26 December 2011

Amélie (2001)

Amelie, a young naive woman, randomly decides to perform kind acts to those around her. In doing so, she finds love. She had an unusual childhood after being misdiagnosed with an unknown heart condition. Because of this heart condition, Amelie was not able to attend school with other children, and was forced to rely on her imagination for entertainment. Amelie was close with her mother until she died in a disturbing accident. The loss of her mother caused an adjustment in the relationship with her distant father, Raphael.

Amelie realizes that life can be taken in an instant and that is what triggers her desire to help others. At the diner, where Amelie works, she brings together two lonely people, Georgette and Joseph. Georgette is a tobacconist with a brutal case of hypochondria, and Joseph is a grumpy customer at the diner where both Amelie and Georgette work. Amelie then stumbles upon a box of treasures, stuffed behind a wall tile in her bathroom, left by a young boy, years ago. She feels compelled to return it and in doing so brings joy to the owner, Mr. Bretodeau. Amelie continues with her acts of kindness by befriending her neighbor, Dufayel, that lives in the same apartment complex. Dufayel is an elderly artist with brittle bones that occurred as a result of a rare disease. So brittle that everything must be padded in order to protect him. She also helps Madeleine Walls, the concierge in her apartment complex, by sending letters posing as the deceased husband. This helps Ms. Walls to believe that her husband still loved her and wanted to return to her after fleeing with a secretary that he had an affair with. The last person on Amelie’s kind acts list is Nino, an adult video store clerk who collects pictures left behind at photo booths around Paris. Amelie returns his scrapbook of the left behind pictures and they end up falling in love. Pranks are made on those who are unkind to others, which adds a little comedy to the dramatic romance film.

Cinematography is motion picture photography. The basic unit of cinematography is the shot. The shot is the visual heart of the cinema; it is a continuous point of view (or continuously exposed piece of film); it may move forward or backward, up or down, but it does not change, break, or cut to another point of view or image.

A shot that really stood out to me in Amelie was in the scene where Amelie finds the memory box left behind by Mr. Bretodeau when he was a child. The scene starts out showing Amelie in the bathroom, and the news is on in the background. The news anchor reports a story that changes Amelie’s life forever. Lady Di, Princess of Wales has died in a car accident. Amelie is in such shock that she drops the cap to the perfume bottle that she is holding. The cap hits the bottom wall tile that lines the floor and it breaks off of the wall. Amelie pulls off the tile completely and the shot instantly switches to the memory box point of view inside the wall. This shot from inside the wall is so unique. I loved seeing Amelie’s face in the light at what seemed like a dark tunnel with the inside looking like concrete with sharp edges. The camera stays on this scene as she shows her face noticing the box and even when she reaches her hand in to retrieve the box.

Another scene that had captured my attention was the scene after meeting the grocer and his worker, Lucien. Amelie went to Collignon, the grocer, to see if he would be any help in her quest to find the owner of the memory box. He had no clue but advised her to see his mother. The scene then switches, and we see Amelie walking up a hill to meet with Mr. and Mrs. Collignon at their home. The scene starts at a high point of view with a long shot of Amelie that starts to come down and show her whole body from a lower angle. There is a small pile of concrete and rocks on the low left of the screen that the camera eventually sits behind. Amelie comes close to the camera, grabs a few skipping rocks from the pile, and heads for the door. However, the camera continues to stay behind the pile of construction until the scene skips to Amelie talking to Mr. Collignon. I enjoyed this scene because there was more in the picture than just a person walking. We had beautiful scenery to look at along with the construction and house that she was approaching.

These two scenes/ shots are not the only ones that caught my eye. I highly recommend this “feel-good movie” to all, as long as reading subtitles is not an issue. The comedic parts add a little extra to the film which makes me give it two thumbs up.

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