French theatrical poster
|Directed by||Jean-Pierre Jeunet|
|Produced by||Jean-Marc Deschamps
|Written by||Guillaume Laurant|
|Story by||Guillaume Laurant
|Narrated by||André Dussollier|
|Music by||Yann Tiersen|
|Editing by||Hervé Schneid|
|Studio||UGC Fox Distribution
France 3 Cinéma
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox (France)
Miramax Films (US)
|Running time||123 minutes|
Amélie (French: Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain (French pronunciation: [lə.fa.by.lø.dɛs.tɛ̃.da.me.li.puˈlɛ̃]); The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain) is a 2001 romantic comedy film directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Written by Jeunet with Guillaume Laurant, the film is a whimsical depiction of contemporary Parisian life, set in Montmartre. It tells the story of a shy waitress, played by Audrey Tautou, who decides to change the lives of those around her for the better, while struggling with her own isolation. The film was an international co-production between companies in France and Germany. Grossing over $33 million in limited theatrical release, it is still the highest-grossing French-language film released in the United States.
The film met with critical acclaim and was a major box-office success. Amélie won Best Film at the European Film Awards; it won four César Awards (including Best Film and Best Director), two BAFTA Awards (including Best Original Screenplay), and was nominated for five Academy Awards. A Broadway adaptation is in development.
Amélie Poulain was raised by eccentric parents who — believing erroneously that she had a heart defect — prevented her from meeting other children. She was home schooled by her mother. She developed an active imagination and fantasy life to cope with her loneliness. After her mother is killed due to a freak accident, her father's withdrawal from society worsens. Amélie eventually decides to leave home and becomes a waitress at Café des 2 Moulins in Montmartre, which is staffed and frequented by a collection of eccentrics. Spurning romantic relationships after a few disappointing efforts, she finds contentment in simple pleasures and letting her imagination roam free.
On 31 August 1997, Amélie is startled by the news of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, causing her to drop a glass perfume stopper which in turn dislodges a loose bathroom tile. Behind the tile she finds an old metal box of childhood memorabilia hidden by a boy who lived in her apartment decades earlier. She resolves to track down the boy and return the box to him, and promises herself that if she finds him and it makes him happy, she will devote her life to bringing happiness to others and helping others as much as she can.
She asks Mrs. Wells, the concierge, about the boy. Wells redirects her to the abusive greengrocer, Mr. Collignon, who redirects Amélie to his mother. Mrs. Collignon remembers the name "Dominique Bredoteau", but Amélie has no success finding the owner of the box. Amélie meets her reclusive neighbour, Raymond Dufayel, an artist who repaints Luncheon of the Boating Party by Pierre-Auguste Renoir every year. He remembers the boy also, but correctly recalls the name as "Bretodeau". Amélie quickly finds the man and surreptitiously passes him the box. Moved to tears by the discovery and the memories it holds, Bretodeau resolves to reconcile with his estranged daughter and the grandson he has never met. Amélie happily embarks on her new mission.
Amélie secretly executes complex schemes that affect the lives of those around her. She escorts a blind man to the Métro station, giving him a rich description of the street scenes he passes. She persuades her father to follow his dream of touring the world by stealing his garden gnome and having a flight attendant friend airmail pictures of it posing with landmarks from all over the world. She kindles a romance between a middle-aged co-worker and one of the customers in the bar. She convinces Mrs. Wells that the husband who abandoned her had sent her a final conciliatory love letter just before his accidental death years before. She avenges Lucien, Mr. Collignon's meek amputee assistant and the target of his abuse, by playing practical jokes on Collignon until his arrogance is deflated.
While she is looking after others, Mr. Dufayel is observing her. He begins a conversation with her about his painting, a replicate of Luncheon of the Boating Party by Renoir. Although he has copied the same painting 20 times, he has never quite captured the look of the girl drinking a glass of water. They discuss the meaning of this character, and over several conversations Amélie begins projecting her loneliness on to the image. Dufayel recognizes this, and uses the girl in the painting to push Amélie to examine her attraction to a quirky young man who collects the discarded photographs of strangers from passport photo booths. When Amélie bumps into the young man a second time, she realizes she is falling in love with him. He accidentally drops a photo album in the street. Amélie retrieves it. She discovers his name is Nino Quincampoix, and she plays a cat and mouse game with him around Paris before returning his treasured album anonymously. After orchestrating a proper meeting at the 2 Moulins, she is too shy to approach him and tries to deny her identity. Her co-worker, concerned for Amélie's well-being, screens Nino for her; a café patron's comment about this misleads Amélie to believe she has lost Nino to the co-worker. It takes Dufayel's insight to give her the courage to pursue Nino, resulting in a romantic night together and the beginning of a relationship.
