simply stated, “Seven million people in France went to see it and we received five hundred thousand letters and e-mails, and I can tell you they are happy.” The fanciful portrayal of Parisian people and their lives is delightfully reflected by the film’s warmly saturated lighting. As every smile, garden and ray of sun are swathed in rich colour; they appear a little more loving, a little more picturesque and just that tad brighter and warmer. However, Amelie’s lonely apartment is often shown in rather dull light, perhaps mirroring the lack of positivity that she has from being alone. Similarly, traditional French music played on an accordion is used throughout, always of a dainty, melodic nature, save from when Amelie is secluded in her apartment when a rather more solemn leitmotif is used. By manipulating the lighting and sound in such a way, Jean-Pierre Jeunet ensures that the audience are aware and understanding of the matter that Amelie’s contentment is feigned and she would prefer to be sharing her time with people, if only she could curry up enough self-belief to do so. The use of French music also contributes to the authenticity of this Paris-set French film.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet received criticism from French film reviewers for his fantastical interpretation of Paris. As many contemporary French directors favour gritty realism for the city of Paris, such a film style has become more fashionable and popular meaning that this portrayal was seen to be the work of a dreamer, misrepresenting Paris as being perfect rather than acknowledging the city’s flaws. However, when collaborating with co-writer Guillaume Laurant, Jean-Pierre Jeunet put a lot of himself and his quirks into both the character of Amelie and the film’s setting so as his dream vision of Paris was what Amelie saw her home city as in this film.
Having watched the hectic opening ten minutes through the eyes of Amelie the child, the audience have been acquainted with Amelie’s childlike demeanour. The audience are given literal snap-shot, sneak peeks into her childhood as images are tossed, juddering, over the screen as though photographs are being taken. This enables them to treat her kooks and quaint habits including the simple pleasure of turning around in a theatre, just to see the expressions of the members of the audience in a forgiving manner as an innocent affectation of her character. Audrey Tautou, Amelie, whispers her love of such a thing directly into the camera, immediately painting the secretive nature of Amelie and allowing her to engage intimately with her audience.
Amelie offers as many hilarious, mischievous antics as she does good deeds and such events are made all the more entertaining as the audience can see that her acts are far from spiteful having lived through her strained childhood with her. Amelie grew up with her overprotective father, who, convinced that his young daughter had a heart defect, withdrew her from school and educated her at home instead. Although her tragic childhood could have been shown as more horrific, the script-writers have maintained a carefree light-hearted essence to the film by including a fairly, for want of a better phrase; darkly comical way for her mother to be killed, escaping sadness by employing humour just as Amelie has throughout her life. So many years of isolation left her with, somewhat endearingly; the naivety of a child when it came to putting her own life together. Amelie keeps the audience onside as she seeks revenge through naughty practical jokes, especially on her judgemental green grocer.
The magic realism created in this film was envisaged by the director and then lived through his protagonist, Amelie, who had retreated into her imagination to cope with the pressures she faced when growing up. As she held onto her childish defences, the audience are shown her mind’s ramblings through the use of CGI. This allows for the cartoony and enchanting childlike daydreams of Amelie to be shown very clearly to her audience. When faced with one particularly stressful moment, Amelie sees herself dissolve into nothing more than a puddle of water upon the floor, creating a visual metaphor for her emotions; depicting just how fragile Amelie is as she falls apart so easily.
To accentuate her untainted vulnerability a narrative voice is employed to fondly speak Amelie’s life aloud; almost as though reading a bed time story, especially since this film does hold a spark of fairytale magic, turning Amelie into the princess locked up in the tower away from most life. It is easy to fall in love with someone who bears an artless, optimism for life and who can gain pleasure from such simple indulgences; this is exactly what Nino does when he first spies Amelie at a train station whilst pandering to his own pass time of piecing together torn and discarded passport photographs. In the real world, would a damsel in distress really been found by Prince Charming so easily? Nope, but thankfully, this is not real life! Magic realism suits this fantastical love story so completely.
So, can Nino lend Amelie a hand in neatening up her current situation a little?
Of course he can; this is a romantic comedy after all and such a genre is not famous for its harrowing depiction of loves lived and then lost. Forgetting its slight predictability, this charming piece of cinematography does offer cute exchanges between some of the more minor characters which contribute to intricate subplots; notably to green-grocer’s assistant, Lucien, and “The Glass Man”. These subplots mean that the audience are really able to feel as Amelie feels for those she decides to help out.
Although Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s day-dream’s weren’t kindly welcomed by French film buffs, the style struck a chord with an incredible amount of independent viewers and even had a strong influence on the ABC comedy drama Pushing Daisies which has been a massive hit. I dare anyone watching this film to not smile! This is a film about living life in the moment and as fully and vibrantly as you can. It is engaging, uplifting and so inspiring; you can’t help but feel the need to grab life and just live it, brightening the lives of some others along the way.
After all, who doesn’t want to find their very own fairytale happy ending?any good?
Peace and love