Film: Amélie - Livre d'Or








Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes. * Blogroll * Strange words * More links * Bookies * Microblog * Recent comments * Humans only * Second degree * By topic * Cool posts * Writing * New post

Tags

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *



livredor
Film: Amélie
Thursday, 25 December 2003 at 06:17 pm
Tags:

Previous Entry Next Entry


Verdict: Amélie is my favourite film in the world ever! It's beautiful, and funny, and adorable.

Circumstances of watching it: Lovely Channel 4 decided to show Amélie on Christmas day. I really wanted to see it again, and luckily lethargic_man hadn't seen it and was keen to, so that was that settled.

Hm, now I need to try to put into words why I love Amélie so much!

I'm not really a film person; in the course of 2003 I watched a grand total of 6 films, and two of them were on TV over Christmas, two of them were in-flight movies, and one of them was when I was staying with darcydodo. Most films make me regret the lack of text; I'm much more verbal than visual, and I get confused easily by all but the most simple films, and I prefer the experience of reading over the experience of watching films generally. But Amélie is a complete exception to this; it doesn't seem like a poor substitute for a book, it seems like a work of art in the best sense, where the medium and content are most happily married.

But being generally a film Philistine, I feel unconfident about discussing a film. I don't know, the first time I saw Amélie when it came out, I felt as if I wanted to hug it, the film as a whole as much as the characters in it. Everything about it is so incredibly cute. I love the almost-surreal scenes, which enhances the feeling that it's set in a slightly alternative world where decent people triumph, even if they have no special talents and no obvious influence. It's almost like fairy-tale logic, but tranposed from Romantic pre-industrial Germany to modern day Paris. And the portrait of Paris in the film is as unrealistic as the fairy-tale view of Olden Times, but it's truly beautiful.

I love the way that Amélie masterminds things from behind the scenes. Even though she is the protagonist, somehow she stays in character as an extremely shy person; it's quite unlike any portrayal of an introvert I can think of in any fiction medium. In a way, it's the old story of small people triumphing, but these small people are genuinely small, they are not people with heroic abilities despite their lowly status, or aided by some great mystical force.

Amélie is also absolutely hilarious. The characters are delightfully silly, but the film is also full of all kinds of jokes, verbal as well as situational. I adore the voice-over done in the style of a really pompous documentary or biopic, but saying things that are just foolish or banal or both. And even though I'd seen the film before, I still enjoyed all the unexpected twists.

I think what really makes the film is the way that, intermingled with all the silliness are genuinely sympathetic characters I cared about. Even though the minor characters especially are caricatures, they are also human beings with real emotions, and I desperately wanted them all to be happy.

Wow, just writing this review has put me into manic grinning mode! Anyone who hasn't seen this film absolutely should.

It was also cool to watch it with P'tite Soeur who is well up on allusions to French culture, and the Thuggish Poet who is good at spotting subtexts and being generally literary, and lethargic_man with whom I could use the film as a springboard for lots of fun discussions about the difference between films and books as media, and why fictional relationships generally fail to resemble real relationships, and other good things.


Moooood: bouncybouncy
Tuuuuune: Fool's Garden: Lemon tree
Discussion: 13 contributions | Contribute something
Tags:

Previous Entry Next Entry




Contribute something
View all comments chronologically



rysmiel: furious angels
From:rysmiel
Date:January 5th, 2004 06:04 pm (UTC)
2 days after journal entry, 02:04 pm (rysmiel's time)
(Link)
Amelie I only managed to see last year; it's been out here forever, but the market in Montreal for French films with English subtitles is basically me, Papersky, and half a dozen Chinese people. I am extremely glad I got to see it for the first time with Papersky, because it is so stunningly beautiful, I really loved it; one of very few examples I can think of where film does something no other medium could.

Have you seen any of Jean-Pierre Jeunet's other work ?
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
livredor: teapot
From:livredor
Date:January 6th, 2004 08:11 pm (UTC)
4 days after journal entry, 09:11 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
the market in Montreal for French films with English subtitles is basically me, Papersky, and half a dozen Chinese people.
Ah, hadn't thought of that. It must make things awkward, indeed.

I am extremely glad I got to see it for the first time with Papersky
Interesting concept. I generally watch films on my own, firstly because if I'm with friends I prefer to rule out just about any activities that exclude talking. And secondly because I'm pretty annoying to watch films with; I never understand what's going on, and if I am with other people, I end up pestering them about all the stuff that confused me afterwards (not during, I have better manners than that, but I suspect I still annoy people).

it is so stunningly beautiful, I really loved it
Yay! *bounce*

one of very few examples I can think of where film does something no other medium could
That's a very interesting point. I'm really bad at appreciating medium, generally; I'm the kind of Philistine that regards everything as a vehicle for a story. I like music that tells a story (this is probably a large part of why I like Romantic stuff more than Classical), and paintings that allow me to imagine a story, and films that tell a story, and, well, I get laughed at by serious literary people for reading novels for the sake of the story. But Amélie is an exception, it made me sit up and take notice of the visual beauty; I think I come close to appreciating it as art in its own right, rather than a way of framing narrative.

