“Amelie” or as the original title states “The Fabulous Destiny of Amelie Poulain”, which I believe fully and better describes the idea of the film, is a French romantic comedy. It was filmed in 2001 by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, which depicts the modern life in Paris and particularly tells the story of the young girl Amelie, played by Audrey Tautou.
The childhood years Amelie has spent at home, being always alone and incapable of attending school since her parents mistakenly got her diagnosed a heart disease. Amelie’s mother died when the girl was very small being hit by the tourist from Canada, who decided to commit a suicide by jumping off the church. Thus, Amelie grows and lives in her imaginary world. When she grows up, she works as a waitress in a café, tries to start some romantic relations, which are rather unsuccessful and generally tries to live a normal life. One day she finds a box full of toys in the wall of her bathroom and decides to return it to its owner, who, in his turn, gets very happy to get something that reminds of childhood after many years. After this incident, Amelie decides to interfere the lives of other people to make their lives better and happier. She helps one of her coworkers to start dating with one of the customers of her café, she writes a letter to one of her neighbors, Mrs. Wallace, making it look as if it was written by her dead husband, who left her long ago, where he says that he still loves her. Also Amelie tries to make her father turn his dream of traveling around the world to the reality by asking stewardess to make the photos of her father’s garden gnome in different cities and in front of significant sights and to send him those photos. She also punishes the greengrocer for his terrible attitude towards the boy, who helps him around by making him doubt his sense of reality changing objects in his apartment. Later she meets a young man, who shares her views of the world and after a set of circumstances, they understand that they are in love and that they were meant for each other.
The film is considered to be a modern fairy tale where Amelie, like the Godmother from “Cinderella” appears in needed places, helps find the lost things, resolve some difficulties and troubles and as a reward for all her good deeds, she “accidentally” encounters the man, who is the love of her life. Of course, following Amelie’s adventures and watching how she helps everyone around arrange their lives or solve some problems cheers up and makes the mood switch to positive. The problem of this film is that while watching it you understand that everything is done too easily, all the problems are solved in such a simple manner that it becomes clear that it is possible only in the movie, in real life most of the things that Amelie does are impossible or sometimes illegal and even immoral.
First of all, the character of Audrey Tautou has no right to interfere in the lives of other people, if they do not ask her to, but Amelie has a strong belief that she has this right and that she definitely must do something about the lives of others. I think that her actions can be justified only concerning her father since he is the part of her family and she knows him well and, perhaps, understands what is better for him and what will make him happy. In some other cases, I think her actions are incorrect.
When Amelie punishes the greengrocer, she illegally intrudes into the apartment. It is scary to imagine that someone thinking he has the right to judge others gets into your house and changes objects inside or looks through some personal things. If to add that such her actions almost make the greengrocer turn mad, her motifs at all seem evil and definitely not good. At the same time, she does not seem to care about the consequences.
Writing a touching but fake letter to a poor woman, who was almost ready to admit and accept that her husband did not love her was also mean. Amelie, living in her world of illusions, makes people around her also get trapped. Instead of helping the woman get through her pain, acknowledge the truth and move on, Amelie pushes Mrs. Wallace to living in the illusion that her husband was a good man. Eventually it can make the woman torture herself with the thoughts that she should have never let him go and that, maybe, he would have lived if they did not part. Instead of setting her free, Amelie only ties Mrs. Wallace stronger to the past.
Another example of Amelie’s misunderstanding of the mechanics of the real world is the fact that she makes the jealousy ex-boyfriend of her coworker date with her other friend – the lonely cashier. It is obvious that they probably will not be capable to create healthy relationships since the man simply found a new victim and the girl has lost an opportunity to meet someone who would really love her. Perhaps, Amelie decided that it would be better for her friend to have at least someone around instead of being alone, but again, who gave her the right to make decisions.
As the result the spectators have to watch how the girl, who has a very specific understanding of how things have to be done and what is right and what is wrong, tries to change the lives of others to better. If to look closely, it becomes clear that the people around Amelie are simply stupid and the core of their problems is the fact that they simply do not want to do anything to change their lives. Instead, they simply sit and wait till comes Amelie and makes their worlds even more crazy, complicated and confusing than they were before. The character of Audrey Tautou acts irresponsibly, she does not care neither for her life and future daydreaming all the time nor for the lives of people around her. Therefore, I think that this kind of personality like Amelie does not deserve admiration and should not serve as a role model. Having rich imagination is good, but one must always think of the consequences and responsibility.
Thus, in my opinion, “Amelie” can be concerned as a film that pictures some imaginary world, which has no links to reality. Since it does not stand to any criticism, this picture should not be taken seriously. At the same time, the movie also can not be considered as a fantasy film or a fairy-tale since it does not even deliver any important or valuable message. It does not even bring the mood and atmosphere of Paris. Therefore, I would not recommend this film, it does not guarantee a pleasant time spending and the spectator would not get anything from watching this film.
