The Fantasy of Reality: Amélie

By: Khamylle Anne Mendoza

                   Incorporated with realism, the paper deliberates the aesthetic encounters of Amélie rendering her life through an idealized approach rather than a systematic methodology. The film clearly represents the norms in Paris back then—how people socialize, respect, and give importance to human relationships. Be that as it may, the paper strives to annotate and appreciate the link between the theory of realism and the cinema industry—integrating the traditional and contemporary strategies.

                   Amélie is a romantic comedy film directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet on 2001, having Audrey Tautou as Amélie Poulain, Mathieu Kassovitz as Nino Quincampoix, Rufus as Raphael Poulain, and Lorella Cravotta as Amandine Poulain, Serge Merlin as Raymond Dufayel, Jamel Debbouze as Lucien, Clotlide Mollet as Gina, Claire Maurier as Madame Suzanne, Isabelle Nanty as Georgette, Dominique Pinon as Joseph, Artus de Penguern as Hipolito, and Yolande Moreau as Madeleine Wallace. Amélie is the daughter of Doctor Raphael and Teacher Amandine. In the film, Dr. Raphael is an apathetic and aloof kind of father; he never reached out to Amélie except during her monthly medical checkup. Several months passed when Doctor Raphael pulled off that Amélie has a serious heart complications, not knowing that the only thing that makes Amélie heart beats faster than usual is because of her father’s treatment towards her. Since then, Doctor Raphael decided to abstain Amélie from socializing. Thus, Amélie tends to just stay at home. Amélie, at the very young age, learned how to entertain herself alone—playing with her creativity in mind and imagining impossible things. Everything went good until Amandine faced a disastrous incident with a suicidal tourist trying to vault from the top of the building. From then, considering that the remaining person in her life was her father, Amélie started to receive even less parental guidance. But as she grows old, she had a chance to work in Montmartre, a cafe in Paris. Striving to be an independent woman, Amélie practices to take life as simple as possible. Amélie wanted to inspire other people, to know more about life than the four corners of their home; she is completely hungry of all the things she should have known decades ago. Further, as Amélie watches a news report regarding Princess Diana’s death, Amélie unexpectedly discovered a secret wall in her bathroom wherein she found a small box. As Amélie opens it, she saw a lot of stuff such as pictures and toys that seem to be sentimental to the owner. Amélie, promoting kindness and trying her best to be a good role model to other people, decides to find the owner so she can return the box. At first, Amélie asked Colingions who have actually stayed in her flat long time ago and fortunately, they gave her a potential name of the owner—Domonique Bredoteau. Amélie then started looking for some Bredoteau’s in the city but she could not even find one until her neighbor named Dufayel provides her the correct spelling of the surname she has been looking for: Bretodeau. Luckily, Amélie found them. She returned the box to the owner, and right after she handed it, she saw a genuine gleam of gratefulness coming from the face of the owner, as he suddenly reminisce his childhood collected in a box. One day at a train station, Amélie saw Nino Quincampoix (Matthieu Kassovitz), a peculiar man who loves reconstructing torn-up images found on photo booths. Nino and Amélie have the same childhood experiences, they long to have friends, they long to have a more enjoyable life, a wider world, a smoother place to move, and a fresher air to breathe… to breathe from the usual. When Amélie saw Nino at the very first time, she witnessed how Nino accidentally dropped his photo album, and so Amélie tried to look for it, and she found it! Amélie, of course, decided to give him back the album knowing the fact that a part of her wants to know Nino more. Afterwards, Amélie went to Nino’s workplace, and the moment Nino saw Amélie, he knew that there is truly something special about her, and he wants to meet Amélie as well. From then, Nino tried his best to communicate with Amélie where most of the time he goes to the cafe where Amélie works, but Amélie is just quite shy to entertain him at some point. However, a friend of Amélie confronted Nino about his intentions, and upon talking to him, Amélie’s friend saw how pure Nino’s intentions are; that’s he is a good man who is responsible enough to take good care of Amélie. But after the confrontation, the ex-boyfriend of Amélie’s friend named Josef, made up a story that Gina (the friend) and Nino are actually having an affair. Amélie heard about it, and she was quite hurt. Downhearted Amélie started to be uncertain, and she almost hated Nino. But while having an emotional breakdown, Emily heard someone’s outside. Amélie actually heard Nino explaining things to her from the hall of her apartment, but she refused to respond. Since Nino thought Amélie is not home at all, he just intendedly put a note on her door instead, saying that he will definitely come back and still be chasing Amélie. Confused Amélie then found a videotape from Dufayel, when she played it she was totally out of words from what it contains, and was just actually crying the whole time she was watching the videotape. It is because on that video, Dufayel encouraged Amélie to follow her heart, to keep chasing her dreams, to not be afraid to take opportunities, to learn how to genuinely love, and experience to be loved. After watching, Amélie realized she loves Nino and she is willing to take risks for him. She went out from her flat, and she unexpectedly saw Nino standing at the front of her door, and was actually waiting for her. Nino and Amélie talked, which later steered them to get into a relationship.

