Sharon Knolle Freelance Writer

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Published in Variety, Jan. 15, 2002

D.P. short takes
Lensers expound on methods, aesthetic


In only his fourth feature, cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel, along with director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, managed to work magic on the City of Light, giving Paris -- a place already laden with romantic associations -- an uncommonly storybook quality on "Amelie."

"I made a fake Paris, a really nice place, like in musicals," director Jeunet says of his collaboration with Delbonnel.

"We knew we wanted to have an explosion of color for everything," he adds, knowing that they planned to correct and enhance the color digitally after filming -- even turning cloudy Paris skies blue.

The gorgeous color scheme was inspired by an artist living in Jeunet's Paris neighborhood of Montmartre, Brazilian painter Machado, particularly his palette of reds, browns, golds and greens.

"Basically, what we wanted was a gold-green look with a lot of red," says Delbonnel. This palette dictated everything "from production design to costume design to makeup ... even the fabric we used in the wall in the apartment."

"I decided that I wanted to use filters on the camera just to go as far as I could to achieve this look. I used mostly an antique Suede filter, which is really yellow, on the interior shots, because I was using a tungsten-balanced film, Kodak 5277/320. For the exterior shots, I was using daylight film (Kodak 5246/250) and I chose a coral filter to match the two different kind of films."

Achieving "Amelie's" impossibly rich hues and picture-perfect Paris wouldn't have been possible before the digital process, Jeunet explains. "Before, with the chemical process, you had some limits. For example, with the 'City of Lost Children,' it was very difficult to get the red and the green in the same frame. And now with the digital process, you can get everything you want. It's amazing, because you can fix just one small part of the frame or you can make a moving matte."

Enthuses Delbonnel, "The object was to have this kind of fairy-tale look like you have in a book for children. We were really, really thrilled with the end result."

— Sharon Knolle

2002 Cahners Business Information 2002 Variety, Inc.