- Audrey Tautou as Amélie Poulain
- Mathieu Kassovitz as Nino Quincampoix
- André Dussollier as Narrator
- Flora Guiet as Young Amélie
- Amaury Babault as Young Nino
- Rufus as Raphaël Poulain, Amélie's father
- Serge Merlin as Raymond Dufayel, "The Glass Man"
- Lorella Cravotta as Amandine Poulain, Amélie's mother
- Clotilde Mollet as Gina, a fellow waitress
- Claire Maurier as Suzanne, the owner of Café des deux moulins
- Isabelle Nanty as Georgette, the resident hypochondriac
- Dominique Pinon as Joseph
- Artus de Penguern as Hipolito, the writer
- Yolande Moreau as Madeleine Wells
- Urbain Cancelier as Collignon, the grocer
- Jamel Debbouze as Lucien, the grocer's assistant
- Maurice Bénichou as Dominique Bretodeau
- Kevin Fernandes as young Dominique
- Michel Robin as Mr. Collignon
- Andrée Damant as Mrs. Collignon
- Claude Perron as Eva, Nino's colleague
- Armelle Lesniak as Philomène, air hostess
- Ticky Holgado as Man in a photo
- Franck-Olivier Bonnet : Voice over
- Alain Floret : Voice over
- Jean-Pol Brissart : Voice over
- Frédéric Mitterrand : Voice over
|This section requires expansion. (June 2008)|
In his DVD commentary, Jeunet explains that he originally wrote the role of Amélie for the English actress Emily Watson; in the original draft, Amélie's father was an Englishman living in London. However, Watson's French was not strong, and when she became unavailable to shoot the film, owing to a conflict with the filming of Gosford Park, Jeunet rewrote the screenplay for a French actress. Audrey Tautou was the first actress he auditioned having seen her on the poster for Venus Beauty Institute.
The filmmakers made use of computer-generated imagery and a digital intermediate. The studio scenes were filmed in the Coloneum Studio in Cologne (Germany). The film shares many of the themes in the plot with second half of the 1994 film Chungking Express.
The film was released in France, Belgium, and French-speaking western Switzerland in April 2001, with subsequent screenings at various film festivals followed by releases around the world. It received limited releases in North America, the UK and Australasia later in 2001.
Cannes Film Festival selector Gilles Jacob described Amélie as "uninteresting", and therefore it was not screened at the festival, although the version he viewed was an early cut without music. The absence of Amélie at the festival caused something of a controversy because of the warm welcome by the French media and audience in contrast with the reaction of the selector.
The film has divided many critics. According to Rotten Tomatoes 90% of critics liked the film, while its Metacritic score of 69 (indicating lukewarm reviews) has incredibly high variance including four perfect scores of 100 and four scores of 40 or below.
Alan Morrison from Empire Online gave Amélie five stars and called it "one of the year’s best, with crossover potential along the lines of Cyrano De Bergerac and Il Postino. Given its quirky heart, it might well surpass them all."
Paul Tatara from CNN Reviewer praised Amélie's playful nature. In his review, he wrote, "Its whimsical, free-ranging nature is often enchanting; the first hour, in particular, is brimming with amiable, sardonic laughs."
The film was attacked by critic Serge Kaganski of Les Inrockuptibles for an unrealistic and picturesque vision of a bygone French society with few ethnic minorities. Jeunet dismissed the criticism by pointing out that the photo collection contains pictures of people from numerous ethnic backgrounds, and that Jamel Debbouze, who plays Lucien, is of Moroccan descent.
Awards and honors
- Best Art Direction – Aline Bonetto (art director), Marie-Laure Valla (set decorator) (lost to Moulin Rouge!)
- Best Cinematography – Bruno Delbonnel (lost to The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring)
- Best Foreign Language Film – France (lost to No Man's Land)
- Best Original Screenplay – Guillaume Laurant, Jean-Pierre Jeunet (lost to Gosford Park)
- Best Sound – Vincent Arnardi, Guillaume Leriche, Jean Umansky (lost to Black Hawk Down)
In 2001 it won several awards at the European Film Awards, including the Best Film award. It also won the People's Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival and the Crystal Globe Award at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. In 2002, in France, it won the César Award for Best Film, Best Director, Best Music and Best Production Design. It was also awarded the French Syndicate of Cinema Critics's Prix Mélies (Best French Film) in the same year.
The film was selected by The New York Times as one of "The Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made". The film placed No. 2 in Empire magazine's "The 100 Best Films of World Cinema". Paste magazine ranked it second on its list of the 50 Best Movies of the Decade (2000–2009). Entertainment Weekly named the film poster one of the best on its list of the top 25 film posters in the past 25 years. It also named Amélie setting up a wild goose chase for her beloved Nino all through Paris as No. 9 on its list of top 25 Romantic Gestures. In 2010, an online public poll by the American Cinematographer – the house journal of the American Society of Cinematographers – named Amélie the best shot film of the decade.