Have you seen any of Jean-Pierre Jeunet's other work ?
No, I don't watch enough films to be at the point of seeking out works by directors when I've liked a particular film of theirs. I can never remember names either; I had to go and look up the name of the lead actress, so if there were a film by Jeunet, I'd just as likely not realize who it was and that I should rush to go and see it.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
rysmiel: furious angels
From:rysmiel
Date:January 7th, 2004 03:25 pm (UTC)
4 days after journal entry, 11:25 am (rysmiel's time)
(Link)
I am extremely glad I got to see it for the first time with Papersky
Interesting concept. I generally watch films on my own, firstly because if I'm with friends I prefer to rule out just about any activities that exclude talking. And secondly because I'm pretty annoying to watch films with; I never understand what's going on, and if I am with other people, I end up pestering them about all the stuff that confused me afterwards (not during, I have better manners than that, but I suspect I still annoy people).


Having that sort of discussion afterwards is something I really like; and with something that beautiful and uplifting, it's hard to bear having to wait until someone I care about sees it separately before we can oog together. Papersky went back to see it again the following day, which I could not have done, I was still reeling.

one of very few examples I can think of where film does something no other medium could
That's a very interesting point. I'm really bad at appreciating medium, generally; I'm the kind of Philistine that regards everything as a vehicle for a story. I like music that tells a story (this is probably a large part of why I like Romantic stuff more than Classical), and paintings that allow me to imagine a story, and films that tell a story, and, well, I get laughed at by serious literary people for reading novels for the sake of the story. But Amélie is an exception, it made me sit up and take notice of the visual beauty; I think I come close to appreciating it as art in its own right, rather than a way of framing narrative.


The thing I think Amelie does to perfection, which is something film is best at, though really good comics and theatre can do too, is details at a level of focus which is neither drawn to one's attention nor set aside; being there in the middle to notice. Textual fiction can't do that because a viewpoint has to notice things, whereas in a film, two people can walk by, frex, a trashed van with a section of Eliot's "The Waste Land" graffitoed on the side, and that can have resonances for the reader/viewer that they do not then have to stop and talk about.

Have you seen any of Jean-Pierre Jeunet's other work ?
No, I don't watch enough films to be at the point of seeking out works by directors when I've liked a particular film of theirs.


Jeunet's visual sense and mastery are consistent throughout his work, but the tone of his other two, Delicatessen and The City of Lost Children, is much darker; they are still in the fairy tale mode, but they are fairy tales with creepy elements. He also nominally directed Alien Resurrection but to me his influence there is so diluted I find it hard to consider the film his.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
livredor: mask
From:livredor
Date:January 7th, 2004 04:06 pm (UTC)
4 days after journal entry, 05:06 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
I'm pretty annoying to watch films with; I never understand what's going on, and if I am with other people, I end up pestering them about all the stuff that confused me afterwards

Having that sort of discussion afterwards is something I really like
I definitely like discussing any art (in the broadest sense) that I've viewed; that's a lot of the reason why I caved in regarding LJ in the first place! But I think I need to watch a heap more films on my own before I venture into discussing them except with people I can trust enough to be stupid around.

I seem to make a habit of seeing films with exes shortly after a breakup; I suppose a watching a film seems like a fairly emotionally untaxing thing to do in the circumstances. Except that I miss 3/4 of the point and ask stupid questions, and it ends up with people getting annoyed with me. Yes, I can see the flaw in generalizing from this, but it does tend to reinforce the concept that I'm too clueless to discuss films in any depth.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
livredor: teapot
From:livredor
Date:January 7th, 2004 04:23 pm (UTC)
4 days after journal entry, 05:23 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
with something that beautiful and uplifting, it's hard to bear having to wait until someone I care about sees it separately before we can oog together
Yes, I definitely see what you mean. If I'm excited about something I really want to be able to bounce about it with likeminded (in respect of the particular artform, I mean) friends as soon as possible. Reading books that people have recommended me so that I know there's someone who'll want to discuss them afterwards adds a great deal to the fun of reading generally. Failing that, I get terribly enthusiastic to lend books I like to appropriate friends.

And I generally don't like going to concerts or art galleries / exhibitions on my own. It's also very pleasant to have a handful of people with whom I can bounce about scientific ideas that particularly strike me; colleagues who are tolerant of my enthusiasms up to a point, and pseudomonas especially. Films... I need more confidence, or to watch the same film enough times that I feel I 'get' it, or to talk about it with my mother who is pretty much as clueless as I am about the medium.

