Sunday, July 28, 2002
Amélie

Amélie

From Crumb to Crumpet: A Story of Demand

Amélie discovers the magic of Marketing and becomes a product. Don’t you just want to consume her?

By Matt Kirby ::: philms ::: (5) Comments ::: Read the whole thing

Comments

1

Not that I have anything great to say at this point as dont have mental power to re-read article.

However I do remember the comment about the old man who keeps trying to repaint the famous picture…

It was Walter Benjamin (Frankfurt School), who said that every time you recreate a picture, it losses some of its original aura… however unlike his colleges he was quite in favour of technology advances, as he said that they democratised the medium, allowing individuals to get involved in the process of creating meaning though art.

Anyway, surely this is a reference to this guys work, and hence, although it has been a long time since Ive watched the film.. it is a possible satire on the point… i.e. consumerism isnt great or democratising… its just that most people will take the film on face value… so who knows…

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 28 May 04 at 01:45 PM
2

Hey! I had “pheedback” on this article! Where’d it go?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 17 Jun 06 at 09:26 PM
3

I’ll fix it:

Kirby’s is a fun analysis, but I’ve got to disagree on several levels. First of all, I think it’s terribly French to be so “unFrench” as to shove a movie about the “the little things in life” down the gullets of the marketing-master Americans. Comment-dit-on “irony?” Secondly, who would’ve marketed the pleasures of lentil fondling to Amelie, anyway? (And one wonders what they were selling.) If Amelie had bought into the consumerist dream, she would’ve been reading slick magazines and watching out for wealthy beaux, like the character Tautou played in Venus Beaute Institut, Marie.
Lentil fondling, stone skipping, crčme brulee cracking, et al constitute STOLEN MOMENTS for Amelie. The emphasis is important. The look on her face tells you she thinks she is getting away with something big. Amelie has learned to become, in her own way, quite the little sneak-thief. Here she has a genuine link with Miette. I think the parentage there is real. I’d thought about this before I read Kirby’s article. The visual resemblance is too striking; then, too, they possess similar character traits of self-reliance, initiative, and a sense of frontier justice, and neither is content to be alone in the world. 
But let’s pause for a moment and think about whose world is really more treacherous, and whose knots really more gordian. (I take it Kirby thinks Amelie is a big step down the evolutionary ladder from Miette.) Miette’s world is filled with all-out villains, and she is forced to be an extravert to survive; she has not been allowed the luxury of introversion. Amelie’s world is no less nightmarish for its ordinariness, and for the way it demands you veil everything but the thumping of your heart. Amelie has not been allowed- by virtue of her “heart condition” (now there’s a ham-fisted metaphorical device if there ever was one)- to find her way into the world of “the other.” Hers is just a good ol’ fashioned existential crisis. Here she brings to mind another dark-haired heroine of film consumability, Lucy Honeychurch from A Room with a View, who is told, tellingly, “If Miss Honeychurch ever begins to live as passionately as she plays, the results will be interesting indeed.”

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 17 Jun 06 at 09:31 PM
4

Amelie comment (con’t)

Amelie has been trapped in this childhood of hers with nothing but the things of the imagination for company. Smart enough to blow out of that little pop stand, she finds herself still alone and cut off from everybody until she learns to concretize her existence by taking actions which she invests with personal meaning and identity. (I forget how the movie puts this exactly, but it’s something like, “She will become a do-er of good deeds, a returner of lost objects…”) Kirby calls this “us[ing] objects to manipulate human experience;” yeah, in a way, but I would make the distinction that it is not so much a manipulation but a mediation through the objects (good faith vs. bad faith), and mostly of herself to herself.
And does this represent so much less an accomplishment than Miette’s…what would one call them if not exercises of freedom? Kirby vaunts “the diminutive crumb…so rude…and high on her emergent sexuality…that she cannot be marketed to.” Sorry, she sounds like just another “post-punk pixie” to me. And I argue that these exercises of freedom count for less in a world where no one is restricting your freedom anyway, other than by trying to cut short your life. The Miettes of the world are the lucky ones, for they have the freedom to act in any way to preserve their own self-interests. It is the Lucy Honeychurches and the Amelies who must wrestle with the slippery serpents of ennui and respectability, who lack the freedom to do anything expressively beyond forms of solitary meditation, but whose hearts will nonetheless burst if they do not- to be mourned by no one, when as Amelie knows, they should be mourned by millions, especially if some wonky English princess is. Happy the girl whose foes are named “Octopus” and “Krank” instead of being parts of herself.
Am I playing into the filmmaker’s hands here? The thing is, I can’t see any good reason not to. Ok, Miramax got heavy-handed with their “She’ll change your life” marketing, but that’s THEIR problem, not the film’s. I did think the Zorro mask posters were a little out of character for Amelie’s character. Nino’s obsession with photography wasn’t what got him the job in the porn store; that was just coincidence. He’s a nerd; he’s not a Maxim man. No self-respecting Maxim man would be clinging to a scrapbook full of cast-off nobodies in a PORN store; that’s like Linus carrying his blanky to a strip club.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 17 Jun 06 at 09:34 PM
5

Amelie comment (part III)

Both Nino and Amelie are REJECTS of the consumer culture, for god’s sake, although perhaps a little too photo-ready for the average such reject. They’re people who couldn’t find cyber-dates if they tried, not that they were that type of people anyway. I don’t think from the expression on her face you’re supposed to think he’s just one more boy in her cycle. (But maybe if all women are the same height lying down, then perhaps all men hubba hubba…) I think perhaps the movie is wisely trying to point out that sex is not always to be considered the making or breaking of a relationship, or indeed the defining moment of whether it is in fact a “keeper.”
Are the filmmakers guilty of trying to put out a consumable movie with highly palatable actress? Yes, I would have to say I think so, on that one. Guilty. Do I consider this movie something of a guilty pleasure? Yeah, I’d have to say so. Guilty, guilty, guilty. Do I feel guilty when I watch it? Nary a bit.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 17 Jun 06 at 09:35 PM

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