Amelie (Jean-Pierre, 2001)
I haven’t watched this film for years – and I have found a new love for this film. Not only the meaning behind it but the way it’s shot. It’s incredibly unique (in my perspective) and very strange as well. I am sure many people would disagree with me – but personally I like it. I am very inspired from it – maybe because it reminds me of my childhood. But now I feel like I understand why I use to think it was so beautiful (due to how it was created through coverage).
I have chosen to do the Credit scene plus the introduction to the parents. I think the start of the film is at such a high quality (through the use of whole lost of different techniques) and it takes you into a bit of a journey throughout the duration of the film.
- ‘Introduction’ – 0:22 – 4:35
After a few titles, the audience is shown an establishing shot with narration (no camera movement). The second shot is where the camera movement begins to start – this time subtly (as moving the camera on tracking shots is used very often in this scene) to again establish the environment (Paris – Eiffel Tower in the background). This slowly moves down to the subject matter of the glasses. In the first few shots it is as though they are establishing the environment but not yet the main characters – like short, but not quiet, unrelated scenes. The audience is then shown a man (still highlighting a similar environment [through the window]) with a tracking shot. I am a huge fan how they have used tracking shots – it makes it feel more intimate and it’s just so smooth.
The next few shots have been done in post-production (I assume) as we are shown another story – but this time the environment has already been established (with the French styled music as well) and we are now going from the very start (sperm and eggs). The next shot (pregnant woman) is magnificent. I would assume this has been done with multiple still shots – as she grows and then there is the birth. This is a fast paced process (even though pregnancy is not fast paced).
New music chimes in and the audience is shown beginning credits and are shown Amelie as a little girl (assumed as she was just born). There is a jittery feel throughout this start – as though it’s been replayed through as old film camera. Post-production (again assumed) there are small details of scratches and colour grading has been done to create an ‘old’ effect. Some shots become over exposed and flared and then the frame is brought back to a greenish/yellow tone – a little bit like sepia but not. The camera almost looks (and it may be) hand held). The camera wobbles towards Amelie, but what I am guessing a home quality feel (parents videoing their children on a hand held video camera). Although the way it’s filmed doesn’t feel like it would be her parents, but an outsider that she trusts. Maybe even herself as it looks like to be her little world and how her mind works.
I think on set lighting would have come from one or two sources – as there is a lot of shadows and tonal gradients on Amelie’s face (also emphasised through post-production). Direct but soft lighting. The camera comes in and out of focus in a fast pace – and some shots are even sped up. This creates a quirky feel – especially against the soft and slow music. There are a lot of shots (or even one shot that kept rolling on hand held) that have been cut and put together timely with the music and as some shots are sped up there isn’t a dull or slow moment and this is emphasised through the continuous cuts to different shots. Although some shots are shown to be ‘real time’ paced (such as dominos) to create a little bit of suspense and the importance of the moment. I think the actor is very controlled but the camera movement almost looks like it has been thought out on the spot. It’s effortless in the way it goes in and out of focus, the camera moves towards and away from the subjects face. Light flare has been used in a way to change to the next edit/shot. The flare and small moment of over exposure then returned to a non-natural light makes what is happening feel real yet still a bit fantasy like. As though it’s a whole different world and we are in the world of the little girl. I think this is to establish her character – and describe to the audience who she is and how she is entertained. The audience is able to see snippets of it. The shaky camera enables a personal feel and relates to the young girl – as the camera (movement) too seems a little naïve and playful. Close-up shots are used very often – but are very quick, almost temperamental. Quick cuts are made constantly and there seems to be no formula of shots. Every shot goes on for a unique amount of time – some are 2-second shots, others are 5-second and it is constantly changing. Throughout Amelies activities – cuts are made to edit some parts of what she is doing. When she is blowing into a piece of paper – the audience is shown parts of the act in segments. But very quick segments. So it seems you aren’t missing much – but a cut has still been made to continue with the fast pace. A film reel sound is heard at the end as the music slows down and Amelia goes out of frame – ending the credits.
The audience in then introduced to her parents. Tracking shots are used in nearly every shot (to highlight them in their environments). This continues with a fast pace – but just movement in general. There is a huge focus on movement. Through the use of this shot – the audience is also establishing an environment. The tracking shots are used to come close to the character and also to move around them. This is more structural as the camera doesn’t make any ‘round’ movements – it’s very direct. There are slight pauses as the end of the shots as well. At the train station it goes from the woman talking and the camera moves at a very fast paces towards the father (there is no focus while the camera is moving towards him and everything is blurred). The pool scene shows the camera rising up in a smooth moment. The camera so far has been very experimental and is showing so many different angles. The introduction of the parents is so fluid (I think anyway). The camera follows in an untimely way – yet making it timed beautifully. The camera movements highlight the mise en scene – establishing the environment. The mise en scene feels very thought out and well detailed – and the camera movements compliment this factor. We are shown the environments of the character and how the character ‘lives’ within them.
In the wife’s section – I like how the camera follows her head movements. This is still at a fast pace but throughout each section, such as when she gets up from her will the camera follows in a head/close up – cropping her head. There is just such a huge range of shots – from above, from below to establish her. Then there are formulas with the husband and wife that the audience can relate them together – and links them. Similar shots are used to establish the both of them (tracking shots coming closer and then another where they are seated (separated shots) and the camera is going from left to right). The music then ends to highlight a new scene.