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Tips for english viewers
on December 13, 2001
I have seen thousands of films in my life, and thought nothing could surprise me anymore on a screen. Amelie proved me I was wrong. Instead of writing another "best film ever" comment, I would like to give some indications for non-french speaking viewers, as the translation might have made some lines a bit obscure.
Amelie says to Colignon "Meme les artichauds ont du coeur" (Even artichokes have a heart). In french, "un coeur d'artichaud" (an artichoke heart) is a person that falls very often and easily in love.
Colignon calls Amelie "Amelie-melo" (pronounce "ah-may-LEE-may-low") which sounds like "un meli-melo", a muddle or mix-up.
In the cafe, people discuss about time and weather, as the same word "temps" means both "le temps qui passe" (time that passes) and "le temps qu'il fait" (the weather). So goes Hippolito's theory : they speak about the weather because they are afraid of the passing time.
Collignon says about his mother : "Elle a une memoire d'elephant, un elephant de mer" (literally: she has memory like an elephant, a sea elephant). A "sea elephant" is a sort of walrus, and "mer" (sea) and "mere" (mother) are pronounced the same.
When Amelie is in a theater, she watches "Jules & Jim", a movie by Francois Truffaut. There are many references to Truffaut in the movie : Claire Maurier plays the mother in "the 400 blows" and many scenes refer to "Bed and Board", which itself refers to Hitchcock's "Rear window". I still have to figure which was the movie whith Spencer Tracy driving without watching...
When Amelie watches her projected life on TV, a scene that refers to Woody Allen's "Zelig", the voice over is from Frederic Mitterand, nephew of his uncle, who is famous for commenting weddings or funerals of aristocrats on french TV.
The "likes/dislikes" narration was experimented by Jeunet in a short movie "Foutaise" with Dominique Pinon, that will be included in the collector edition of the DVD. It also refers to "La vie, mode d'emploi" (Life: a user's manual) from Georges Perec, although Jeunet admits he could never finish the book.
Most TV scenes are stock shots. The story about the horse running in the Tour de France is true. Most stories told in the film are true, including the one about collecting discarded pictures.
There are numerous references in the movie, including to other Jeunet films. The scene in the mystery train is almost a copy of a similar scene in Alien : Resurrection where Ripley has an almost tender behaviour with the alien.
Finally, "Amelie" comes from "Emily", as Emily Watson was supposed to play the role, and "Poulain" is both a young untrained horse and a chocolate brand. And this is not a coincidence.