Poster for the film Amelie.

2 scenes of Amélie

Poster for the film Amélie.Source and view the film Amélie, originally titled as Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain, directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, with cinematography by
Bruno Delbonnel.

Analyse and discuss two scenes where camera movement is used to:

  • develop the narrative
  • portray emotion

There’s an enjoyable Amélie trailer on YouTube to watch. This romantic comedy stars Audrey Tautou as the title character Amélie Poulain, and Mathieu Kassovitz as the admired Nino Quincampoix. Union Générale Cinématographique (UGC) has produced over 150 films in France including Amélie which was inspired by The Idiot, a novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky. The film has quite high-production values (with a glossy and expensive look) and was nominated for 5 academy awards. In addition to the familiar pan and tilt movements, Bruno Delbonnel makes creative use of a broad range of camera movements throughout Amélie including follows and leads, tracking and pedding.

A narrative scene

Direction for Nino in a narrative scene.Amélie happened to pick up Nino’s photo album. The shy waitress determines to do the good deed of returning it but would also like to risk the chance of meeting a potential boyfriend. Leaving a note on the back of one of his portrait prints, a rendevouz is arranged at the Monmartre carousel. Dressed incognito, she calls Nino via a public phone at the base of the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, Follow the arrows, Mr Quincampoix. The camera follows Nino in the ensuing scene as he travels along both the physical directions of various arrows and pointers, as well as his curiosity to discover the identity of his mysterious and quirky admirer. Starting with blue chalked arrows on the pavement, the camera initially pans with Nino along the arc ramps. It subsequently climbs the stairs maintaining a downward tilt to reveal the pigeons eating his latest arrow of birdseed. With Nino out of breath, the camera makes a dizzying pan around a living statue followed by an upward tilt to highlight the statue’s index finger indicating that Nino must go higher still, all the way to the coin operated binoculars. Upon looking through the binoculars, he sees Amélie replacing his precious photo album into his scooter saddlebag. Despite running all the way back down, she hides but leaves another mysterious clue to her identity on page 51 of the album. Throughout the scene, the tracking movement of the camera emphasises the characters effort to satisfy his curiosity, particularly after the previous scene where Nino wakes at night with the 4-shot portrait photos talking to him about who she is.
Nino sleeps with the photo attached to his bedside lamp.Nino's photos start talking to him about her.Nino asks about her identity.

An emotive scene

There are plenty of scenes packed with emotions, but most involve only subtle camera movement at best. The final scene, with Nino and Amélie taking a fun-filled ride through the back streets of Paris, has plenty of both camera movement and emotions. She has her arms affectionately wrapped around his waist as he pedals along the roads, the camera tracking out leading the characters. Throughout this 30 second take, the shots are quite fast paced to match the thrill of the action. Parallel right tracking shots are deliberately bumpy to remind viewers perhaps of the charm of cobblestone paved streets but more importantly, that love can be a bumpy road. Backgrounds are constantly blurry as the camera leads the characters around sharp corners of tight laneways and narrow streets, heightening both the viewers’ excitement and sense of bonding between the characters. A blurred close-up shot while tracking alongside Nino and Amélie as they ride, simultaneously reveals their exhiliration from the ride and their contentedness with filling each other’s personal space. Their love is fun-filled and they have no fear of showing it as depicted in the final aside. It is this scene that forms an audience-pleasing conclusion.
Tracking camera movement in final emotive scene of Amélie.Hands free riding in final emotive scene of Amélie.Aside in final emotive scene of Amélie.

Bibliography

Camera Movement. (n.d.). MediaCollege.com. Retrieved March 4, 2011, from http://www.mediacollege.com/video/shots/movement.html

Camera Movement – film. (n.d.). . Retrieved March 4, 2011, from http://www.filmreference.com/encyclopedia/Academy-Awards-Crime-Films/Camera-Movement.html

Dirks, T. (n.d.). Cinematic Terms – A FilmMaking Glossary. Filmsite. Retrieved March 5, 2011, from http://www.filmsite.org/filmterms2.html

Jeunet, J. (2001). Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain. Comedy | Fantasy | Romance, Dendy Films. Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0211915/