                   Given that kind of approach of the film, the theory of realism was indeed adapted. Realism suggests ultramodern manner in terms of cinema. The first people who totally brought realism into the scene was particularly Siegfried Kracauer and Andre Bazin who, at the same time, promoted the modern mediate reproduction of physical reality. With the application of realism in Amélie, it is indeed true that photography has a life and relationship to human, and that photographs embalm time (Hughes & Trevorrow, 2018; Jurgess, 2017). Hence, it traces moments, events, and happenings from the past decades. In fact, authenticity or having a more realistic theme on a particular film is not only applicable on the metier of cinema; it is advantageous to journalism as well. From the year 1885 until 1910, newspaper journalists were struggling to establish a more complex approach for them to accumulate larger number of readers (Andrew & Neath, 2018). A year after, journalists started to adapt the olden photographers’ typical mode of expression that aims to maintain the “real thing” and “authentic condition” of every story (Tucher, 2017). One of the most intriguing parallel cases was contrived by William Randolph Hearst several decades ago. Hearst applied the concept of a “story mode” into his New York Journal which is now being called as “yellow papers”. As a result of Hearst’s concept, great quantities of reader spoke highly about the notion he applied to make his story and articles noteworthy and appealing to people (Schudson, 1978). By then, the inception of realism which is originally acquired from film started to inaugurate in various fields as well (Connery, 2011).

                   In this section, the paper will discuss more about the visual world populated by coloured objects. In the movie, there were fields, skies, animals, historical buildings, and other establishments which could definitely feel like the viewers are present in the setting—all with the help of colours (Mandušić, 2014). It actually make colours one of the most significant components in the world of cinema since they are being used to identify and re-identify particular objects. Apart from evoking emotions to viewers, colours could even give a different perspective to people, to the environment, and to the physical world per se (Hsu & Hsiang, 2018; Lv, Hu, Ouyang, Fu, Sun, & Zhang, 2013). Accordingly, on the first part of the film, viewers could already notice the use of warm colours such as light green, yellow, pink—colours that are truly pleasing to the eye which is, at the same time, suitable since the story revolves around the fellow feeling of the playful characters, and of course, considering chosen locale and environment of the scene, using pleasing colours is truly effective (Stevens, 2016). There are also scenes where retro-like and neon colours were used and successfully established. Frankly speaking, while these aspects were being exhibited, a playful music goes along—it matches the portrayal of the casts and the emotions they are trying to evoke on the audiences. Thus, colours signify a different story; it communicates. It shows the characters’ journey all throughout the film. In the beginning of the movie, a shade of yellow was visible enough to divulge a hopeful mood, optimism, and enlightenment. Apart from that, it also signifies high and positive energy that fits the personality of Amélie. Along with the colour yellow was colour blue. In visual communication, colour blue carries calming effect as well as loyalty which allude to Amélie’s intimate propinquity with Nino. These techniques in colour schemes truly affect the audiences’ feelings while watching without even noticing it. Through the effectiveness of such applications in the cinema, the facets of developed schemes easily reached a larger range of artists (Cubitt, 2009). However, considering that as one of the significant components to contemplate upon, centenarian literary begetters presume that some artists intentionally refuse to apply such aesthetics since there are circumstances that technical features of films could never be compatible with the disposition of some artists’ endeavor (Sadjadi, 2018). Those aspects mentioned above were most probably adapted from Bazin’s principle that a total cinema can be achieved through depicting a realistic situation combined with genuine emotions and authentic reactions. Similar thing goes with Jeunet adapting some excerpts from Prakash Younger entitled, “Offscreen”, wherein Younger manifests the ethical and moral standards of human. And although the essay promotes ideological methodologies, it somehow displays the conjunction between “pseudo-realism” and “true reality”. “Pseudo-realism” is said to be the feeling of being in a reality but artificially made, while “true reality” simply refers to a more in-depth circumstances (Morgan, 2015). With the anticipation of early cinema, Bazin believed that a more in-depth method could definitely serve as a milestone to manifest a more realistic approach before the audiences (Montgomery, 1996).

