Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Amélie and the French New Wave

Amélie is one of the most impressive movies I've ever seen, not just in its production quality as a movie, but as a major accomplishment and progression of French cinema. Fifty years ago, the French New Wave presented a unique and rebellious film style that gave the French a true identity in a world highly proliferated and controlled by American movie conglomerates. It set a certain standard for French films, whether it’s the quirkiness of the camera angles, long shots depicting simple matters of life (often not essential to the plot of the movie), or the recurring themes such as the common, not too poor but certainly not wealthy family.

Amélie shows a clear evolution from the French New Wave. Watching Les Quatre Cents Coups and Amélie afterwards reminded me of seeing a small child, and then seeing her twenty years later as a matured adult. While she’s obviously physically substantially different, she clearly resembles herself from her youth, and even her personality shows a progression from a more primitive stage. Amélie includes scenes about topics which, in American cinema, would be considered irrelevant and unnecessary to the plot. An example of this would be the introduction to Amélie and the scenes describing the characters’ various likes and dislikes in life with few connections, save for those of Amélie’s mother and father.

Like many French movies, especially those of the French New Wave, Amélie is not just about plot and character development, it’s a leisurely paced story that makes the audience enjoy life’s little perks and wonders just as Amélie does. Similar almost to French culture, the movie is laid back but saturated with detail, curious spectacles, and even some witty humor that makes it an all around pleasure to watch. Amélie is truly a French masterpiece of film, in that it takes modern film and the French New Wave, and sews the two into a genuinely memorable motion picture.

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