We're still totally in love with Amélie, 13 years later
Thirteen years ago today, we all fell hopelessly in love with a girl named Amélie—the protagonist of a film that would go on to become the highest-grossing French-language release in this country to date. In case you’re wondering, yes, Amélie holds up.
I recently re-watched this amazing film on Netflix, and I can safely say it stands out as one of the best movies ever made: it’s whimsical, charming, bright, and full of heart.
Writers Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Guillaume Laurant perfectly script the character of Amélie, played by Audrey Tautou, to be this near-magical angel of hope who dedicates herself to spreading happiness to those who least expect it. Tautou shines through every scene of the film, and you really can’t get enough of her by the end of the movie, especially when she finally gets with Nino. (More on that later.)
The spirit of Amélie parades through every scene of the film creating quite a beautiful aura unlike any other captured in film. The green filters on the footage gloss over the Parisian streets, generating a storybook feel. Each character daintily falls into Amélie’s life and maintains a story of their own, but unsurprisingly, they all converge on Amélie, who shakes up the status quo of her small existence. This is all kick-started by Princess Diana’s death which causes her to transform into a Samaritan of sorts, assisting where she can while imbuing happiness (well, sometimes strife) into other people’s lives.
Amélie is quirky and clever. But, like so many people, she’s in search of someone to love. Specifically, a guy named Nino. She’s shy, afraid to speak directly to Nino; instead, she devises a plan to mysteriously return his photo collection to him, but (spoiler alert!) they eventually meet up.
But this isn’t just a love story. It’s a story of hope, originality and spirit. Amélie’s style makes her stand out in the world. Full of reds and greens and blacks, she walks the streets in her Dr. Martens in awe of the little things; almost as an outsider, she’s always simply observing, listening, and seeking out how she could improve the world one small thing at the time. Who else would have the guts and curiosity to help their father by sending his garden gnome to diverse countries with a flight attendant friend?
Everything she sees she’s in awe of, and we, as a result, start seeing the magic in everyday things through her eyes.
“The drum major’s widow! She’s worn his coat since the day he died. The horse’s head has lost an ear! That’s the florist laughing. He has crinkly eyes. In the bakery window, lollipops. Smell that! They’re giving out melon slices. Sugarplum ice cream! We’re passing the park butcher. Ham, 79 francs. Spareribs, 45! Now the cheese shop. Picadors are 1 2.90. Cabecaus 23.50. A baby’s watching a dog that’s watching the chickens. Now we’re at the kiosk by the metro. I’ll leave you here. Bye!”
We can all mirror Amélie’s way of being by taking the time to observe each flower, pebble, ladybug, and stranger on the street. Everything and everyone deserves to be acknowledged or seen (to quote Doctor Who) for what they truly are in this world, and Amélie’s story shows us that.
I’ll leave you with this quote from the narrator of the film, as it so perfectly captures our heroine. He says, “. . .a scent in the air, the quiet murmur of the city. She breathes deeply. Life is simple and clear. A surge of love, an urge to help mankind comes over her.”
(Images via Tumblr, Miramax)