In 2001, Jean-Pierre Jeunet directed the romantic comedy, “Amelie,” which he’d written along with Guillaume Laurant. Amelie is an excellent illustration of several uses of film techniques. Not only that, but it is a great film to breakdown and show fragments of, including but not limited to its form, content, central themes, and cinematic language and techniques. This storyline also holds multiple implicit and explicit meanings. The content of Amelie is just that. Amelie is the focus of the film.
She is the protagonist and her own antagonist at times as well. Jeunet uses editing to his advantage in this movie by including various close-ups and shots that dolly in. One of the central themes of the picture is Audrey Tautou (portraying Amelie), putting in her absolute best effort to enhance the lives of those around her, while making it look effortless. Although she is dealing with an intense amount of isolation, in her childhood it was how her life played out and as she matured, almost more of a self-seclusion situation.Order now
In the first few moments of the flick, the audience becomes acquainted with the element of Amelie’s mother missing from the picture, due to a freak accident. She has a pet fish, which she perceives as a type of friend, gets released. She is surrounded by a small circle of individuals close to her, they don’t completely understand her. Amelie is alone. The only life that Amelie knows is a life of loneliness, and this is something that she carries on with her. There is a scene in the film where Amelie is in a subway train station.
The director uses sounds from an old record player, which is held by a homeless man, and the echoes of footsteps to set the mood for the moment. Bringing up the central theme of Amelie improving the lives of others, she places a few coins in the homeless man’s tin can. Amelie drops an object onto the ground which rolls over to a gentleman down the corridor, causing her to have an hallucination from her childhood. She knows this man, but after a swift moment between the two of them, she darts off. Amelie is detaching herself.
This subway scene in the film, might actually hold an underlying implicit meaning in the storyline. Multiple significant figures in Amelie’s life have left her, which might have left her with a fear of other people. Not because of torment, or prior bad experiences, but because of a possible underlying fear of abandonment. Which is ironic, since as a young girl, Amelie’s parents, who were convinced that she had a rare heart defect, helped fuel her post-adolescent self-isolation by preventing her from discovering other children, adults, and in essence the world around her.
Something that might have also fueled the idea of Amelie’s self-isolation, could be her father’s withdrawal from society after her mother’s death. Amelie is a product of her past. The emphasis of the film is about Amelie devoting her life to convey happiness to others. Audrey Tautou does a superb job of masking the implicit meaning in which Amelie uses that euphoric feeling of contentment to almost suppress her inner feelings of sorrow, disconnection, and isolation. A scene that really does an exceptional job of screaming out this meaning is when Amelie is observing Mr.
Dufayel painting, where some of her bottled-up feelings finally begin to surface. She starts to realize that she is falling for the man in the subway scene. By this point, another central theme of Amelie’s story begins to arise: while bringing happiness to the lives others, she is on the path to finally discovering her own. An additional major element of this film, is Jeunet’s use of cinematic language. The use of mise-en-scene in certain shots is absolutely phenomenal.
The people that helped to mold Amelie, at times appear as if they could be beings that one would find lurking in a fun house. This could factor into Amelie’s feelings of disconnection from the real world. The dark lighting and sound in the film, particularly towards the opening, especially help to show the disposition and spirits of the main character. The fact that Amelie met critical acclaim and was such a grand slam in the box office is no bombshell. Jean Pierre Jeunet and Guillaume Laurant story of “The Fabulous Destiny of Amelie Poulain” truly is a cinematic work of art.