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L/O: (A03) Can I demonstrate planning, research and presentational skills in my case study on Amelie?

Starter Activity
In pairs, create a picture of a typical French man or woman. Think carefully about what they might wear, how they might look, important elements of their personalities, hobbies, likes and dislikes. Label your picture and compare it with those of the other groups in the class. How realistic do you think these pictures are? How many French actors and actresses can you name? Are they like your pictures in any way?

Introduction to Amelie
Amlie was directed and co-written by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, one of a newer breed of French directors whose films are sometimes referred to as the cinema du look. His films have been popular all over the world and his background in animation shows through in his imaginative approach to film-making. The films of Jeunet and his peers have not always met with critical approval in his home country, Amlie being turned down by the Cannes Film Festival. More generally though, Amlie was hailed in France as a positive statement of what it means to be French.

Introduction to Amelie: Representation

Amlie is often described as a modern fairy tale, which on the whole is a fair summary. The film is a digitally enhanced version of a quirky and amusingly observed reality. It takes place in an idealised version of the world. The heightened reality is further underscored with its inner city Paris location. The portrayal of a modern metropolitan city as a clean and community minded world is a French equivalent of harking back to simpler times (the 1950s) in our own country. From the first moments, as the accordion and music wafts in over the opening titles, we know almost certainly that we are not about to witness a gritty and realistic portrayal of contemporary urban France.

Representation Task
Watch the opening 1 minute 20 seconds of Amlie twice. On the first viewing focus upon the way that Paris is represented. On the second viewing, we are going to pause the film on the first frame which shows the Rue St. Vincent, Montmartre. Make notes on the mise-en-scne; think about the way colour is used. Note down what is included in the frame and why.

Representation Task
Move onto the second frame which foregrounds the table and chairs. What is shown in the background? Finally, watch the third frame where Eugene Colere is writing in his diary. What do we see in the background? Consider what kind of Paris is being represented in these opening frames. Think about the use of accordion music, sepia tints and panoramic shots. Do you see anything that represents modern life?

The film is supposed to be set in 1997 at the time of Princess Dianas death. When you watch the rest of the film, notice how many of the elements of modern life have been removed. What is represented is a virtual reality CGI Paris which provides the setting for a light, elegant romance which includes elements of fantasy with all negative elements such as poverty and racism magicked away.
The story revolves around the life of the title character, Amlie Poulain (Audrey Tautou). The tone for the film is set when the short opening sequence is given over to her early life. It begins at the moment of conception and concludes with her leaving home for Paris. The sequence is sharp, funny and imaginatively depicted. This is heightened by a strange sense of precision in the characters and events it depicts; the timings, for example, are given to the second.

Key terms: CGI: computer-generated imagery

We are going to watch the opening sequence of Amlie.

How are the characters introduced to us? Think about the use of a narrator and what we are told about each person and the kinds of camera shots that are used. What do we learn about Amlie in this sequence? What kind of adult do we think she might grow up to be?

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