Back Comments (1) Share:
Facebook Button
The first time I saw Amelie was at the cinema, and it blew my socks off. From the first time I saw the trailer, I knew I wanted to see it and that it would be good, so I was very eager to get this on DVD. The first incarnation was spawned from the movie’s homeland, France, in January 2002. However this two-disc special edition featured no English subtitles. How rude! In the UK we had to wait until the middle of April to purchase this movie. It’s worth noting that a two-disc special edition was in the pipeline for the US and for the UK, but I was not going to wait for that. I wanted this movie as soon as possible.

The movie itself follows Amelie Poulain, a quiet girl who has a very sheltered upbringing, which turns her into a very shy twenty something. It is a simple story filled with great humour and not too much in the way of dialogue, making it easy to follow the subtitles and still be entranced by Amelie’s on screen antics.

After breaking a floor tile in her apartment, Amelie finds a small tin box. In this box are the treasures of someone’s childhood - a photo of a sports hero, a toy car and a toy bicycle. These are the forgotten secrets laid to rest by someone who lived in the apartment before her. Amelie then takes it upon herself to return these precious moments from someone’s past, and if they are happy, she decides to spend her time making other people happy. So begins Amelie’s tale of how she tries to put happiness into the lives of those around her, from the people she works with in the café, to her father, to a fragile painter who lives in a different part of the apartment block.

Along the way she meets many interesting people, including a man who collects the torn up photos that people leave behind at photo booths. Before long she is playing cat and mouse with this man. Does he love her? More to the point, does she love him? Can she love at all?

The movie comes with a monologue describing people’s thoughts throughout the movie. This really adds to the humour and to the sense of connection you feel with the characters. All of the cast are good, especially Audrey Tautou (Amelie) who shines in this film. The supporting cast all deliver solid, believable performances, which help entice you into the mixed up world of the sheltered Amelie. Direction is also sound, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Delicatessen, City of Lost Children) reverts back to his good old self after the less than riveting Alien Resurrection, keeping the energy flowing and the mind engrossed with Amelie’s plight.

The film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is anamorphically enhanced for widescreen viewing. Being a recent movie, and shot on good quality stock, the print is excellent, as you would expect. It appears to be shot in such a way as to give everything a soft glow. While sounding irritating, this actually brings you closer to the story, making every special moment seem more intimate (this is briefly mentioned in the commentary). There is also evidence of edge enhancement in places, but it is very slight. It is unlikely that you will notice it unless you are using very high quality projection equipment (or reviewing the DVD for a web site).

What is this? A region two DVD with a DTS soundtrack? There is no need to call the editor – this is not a mistake. This movie joins the high ranks of audio luxury with such top films as Gladiator and Disney’s Dinosaur (err maybe not that one then!) The French DTS sound is crisp and clear, making use of the available channels when necessary, but not over using them to the point of annoyance. There is also a French Dolby Digital track for those without DTS and the obligatory bog standard French Dolby Stereo. The only subtitles on this disc are English, however no hard of hearing subtitles are included.

The animated menus are good, and you will note that each time you return to the main title you get a different picture of Amelie, which is a nice touch.  Other special features are limited. Very limited. There is an audio commentary by the director (in English), but that’s it. Luckily, the commentary is excellent. Jeunet speaks with a soft, thick French accent, which simply adds more charm to this gem of a movie. He talks in full about the opening few minutes of the movie and how many parts of it actually came from his life. He doesn’t stop talking and really gives you your money’s worth, setting each important scene.  He talks about the digital effects, the locations, discusses other movies and the quality of the actors used – chipping in with little bits of background information about each. Certainly this is one of the better commentaries I have had the pleasure to listen to.

I guess they were saving the rest for the special edition two-disc set which was released several months after this single disc production. We should probably be thankful for the commentary to be honest, as it would have been easy to not put it on the DVD at all. And in this reviewer’s opinion, a commentary is probably the most interesting kind of extra to include anyway.

This is a great movie, and a decent DVD, as I’m not really one for extras. Yes they are nice, but give me a decent artefact-free print and a DTS soundtrack any day of the week over some “featurette” which is basically a long advert for the movie. Will I sell this version and get the two-disc SE? Unlikely. The movie itself is enough for me. The movie is currently at number 14 on the IMDB ( top 250 movies of all time, and rightly so. Even if you are not a fan of foreign cinema I recommend picking this up and seeing it. Whether you hire it to make a sexy media student think you are knowledgeable on today’s foreign cinema, or simply because you want to see a great feel good kinda movie, try it out. It will make you smile.