The soundtrack to Amélie was composed by Yann Tiersen.
On 23 August 2013 composer Dan Messe, one of the founders and members of the band Hem, confirmed speculation that he would be writing the score for a musical adaptation of Amelie to premiere on Broadway. He will be collaborating with Craig Lucas and Nathan Tysen. Messe also confirmed he would be composing all original music for the show and not using the Yann Tiersen score.
For the 2007 television show Pushing Daisies, a "quirky fairy tale", American Broadcasting Company (ABC) sought an Amélie feel, with the same chords of "whimsy and spirit and magic". Pushing Daisies director Bryan Fuller said Amélie is his favorite film. "All the things I love are represented in that movie," he said. "It's a movie that will make me cry based on kindness as opposed to sadness." The New York Times' review of Pushing Daisies reported "the 'Amélie' influence on 'Pushing Daisies' is everywhere".
In the 2009 film Bunny and the Bull, the scenes set in the real world of Stephen's flat have the same red, green and gold feel of Amelie's interiors. Additionally, the opening credits are similar to Delicatessen, an earlier film of Amélie's director Jean-Pierre Jeunet.
A species of frog was named Cochranella amelie. The scientist who named it said: "this new species of Glass frog is for Amélie, protagonist of the extraordinary movie "Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain"; a film where little details play an important role in the achievement of joie de vivre; like the important role that Glassfrogs and all amphibians and reptiles play in the health of our planet". The species was described in the scientific journal Zootaxa in an article entitled "An enigmatic new species of Glassfrog (Amphibia: Anura: Centrolenidae) from the Amazonian Andean slopes of Ecuador"
The girl's name Amelie soared in popularity after the release of the film.
The film has no overall worldwide distributor, but Blu-ray discs have been released in Canada and Australia. The first release occurred in Canada in September 2008 by TVA Films. This version did not contain any English subtitles and received criticisms regarding picture quality. In November 2009, an Australian release occurred. This time the version contained English subtitles and features no region coding. Momentum Pictures released a Blu-ray in the UK on 17 October 2011. The film is also available on HD on iTunes and other digital download services.
- Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain, Le at the Internet Movie Database
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- "Amélie (2001)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved 2011-09-25.
- "Foreign Language Movies at the Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2014-01-25.
- "'Amelie' Set to be Adapted for Broadway". Broadway Tour. 26 August 2013.
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- "Empire's Amelie Movie Review". Empireonline.com. Retrieved 2014-01-25.
- "Review: 'Amelie' is imaginative". CNN. 7 November 2001.
- "The Amélie Effect". Filmlinc.com. Retrieved 2011-09-21.
- "The 74th Academy Awards (2002) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-11-19.
- "The Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made". The New York Times. 29 April 2003. Retrieved 2010-04-23.
- "The 50 Best Movies of the Decade (2000–2009)". Paste Magazine. 3 November 2009. Retrieved 2011-12-14.
- "Movies: 25 New Classic Posters". Entertainment Weekly. 27 June 2008. Retrieved 2010-04-28.
- "New Classics: Romantic Gestures". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2010-04-28.
- "Was Amélie Really the Best-Shot Film of the Last Decade?". movieline.com. 29 June 2010. Archived from the original on 2010-07-01. Retrieved 2010-06-05.
- "BBC News - Amelie musical to be made for Broadway". Bbc.co.uk. 2013-08-23. Retrieved 2014-01-25.
- August 23, 2013, 9: 58 AM (2013-08-23). ""Amelie" becoming a Broadway musical". CBS News. Retrieved 2014-01-25.
- Richford, Rhonda (2013-08-28). "'Amelie' Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet 'Disgusted' by Musical". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2014-01-25.
- Bill Carter (5 July 2007). "A Touching Romance, if They Just Don't Touch". The New York Times.
- "zt01572p082.pdf" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-04-28.
- mp. "Zootaxa; a mega-journal for zoological taxonomists". Mapress.com. Retrieved 2014-01-25.
- "Baby name trends in England & Wales since 1996".
- "Amelie Blu-ray (Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain) (2001)". Blu-ray.com. Retrieved 2010-04-28.
- "Amelie Blu-ray (Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain) (2001)". Blu-ray.com. Archived from the original on 2010-04-14. Retrieved 2010-04-28.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Amélie|
- Official website
- Amélie at the Internet Movie Database
- Amélie at AllMovie
- Amélie at Box Office Mojo
- Amélie at Rotten Tomatoes
- Jean Pierre Jeunet discusses the film
- Filming locations at the Movieloci.com
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