A look into French Film: Part 1 of a 3-Part Series

Le Fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain: Time Tells the Tale

In the film, Le Fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain, director Jean-Pierre Jeunet uses several techniques to both play with and distort time.  The film is about a young girl Amelie, who decides she wants to do good deeds for others for the rest of her life.  At the beginning of the film, as the credits are rolling, the audience sees a child playing with toys, eating, laughing, and dancing.  The director speeds up and slows down these images, showing that time is lapsing a bit in between each set.  Once the film starts, the audience is in a more grown up world, and Amelie is an adult.

The main color of the film is a yellowish hue, which gives the film an antique essence.  In addition, this light color clouds the viewers’ vision of when it is night and day.  It is almost impossible to tell the difference between the two.  Because of this it is difficult to tell how much time has passed or how much time has been spent in a particular pace. The technique is both unique and eye-catching.

In shorter scenes, the director uses speed to show that time has passed.  During day-to-day scenes, the director speeds up the motions and makes everything go by very quickly.  It is almost like how our subconscious tunes out our daily habits like brushing our teeth, locking our door, driving to work, etc.  In the same way, the director fast forwards through all the unimportant events while still showing that they have happened, which causes the audience to feel as though they are a part of these daily activities.

The timing in this film also gives this film a certain amount of excitement and tension.  When Amelie is walking the blind man through the square, things start out at a normal speed, but start to get faster and faster as they get more and more exciting.  This tension in speed increases the fascination behind the scene and the meaning.

For more on Amélie , check out a preview here.


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