The Secret Of The Success Of ‘Amélie’ Two Decades Later: “Talk About Positive Things, About The Pleasures Of Life”

Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the director of ‘Amélie’, this Friday in Valencia.Monica Torres

Jean-Pierre Jeunet doesn’t seem tired of talking about Amelie. He has been doing it since the French film burst into the box office in 2001, that the haircut of its protagonist, a young Audrey Tautou, was copied ad nauseam, his poster hung in thousands of rooms and His music will be heard even in the most remote corner. This year, on the occasion of the film’s 20th anniversary, he once again had to work hard without forgetting to Delicatessen, which he co-directed with Marc Caro and is turning 30. “These two films are in the front row. There are as many films as there are molecules of water in Niagara Falls, but having these two I can say that I have left a mark on the cinema ”, stated Jeunet, 68, hours before receiving this Friday the Palmera d’Honor de la Sample of Valencia. Mediterranean cinema, which closes on Sunday.

The Valencian festival, like that of Cannes previously, which at the time rejected the film in its official section, has also remembered the anniversary of Amelie, a film that continues to be the subject of university theses. What was the secret of your success? “One thing that touches everyone’s soul is that he is such a generous character, that he performs acts of generosity without asking for anything in return. Amelie He talks about positive things, about small pleasures in life, like putting his hand in a bag of seeds. And it contains many funny anecdotes, like that garden gnome who walks all over the world. There are also strange things, like when we see the heart that beats, there is also Audrey’s discovery that music [de Yann Tiersen] It is extraordinary and a very romantic vision of Paris. It is a mixture of many different things ”.

The film was a resounding success with more than 35 million viewers, set trends, created a style between naive and bright, with a cartoon aesthetic, saturated colors. It is one of the most influential French films of the 21st century, according to some publications. But it has also been reviled as corny, good-natured or escapist, criticisms that have been accentuated over time from feminist sectors, for example. They maintain that the protagonist perpetuates the role of the traditional woman in search of the ideal man, of the male partner who solves all her problems, among other issues. A critic stressed that in the Paris of Amelie Black or Arab characters do not appear, whitening the image of the city.

Actor Audrey Tautou, in ‘Amélie’, by director Jean-Pierre Jeunet.

“The feature film talks about positive things. There are a lot of violent movies that deal with violence and negative things, there are many more. Doing something that feels good to people, that is pleasant, without being something very calculated, but rather spontaneous, is quite difficult. And at that time there was still no call feel good movie“, Explain. The director of Long summer sunday O Alien Resurrection to the subgenre of the film industry that includes films to “make the public feel good”, which usually include Love Actually, La La Land O Untouchable, who snatched Amelie the highest-grossing French film title in history.

“I have not started my deconstruction yet,” jokes Jeunet about the deficiencies attributed to Amelie. “Someone from the production dedicated himself to counting the published reviews and found 450 positive and five negative. There is a person, a critic, who always criticizes me. One day I woke up sweating in the morning because I had had such a positive review of him. And indeed, in the film there are also Arab characters in the grocery store or on the platform, the protagonist is approached by a lesbian … ”.

Jeunet does not like reality as a creator: “I feel more like a painter who wants to show the world in his own way, like Turner’s paintings, you see things differently than they do in reality. I really like animated films, filmmakers who transform the world, like Tim Burton or Jacques Tati. Filming reality seems to me as uninteresting as making a photocopy. For that, it is better to film documentaries, as Marc Caro told me. As a spectator I do like realistic cinema, for example, by Mike Leigh, but as a filmmaker, I don’t. “

Nor does he like to see so much controversy in everything, in the news, on television networks, in movies, everything is branded as controversial. “If someone saw me leaning like this with my head down, they could say that it is a contempt for Spanish cinema. Anyway ”, he adds. Can’t talk about the controversy in France about the film BAC Nord: Criminal Investigation Brigade, praised for its cinematic language and disqualified for its supposed far-right ideology, because it has not seen it. As has not seen Titaniumby Julia Ducournau, the groundbreaking French film that shocked and won the last Cannes Film Festival. “I saw the previous one and it was enough,” he says with a gesture of rejection, referring to the feature film Crude.

The director is now waiting to see how his latest feature, produced by Netflix, works. Bigbug. There is in him “artificial intelligence, robots, future, also politics. I can only say that those who like my cinema are going to love it, and those who hate it are going to love to hate it, “he says.

We would love to thank the author of this short article for this outstanding material