2002 was a big year for my relationship with the movies, mostly because of a profound experience in early May which altered the entirety of the universe (at least, it seemed at the time). You see, for me, 2002 was the year of Amélie.
I think most of you know this film. It feels almost as if Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain has become a pillar of sorts for women of my generation, or at least those who blog [someone should write a thesis about Amelie, the internet, and whimsy, methinks]. But for those of you who somehow have not seen the film:
Amélie, by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, stars the fabulous Audrey Tautou as a young, quirky woman in Paris working at a Montmartre café called "The Two Windmills." The discovery of a box of a young boy’s hidden treasures spurs Amelie to seek out the owner and return it. The delivery of the box so enthralls her that she begins assisting others in her own, very special, way. In the midst of escorting a blind man across the street while supplying a colorful narrative of the environment, using a mysteriously traveling gnome to get her recluse father out of the house, or avenging the local grocer’s verbal attacks on his assistant, Amelie stumbles across a man who might just be her soul mate.
Beyond inspiring a long-gestating desire to hang Michael Sowa’s portraits of a dog and a goose wearing pearls above my bed, Amélie changed my entire perspective on what a movie could be. After Amélie, I understood that the magical feeling that I felt when I watched a great film was meticulously designed. I'm talking about design that is more than mere set dressing: rather, a synchronicity of all the pieces of a movie and a phenomenon in which hundreds of people all produce the right emotions at the right time. From the colors, to the music and sound, to the performances, to the cheerfully unexpected computer effects (Amélie melting after an encounter with her would-be-lover, for example), it is an experience of perfect orchestration. Come to think of it, it's not much different than a perfectly prepared recipe.
Towards the end of the film (in a scene which always makes me cry), Amelie bakes her “famous plum cake.” While we never see it finished, I can only imagine that, like the film, it is light, sweet and delectable.
As it happens, food52 has its own delightful plum cake and since the minute I started this column I’ve been saving it for my Amélie post. I can only hope that both the cake and the film produce as much pure delight and perfection for you as they did for me.
(If you click through to YouTube, you can turn on the subtitles.)
Currently a Creative Technologist working over at Campfire. Recent grad of NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program, where I played around with interactive video and mobile storytelling. Former video and editing accomplice here @ Food52.
In other lives: worked on the HBO Documentary Make Me Young: Youth Knows No Pain & The New York Public Library’s Biblion: The Boundless Library.
At the moment, I'm really into feta.