“Life Is Beautiful”
“Life Is Beautiful” is an Italian drama with the comedy elements, filmed in 1997 by Roberto Benigni, who also played the leading role in it. The plot of the film takes place in 1939 and follows the life of the Jewish Italian Guido Orefice, who is a very optimistic and positive character. He arrives to Arezzo, where meets the school teacher Dora, and falls in love with her from the first sight. He wins her love with his sincerity and incredible sense of humor, later they get married and start raising their son Giosue. This is where the romantic part of the movie ends and starts the tragic part. The persecution of the Jews starts in Italy, thus, eventually Guido and his son are being taken to the concentration camp. The father does everything to save his child from the gas camera. Guido tells Giosue that everything that happened to them is just a game. The prize for the winner is the tank, but to get it, Giosue has to gain the required number of points, which he gets for following some of rules, which include no crying, no asking for food or not being caught by soldiers. During their entire residence in the camp, the boy believes his father until the moment when the American army arrives, which causes the panic in the camp. Guido tells his son that the last requirement to win the prize is to hide and wait till everything gets around quite. During the commotion, Guido is shot by the Nazi soldier, the Americans free the people of the concentration camp, Giosue finds his mother and gets to ride on the tank not knowing what terrors he managed to survive.
“Life Is Beautiful” is a recognized masterpiece not only of Italian, but also of the world cinema. This film does not simply emotionally catch the viewer, it is capable of penetrating to the depth of the soul, it inspires and makes love life in all its displays. There are many movies that talk about War, genocide and antisemitism, but this particular film stands out of that wide range, being totally different and one of the kind. I would like to highlight some features that make this film so special.
First of all, it is the tragicomic storyline, which can be divided into two parts. The one that describes the life of the main characters before the beginning of the World War II and the part, which depicts the events that take place during the War. The prewar period is shown as a fairy tale that happens in real life, which is full of miracles and funny moments. The second part, regardless of the fact that it depicts the terrors of the war and life in the concentration camp, is still shown from the optimistic point of view of the main character Guido, who till the very end does not give up his cheerful and comic features of the personality. I was really impressed by his will and the power of the spirit to maintain the positive mood in such terrible conditions. I think the majority simply gets broken in this kind of situations, but Guido’s belief in the happy ending for him and his family, and his faith in the reunion with wife was strong enough not to let him lose hope and save his son. I believe that from this point of view, this character deserves admiration.
Roberto Benigni, who played Guido, created an outstanding and unconventional character, who loves his life and believes that it is a great gift of fate, considering that his duty is to turn the lives of everyone into a fairy tale. His Guido is an unselfish, open-minded and kind man, who maintains these features even during the war, not turning into a selfish and pessimistic person. His acting deserves many compliments since he managed to deliver the image of a funny optimist perfectly.
Thanks to Roberto Benigni’s capability to create and deliver such positive character the film forms the incredibly cheering impact on the viewers. After watching this film, the audience must be experiencing some mixed feelings. On one hand, every person would get moved to the depth of his heart with this incredible and touching story, and on the other, thanks to the comedy elements the film is perceived easily and does not leave any hard or sad feelings. After watching this movie, in my opinion, every, even the most skeptical spectator would think about different philosophical questions, especially about the value of family and the sense of life.
Despite the big amount of good qualities, this film also has a number of weaknesses, the most important of which is the lack of realism. First of all, this concerns the main characters. When the War starts, Guido does not change his character to become at least a little more serious, sometimes it seems that this character has only one feature, he does not show any other emotions besides his optimism. I think there are no people like Guido in real life.
The other unrealistic moment occurred during the scene when Dora asks to let her get on the train with her husband and son, when they are being taken away to the concentration camp. Nicoletta Braschi, who played Dora did not impress with her acting, although I think that is exactly where she should have demonstrated all her talent. During the first half of the film, when she had simply to smile and dance, it was still possible to believe in her happiness; in the second, dramatic, half of the film, when she had to demonstrate strong emotions of a woman, who understands that her husband and the only child will be taken away at any moment and that her happiness will be ruined, the actress simply could not make me believe her. Her face looks the same during the entire film. Perhaps, the director made a mistake by choosing her, or maybe the actress herself was not capable of showing such emotions.
The next, indeed the impossible in my opinion, thing took place in the concentration camp. Of course, the audience understands that this is a comedy film, but the idea itself that Guido tried to prevent his son from suffering in a concentration camp is ridiculous. No one has returned from the camps uninjured, both young and old, adults and children suffered simply from being located there. The ways that Guido uses to save or hide his son would have simply lead to the immediate death of both of them. It is impossible to imagine that the performance Guido arranged in the camp was ever possible to happen in the real concentration camp. Benigni simply could not leave behind the image of a happy waiter from the first part of the film and bring some realism to his character. Also, I think that the way life in the concentration camp was shown sometimes looked more like a mockery of those people who really went through the terrors of such camps and who know, what was the real life there. In addition, I think that hiding the terrors of the War and genocide is also incorrect. Of course, the scenes of violence do not fit the concept of the film, but, perhaps, the young or the people, who are not very familiar with the history may misunderstand the film and events that took place at that time.
Regardless of some flaws of the picture, I would advise to watch this film to everyone, at least to understand the value and uniqueness of their lives. Life is wonderful because it always overcomes death. If everyone valued life and managed problems like the main character of this film did, people would find it much easier getting through troubles and resolving some life issues.