                   On a technical aspect of the movie, the filmmaker established medium shots on the beginning, different streams of panning, even slow tracking, great shot transitions, low & high angled shots, and a little length of montage to utilize ins & outs emphasizing Amélie’s daily routine and personality. In addition, the choice of music is also commendable—suspense, romantic, playful, joyful—giving the audiences a “classic motion” effects and feelings. Long time ago, Bazin cultivated the “Ontology of Cinema” wherein it is believed that the best way to produce and capture a particular moment is through taking photographs whether the distinction is true realism and pseudo-realism (as mentioned above). Some circumstances towards the reality of livelihood today were conveyed as well which, at the same time, appear to be the basis of Jeunet’s spectacle. Noticing the plot and the compilation of effects integrated in the film, they truly appear quite convincing although there were no source of amazements and even thrill. In that sense, the movie can be considered as a very old-fashioned one. However, paying attention to the point of view, it is quite discernible that it is a third person omniscient—a method in which the narrator appears to be “all-knowing” in a storytelling approach.

                   On the other hand, viewers could easily take notice of some scenes manifesting historical sculptures and places (replica). There are classic cars, silky stuff, and even almost rusted bicycles and other local transportation. With that, paintings and other forms of art was clearly emphasized, promoted, and exhibited. On the first part, audiences would never imagine it is possible to play with clouds and animals, but Amelie was able to do that. Showing that so long as you use your creativity and powerful imaginations, you can do anything and nothing is impossible. Also, the formation and deliberation of props were incredibly amazing! It will make the audiences feel so amazed since people behind obviously ventured amount of effort and attention to every detail. Through those props that were used, it successfully helped the film deliver the message they want to invoke—it has iconic pieces and more innovative visuals that could definitely give the audience an impression of what kind of future could be like. On the other hand, during 1928, the Silent film was consistently utilized (Holm, Aaltonen, & Siirtola, 2009). However, as the development of cinema rises, the world of images started to recede from view adding the fact that camera is not able to capture everything at once. It is indeed a fact that elements of the film is more focused on their objective content rather than depicting the reality (Irie, Kim, & Irie, 2005).

                   Traditionally speaking, various methods of communicating with other people, teaching students, and executing punishments in all aspects were shown as well and through contemporary cinematic realism techniques, filmmakers can now establish a more convincing way and creative way of presenting their ideas. Moreover, in the opening inscriptions, young Amélie is up to various matters while titles are being shown simultaneously. Similar with the ending credits, where characters’ pictures are illustrated on a certain album ripped apart and other photos being put back together. Considering that particular technique, Kracauer exclaimed that even though realistic components in the aspect of cinema were mostly founded by the Lumiere Brothers, Melies must be acknowledged as well since they founded the formative tendency on the same aspect which, at the same time, paved the way for his success in modern cinema (Batsakis, 2018).

                 The film strives to unveil the idea of how creatively the world can be portrayed—from delightsome global aesthetics related to cinema to the fine medium of communication applicable to all nationalities. Hence, it definitely serves as the people’s abetment and anxious concern towards French films. Even though the film was not actually fastened directly to the conscious events that make up a memorable childhood, still, it came up with the actualization that simpler pleasures are way more significant and can be more appreciated. Even so, while watching the film, there were some lapses or unnoticeable elements of modern living which have been removed such as poverty, corruption, discrimination, and racism. Thus, every thing about the film is impeccable and gratifying. With that being said, previous audiences, at some point, consider the film as a modern fairy tale. The way Amélie showed good deeds in her daily life, and how it affects the people around her in various ways was truly amazing. But the good thing about the film is that, the narrator has the ability to make you feel so magical, to the extent that it could let you come up with an idea that everything is possible. It is more of a magical quest for love, which is suitable to the film’s setting since its locale is in Paris—the City of Love. The film could, therefore, give the viewer an impression that Paris is truly a lovely place and exciting location to stay at. It could make the viewers see things and places they never knew existed.Above all, the film aims to come in view how strange and amusing life can be even during the darkest moments.

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