Papersky went back to see it again the following day
I want to keep watching Amélie, that's for certain. I'm almost tempted to acquire some means of playback at home just so that I can own a copy of it! I should have gone straight back and watched it again; I know I wanted to, but felt I couldn't really justify the time or money.

which I could not have done, I was still reeling
Both times I've seen it it's taken me several days to stop grinning. The awe didn't kick in till later, I was too busy being happy and bouncy to notice that I was also deeply impressed.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
livredor: letters (thanks to darcydodo)
From:livredor
Date:January 7th, 2004 04:28 pm (UTC)
4 days after journal entry, 05:28 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
The thing I think Amelie does to perfection, which is something film is best at, though really good comics and theatre can do too, is details at a level of focus which is neither drawn to one's attention nor set aside; being there in the middle to notice.
That's a very cool point; I hadn't thought that through, about the difference between text-y versus visual media. The details, the little things that I didn't even realize I was noticing, are absolutely magnificent.

I can't think of a stage play I've seen that works at that level; in a way, theatre is even more viewpoint focussed than fiction. But it's a huge part of the reason why I'm so fond of the Sandman books (which I'm also hesitating to talk about, from lack of confidence with the medium), and The Simpsons. (Did I just put those two in the same sentence? Ummm.)
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
livredor: teapot
From:livredor
Date:January 7th, 2004 04:36 pm (UTC)
4 days after journal entry, 05:36 pm (livredor's time)

(Link)
Jeunet's visual sense and mastery are consistent throughout his work, but the tone of his other two, Delicatessen and The City of Lost Children, is much darker;
*facepalms* Oh, ok, that's the connection! I've been failing for years to understand why people keep going on about Delicatessen when I enthuse about Amélie. I cannot believe I never twigged to that, and I'm very glad that you enlightened me on this one.

I keep accumulating compelling reasons to watch Delicatessen, and I keep not making opportunities because I'm scared that I'll be too squeamish.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
rysmiel: furious angels
From:rysmiel
Date:January 8th, 2004 03:02 pm (UTC)
5 days after journal entry, 11:02 am (rysmiel's time)
(Link)
It depends on what you get squeamed by; there's no explicit nasty violence, there are bits of distinctly creepy atmosphere, lots of implicit creepiness, and one subthread hangs around with someone who keeps failing at increasingly bizarre suicide attempts.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
lethargic_man: default
From:lethargic_man
Date:January 8th, 2004 06:20 pm (UTC)
6 days after journal entry, 07:20 pm (lethargic_man's time)

Delicatessen

(Link)
ObIrrelevant: Rabbi Baddiel is the only person I have ever come across who pronounced this word "delicat-essen" rather than "deli-catessen".

there's no explicit nasty violence

Apart from the first two minutes, which is really quite scary, but if you're watching it other than in a cinema, you don't have to watch that. ;^)

(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
livredor: teeeeeeeeea (thanks to darcydodo)
From:livredor
Date:January 8th, 2004 11:14 pm (UTC)
6 days after journal entry, January 9th, 2004 12:14 am (livredor's time)
(Link)
who pronounced this word "delicat-essen" rather than "deli-catessen"
Ooh, I like that! Is it in fact the original sense of the word? But fun irrelevancy anyway.

there's no explicit nasty violence
Apart from the first two minutes, which is really quite scary
I don't mind if it's scary, just if it's grisly.

but if you're watching it other than in a cinema, you don't have to watch that.
Well, I don't have to watch it even if I am in a cinema. I kept my eyes tightly closed throughout the rape scene (and it's long-ish) in Boys Don't Cry. It still upset me quite a lot, but in a different way from if I'd actually seen the rape. I also don't care in the slightest if I look stupid publicly refusing to watch stuff like that. But if a whole film is full of graphic violence, I might not get much out of it.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
livredor: teapot
From:livredor
Date:January 8th, 2004 11:02 pm (UTC)
6 days after journal entry, January 9th, 2004 12:02 am (livredor's time)
(Link)
It depends on what you get squeamed by
Good verb. I like that.

there's no explicit nasty violence
That's what I'm mainly squeamish about; I can deal with it if it's offscreen but not images, really. I'd also got the impression that Delicatessen was unpleasant in a nasty violence sort of way, but if this is not the case then maybe I'll be brave enough to give it a try.

there are bits of distinctly creepy atmosphere, lots of implicit creepiness
I don't mind creepy or scary, it's mainly gory that bothers me. Thanks for the description, though.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
lethargic_man: default
From:lethargic_man
Date:January 9th, 2004 09:39 am (UTC)
6 days after journal entry, 10:39 am (lethargic_man's time)

Delicatessen

(Link)
There is no gore in Delicatessen whatsoever.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
lethargic_man: default
From:lethargic_man
Date:January 8th, 2004 06:25 pm (UTC)
6 days after journal entry, 07:25 pm (lethargic_man's time)

Alien: Resurrection

(Link)
He also nominally directed Alien Resurrection but to me his influence there is so diluted I find it hard to consider the film his.

I found the humour (which itself was rather unexpected in a film in the Alien series) was very much in the same vein as in Delicatessen and The City of Lost Children; but maybe that was due to his co-director, Marc Caro, who I don't think was involved in Amélie.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)



Contribute something
View all comments chronologically