Published in Variety, Jan. 15, 2002
Director short takes
Helmers elaborate on myriad approaches
"Amelie" represented a departure for French helmer Jean-Pierre Jeunet,
known for the baroquely dystopian "Delicatessen" and "City of Lost
"I wanted to make a positive film for a long time, maybe because I did three
movies before," says the director. "I had worked on this collection of
stories for maybe
25 years that I wanted to make into a film. In fact, it was very difficult
to find the
(unifying) concept. One day I understood the center of the story. It was
just one little
story in the middle of the other stories, the story of the woman helping
And then everything was easy -- easy to write, easy to shoot, easy to edit."
"Amelie's" setting -- a kind of storybook Paris -- also represented a
departue for the
filmmaker. "The challenge for me was to shoot outside, because I did three
a soundstage)," he says. "I tried to get the same quality of work. To shoot
wasn't easy in Paris, because the Parisians are pretty tough. I remember one
guy parked his car in front of the camera, and he said, 'F--k the cinema!'
Although Jeunet says he makes films for himself, he says the opportunity to
viewers is only frosting on the cake. "I didn't expect success like this.
It's much brighter
than my other films, 'Delicatessen' and 'The City of Lost Children,' which I
(co-director) Marc Caro. It's impossible to put some personal emotion in
collaborating with someone else).
"I remember sometimes I wanted to put a love story in and I know he doesn't
kind of story. So, I thought I would keep this idea for my own film. Almost
all the stories
in 'Amelie' are true, except for the joke with the garden gnome around the
world. I use
a lot of small details from my childhood. I modify a lot of things, but the
woman in the cafe -- that's my mother. That's my life."